M. Emmet Walsh
Edward James Olmos
BLADE RUNNER: THE FINAL CUT
After tampering with his sci-fi noir masterpiece in a defining way, back when he put together his Director's Cut, director Ridley Scott then felt confident enough, in 2007, to deliver his Final Cut which aimed to fix a few things as well as make the visuals in Blade Runner look even more slick.
If making a definitive version of the film that would truly stand the test of time was the plan then this is, unfortunately, only half a victory. Some nagging inconsistencies are indeed "fixed", like the shot at the end where the dove flies off into a bright blue sky when it's meant to be the middle of the night or the noticeable strings on those departing spinners. A key line from Roy Batty (Rutger Hauer) is changed completely: "I want more life, f***er!" has become "I want more life, father!", an arguably unnecessary alteration as one could easily imagine that Batty would attempt to intimidate his so-called father by using a very human word in that moment, a curse word to show him how much he's evolved emotionally in such a short amount of time.
That line did always stand out but that was, one could argue, a good thing. Changing it in that way certainly defangs it and therefore lessens its impact. One of Bryant's (M. Emmet Walsh) lines is also changed but this tweak is much more seamless and serves to the accuracy of what he's saying. A scene is reshot pretty much entirely, the one where Zhora (Joanna Cassidy) crashes into a row of store windows, and what used to look like a stunt person suddenly looks like a CG'ed version of the now much older actress playing out the same scene. An imperfect sequence that always worked fine regardless has now become... an imperfect sequence that still works fine regardless so this was predominantly a lot of fuss over nothing. It doesn't hurt the film much, but it doesn't help it either, and this tells you everything you need to know about this Final Cut.
On the plus side, the film is now bloodier and more brutal which makes some of the harsher moments that little bit more impactful and unsettling. Tyrell's (Joe Turkel) death scene was already rather gruesome but now the shot lingers on his demise just long enough to make you feel really uncomfortable. Shots of the city streets are given more breathing room, brief moments with supporting characters are extended for the better and the film's visuals have never looked prettier. The color palette is slightly different, with the greens and blues popping a little more, but not in an intrusive way. Blade Runner, thankfully, remains a gorgeous, unparalleled cinematic vision of the future and, on the big screen, this Final Cut is a knockout.
The ending is no different than in the Director's Cut so don't expect an electric sheep to pop up just yet. The changes made here work mostly to polish a gem we already know rather well, allowing us to love it even more. Plus, of course, to introduce the film to a modern audience. This Final Cut isn't always essential, truthfully, but it has allowed us to revisit one of the greatest science fiction films out there minus those pesky strings and marvel at Philip K. Dick's (and Scott's) dystopian vision of 2019 Los Angeles on the big screen so, that alone makes the project worth it. That said, if you have never seen Blade Runner, I would start with the original then slowly build up to this one.
Blade Runner is still a ground-breaking, highly influential sci-fi masterpiece and even though The Director's Cut remains arguably its best version, I would check out this Final Cut preferably in the cinema as it is truly a visual treat and will make you fall in love with it for the first time or all over again.
A must for fans especially.