Wise: Ford's career has been full of heroes who've had to deal with aliens in one form or another.
But rather than sporting space suits and jet packs, Deckard is the quintessential hard-boiled private eye. He's not too talkative, wears a trench coat, smokes, drinks whiskey and has an eye for the ladies. But like P.I. heroes Bogey and Mitchum, his hard surface conceals a thoughtful soul, with a tarnished sense of right and wrong. As he hunts down these androids who look just like us, he begins to question just what makes us—or them—human?
Metal fan blades and ceiling fans whip through smoke-filled air as if the year was 1941 and not 2019. Costumes designed by Michael Kaplan and Charles Node are visions of shoulder pads, knee-length skirts and fur collars as if they were dressing Joan Crawford and not Sean Young.
Young's red lips and upswept hair speak of another era while she walks down a crowded, rain-covered street populated by air-cars and videophones. Even the Vangelis soundtrack is a synthesizer re-working of noir instruments like the piano and sax. It's a masterwork of setting that blends the look and dark themes of these two genres together.
Rutger Hauer is so creepy in his Aryan other-ness that it requires no leap of faith to imagine that he is a mad machine, killing people until he can find the answers he is seeking. With a dedicated cult following and renewed critical appreciation, Blade Runner's lackluster box office performance at the time probably had more to do with a misleading marketing campaign and its summer competition (a little movie called E.T.) than with the actual quality of the film.
Werth: The Electoral College does radically change a man.
Wise: While on a state visit to Russia, President Marshall abandons a prepared speech to denounce the war crimes of imprisoned General Ivan Radek. This breech prompts a minor diplomatic crisis, and when the First Family boards Air Force One, a rogue group of Radek's loyalists led by Ivan Korshunov (Gary Oldman) hijack the plane and take the President, his family and the cabinet hostage.
Werth: Are all the Russians named Ivan in this film?
Wise: After a skirmish, President Marshall is hustled to an escape pod by the Secret Service, and the hijackers contact the White House where Vice President Kathryn Bennett (Glenn Close) skillfully manages the power grabs and protocol while Washington roils over the possibility that the President has been killed. Of course, Marshall hasn't run off to safety, but instead has secreted himself on the plane while he steels himself to outfox and outfight his captors.
Werth: After dealing with Calista Flockhart, it should be a breeze.
Wise: Of course it is, but director Wolfgang Petersen stages the action with constantly escalating intensity, and while the final outcome is never in doubt, when victory does come, it feels both cathartic and hard-earned. But it's definitely Harrison Ford's performance that transforms what could have been a run-of-the-mill action movie into something worth watching.
Screenwriter Andrew W. Marlowe provided all the typical thrills and double-crosses de rigueur to action films of this stripe, but Ford's charisma brings nobility and an almost imperceptible wink of humor to the project, preventing it from falling into an overblown fantasia of revenge.
Werth: Too bad Petersen couldn't create any excitement in his remake of The Poseidon Adventure.
Wise: He also directed Das Boot and The NeverEnding Story, so he must either be a genre genius—
Werth: Or a madman. Speaking of, do you think I would look crazy if I went to the Cowboys and Aliens premiere to give Harrison Ford his present?
Wise: Why don't you just saddle up for next week's adventure at Film Gab?