The Final Cut is the Deepest...
A Blade Runner comes back for one last job, to eliminate some rogue robots.
Blade Runner: The Final Cut (Trailer) | BFI, BFI and photos © Warner Bros
Replicant or human, that is the question? This question hovering over Blade Runner: The Final Cut ‘s (2007) leading character, Blade Runner, Rick Deckard. There are ambiguous hints of his true identity in this movie. After reading theories and discussion on this movie, this neo-noir is seen differently on a second watch.
The cyberpunk 1982 film was based on the Philip K Dick book. The film spawned a total of seven different editions, but here it’s the Final Cut from 2007 to be reviewed. All reportedly tell the same story in different ways, with an alternative ending in original theatrical version to the one reviewed here.
All can be seen as different films in their own right with storylines relating to this character reinforced in alternative ways. On seeing and reading about the original story for this film, I find the Final Cut version to have the most compelling plotlines and climax.
Spookily Blade Runner is set in this current year – 2019 – in Los Angeles in the near future. This a chilling fact which Darlin Husband casually reinforced as this 1980s film began. A scrolling screen then tells of a revolt from a number of Nexus 6 robot slaves working on a mining planet colony. This leads to them killing a number of humans, and six of these replicants escape to earth.
These robots were designed and created by the Tyrell Corporation. They are known as replicants and look, act and behave like human beings but have no empathy. On earth, “Blade Runners” are employed to identify these replicants, hunt them down and retire (kill) them.
Replicants are identified by the Voight-Kampff test (an in plot device similar to a lie detector). If after questioning, empathy is detected through involuntary iris movements and empathetic answers to questions, the subject is believed to be human.
This film is set in a bleak and gloomy dystopian future, where it appears to constantly rain. At night, the only light illuminating the darkness comes from neon adverts, explosions and searchlights. The soulless buildings appearing larger, more imposing and impersonal than our present day skyscrapers.
The opening scene shows the Voight-Kampff test carried out as a Blade Runner assesses Leon (Brion James), a Tyrell Corporation Employee. This is carried out in a dark, smoky atmosphere. During this intense questioning, Leon shoots his interviewer after he is asked about his mother. His identity as a replicant confirmed, Leon flees the building.
Rick Deckard (Harrison Ford) is a one time Blade Runner. He’s brought to the police station by his former colleague Gaff (Edward James Olmos) to meet with his old boss Bryant (M Emmett Walsh). The pair travel to the police station in a flying car (or spinner). Deckard is asked (rhetorically) to return for one last job by this old employer.
Over a stiff drink, Deckard is told of his assignment to retire (kill) the rogue Nexus 6 replicants. These particular Nexus 6 replicant models have returned to earth. Their ringleader, Roy Batty (Rutger Hauer) is accompanied by his replicant lover Pris (Daryl Hannah), Leon and Zhora (Joanna Cassidy). Their aim is unclear. These replicants have a four-year lifespan with expiry dates in the near future.
Deckard visits the Tyrell Corporation and is asked by Dr Eldon Tyrell (Joe Turkel) to assess his employee Rachael (Sean Young) using the test. After many, many questions, she is revealed – in confidence by her creator – as a more advanced replicant. Deckard and Gaff search Leon’s room. Photographs and a synthetic fish scale are found. The scale is later identified as from a snake with a manufacturers date seen on it. Gaff makes a wee origami model at the scene.
Meanwhile, Batty (Rutger Hauer) is joined by Leon. The pair visit, interrogate and torture Chew, a man who makes synthetic eyes for the Nexus 6 model. The pair demanding knowledge of their longevity and other matters pertaining to their “lives”. Chew provides them with the name of the genetic engineer for this project (Sebastian). Chew stresses he is not involved with these matters.
On his arrival home, Deckard is confronted by Rachael, who is in shock after learning of her replicant origins. Rachael believed she was human due to her strong memories. Deckard reveals her memories are implants. When Deckard makes light of his findings, she appears hurt and leaves in tears.
After following Chew’s lead, the replicants use Pris, a pleasure bot as bait to win the gullible Sebastian’s trust. Sebastian agrees to take the replicants to their creator… Meanwhile, Deckard examines those photographs more closely, revealing Zhora. He then tracks Zhora down to a club and confronts her…
Blade Runner‘s opening Vangelis score is as haunting as a horror movie, with what sounds like gunshots punctuating the music. Ridley Scott’s fantastic landscapes and cinematography, special effects and models are convincing from taking you to an alternative 2019. These scenes reminding me of Outland (1981).
Both films show buildings as impersonal, foreboding and eerie as the people inside. Spotlights and searchlights illuminate the darkness of the streets and this landscape. This feels eerie and chilling. Light also comes from neon advertisements (with a natty way of advertising those product placement items). An ominous-looking aircraft promoting life on another planet as a better alternative to this life on earth.
An explanatory in film plot device has Bryant explaining Deckard’s assignment showing pictures and information of those rogue replicants to Deckard – and the viewers of this film – along with their strengths and expiry dates. This was a creative addition to the film where the line is blurry as to who and what is flesh and blood or created synthetically. The Nexus 6 replicants with expiry date in their near future provided their strong motivation to meet with their creator and urgency to their story.
Walsh’s police chief figure was reminiscent of similar film noir film counterparts. This reinforced by his Trilby and gruff way of being as he commands Deckard to carry out this new assignment. This noir theme continues and is seen in Rachael’s appearance and in her role as the later romantic partner of Deckard. The barely colourful scenes, replicating the ambience of those original film noirs.
Not knowing the full story of any of the remaining characters, you query everyone’s back story. The film does seem to imply that Deckard may be a replicant in this 2007 film version of events. With Deckard possibly being a replicant slave employed by the police force. This as he states he has “no choice” to carry out the apparently compulsory orders from his employer.
Furthermore, it is suggested that those origami models mirror Deckard’s thoughts. This is seen particularly in that daydream of a unicorn and this thought mirrored with another origami model left for Deckard to find. The unicorn is commonly believed to be a memory implant.
During the film, Deckard remembers his own Voight-Kampff test in what appears to be auditory flashbacks. Was he assessed as to his identity as replicant or human for a particular reason? Without identifying the assessor’s voice and knowing of the situation this is difficult to conclude.
It was a nice touch to see the relationship between Deckard and Rachel deepen into a romance. Ford, was a wonderful casting choice for this enigmatic role. In his relationship with Rachel showing a more human side with his protective, emphatic and romantic feelings towards her. Ford was selected for this film after Dustin Hoffman left this movie for unknown reasons.
Hoffman was a surprising choice for this role, but not as much as the original choice by the screenplay writer. This choice was Robert Mitchum, who on reflection seems too old for this role, and therefore as unlikely as Frank Sinatra in Die Hard.
However Ford then having convinced the audience in leading enigmatic roles in both the original Star Wars trilogy and Indiana Jones films, it is understandable why this actor was chosen. Also, all the Harrison Ford characters like Hans Solo, Indiana Jones and Rick Deckard show a rugged, tough action guy with a heart.
Hauer, it seems was the only choice for Batty. He gained the immediate approval of both Dick and the director. Batty also shows different sides to his character from one with aggressive outbursts and combat skills to one who apparently cares for others. The former characteristics are seen as he meets his creator and the latter attributes seen in his later scenes with Deckard and Pris.
Batty’s moving monologue in his final scenes was rewritten by Hauer. These words were delivered by this actor with much humanity and empathy.
I’ve seen things you people wouldn’t believe. Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. I watched c-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhäuser Gate. All those moments will be lost in time, like tears in rain. Time to die.
This heartfelt speech adds to the ongoing debate on whether the replicants are more human than the humans in this film.
The alternative endings for both the original and this final cut are ambiguous as to Deckard’s role. His replicant identity was hinted at with different interpretations of events in both films and was also thought about contrastingly by those who made the movie. But depending on whether you want the happy, sunny ending or the more speculative one, this film version is really is a cut above the rest.
Weeper Rating: 😦 😦😦😦😦😦/10
Handsqueeze Rating: 🙂🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 /10
Hulk Rating: /10
M Emmet Walsh Blog-A-Thon 2019, No 14
This post was added to Dubsism‘s M Emmet Walsh Blog-A-Thon. Other reviews with this cast include Harrison Ford in Fabulous Carrie Fisher Films and Star Wars VII: The Force Awakens. Daryl Hannah in Wall Street and Joe Turkel in The Shining and Fantasy Island. M Emmet Walsh in Airport 77 and McMillan and Wife. Joanna Cassidy in The Fourth Protocol. Rutger Hauer features here in a remembrance tribute with many of his roles, Recalling Some Retro Rutger Hauer Reels and Spiels.