Questions of humanity and authenticity have always been at the heart of the Blade Runner universe. In Ridley Scott’s original film, Rick Deckard a “blade runner,” administers an “empathy test” meant to distinguish humans from realistic androids known as replicants, and fans have spent well over three decades debating whether Deckard himself is a replicant. Denis Villeneuve’s sequel, Blade Runner 2049 (2017), deftly maintains a sense of ambiguity regarding Deckard’s origins, and also finds new ways to wrestle with the question of what it means to be “real.”
Tag: Ryan Gosling
The key scene in Shane Black’s The Nice Guys happens early on, and it’s such a good gag that I’m loathe to spoil it, so if you have yet to see the movie, maybe skip to the end of this paragraph. Low-rent private eye Holland March (Ryan Gosling) is trying to track down a lead, and tries unsuccessfully to get a bartender to pull receipts for him. March comes back to the bar after closing time, wraps a handkerchief around his fist, and punches a hole in the window to sneak in, all the while giving typical hardboiled narration about how sometimes as a detective, you have to break the rules, “but it’s worth it as long as you get the results.” Except as soon as he punches the window out, his narration is cut short when he gets a nasty cut on his wrist, retches, collapses into a pile of garbage, and in a montage is rushed to the hospital. This scene is an exemplary manifestation of screenwriter/director Shane Black’s aim to simultaneously celebrate the genre of neo-noir and hilariously puncture its self-serious tough guy attitude.
Tony Scott’s The Last Boy Scout is book-ended by scenes of violence taking place in football arenas, time-honored spaces of an American pastime. In the opening sequence, a young player walks onto the field and opens fire – an ominous opener that seems especially bleak this far removed from 1991. In the showstopper climax, a sniper stationed high above the action on field is attacked by one of our leads, eventually gunned down by the police and – in the film’s Grand Guignol moment – then falls into the spinning rotor of a helicopter, rendering his body into a mere splatter of blood. In these moments, The Last Boy Scout feels most like Scott’s film, yet everything in between is explicitly from the pen of its writer, Shane Black. Only this time, Black’s war isn’t on Christmas. It’s on America.
Drive – 2011 – dir. Nicholas Winding Refn
Driver is a quiet, sometimes menacing, often violent, but ultimately gold-hearted stunt-and-getaway-driver, and we don’t know much else about him in Nicholas Winding Refn’s beautiful 2011 film Drive. But, in James Sallis’ “Drive,” the 2005 novel on which Hossein Amini based his screenplay for Mr. Refn’s film, we are given the shorthand of his genesis, and more depth into the carnage he consistently leaves in his wake.