Blade Runner is a 1982 American science fiction film directed by Ridley Scott and starring Harrison Ford, Rutger Hauer, and Sean Young. The screenplay, written by Hampton Fancher and David Peoples, is loosely based on the novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick.
The film depicts a dystopian Los Angeles in November 2019 in which genetically engineered organic robots called replicants—visually indistinguishable from adult humans—are manufactured by the powerful Tyrell Corporation as well as by other “mega–manufacturers” around the world. Their use on Earth is banned and replicants are exclusively used for dangerous, menial or leisure work on Earth’s off-world colonies. Replicants who defy the ban and return to Earth are hunted down and “retired” by police special operatives known as “Blade Runners”. The plot focuses on a brutal and cunning group of recently escaped replicants hiding in Los Angeles and the burnt out expert Blade Runner, Rick Deckard (Harrison Ford), who reluctantly agrees to take on one more assignment to hunt them down.
In Los Angeles, November 2019, retired police officer Rick Deckard (Harrison Ford) is detained at a noodle bar by officer Gaff (Edward James Olmos), who takes Deckard to see his former supervisor, Bryant (M. Emmet Walsh). Deckard, whose former job as a “Blade Runner” was to track down bioengineered beings known as replicants and kill them, is told by Bryant that several replicants have escaped and come to Earth illegally. As Tyrell Corporation Nexus-6 models, they have only a four-year lifespan, and may have come to Earth to try to extend their lives.
Deckard watches a video of another Blade Runner named Holden administering a “Voight-Kampff” test designed to distinguish humans from replicants based on their empathic response to questions. The subject of the test, Leon (Brion James), shoots Holden. Bryant wants Deckard to return to work to “retire” Leon and three other replicants—Roy Batty (Rutger Hauer), Zhora (Joanna Cassidy) and Pris (Daryl Hannah). Deckard refuses, but after Bryant makes a veiled threat, he reluctantly agrees.
Sent to the Tyrell Corporation to ensure that the test works on Nexus-6 models, Deckard discovers that Tyrell’s (Joe Turkel) assistant Rachael (Sean Young) is an experimental replicant who believes she is human; Rachael’s consciousness has been enhanced with false memories to provide an “emotional cushion”. As a result, a more extensive test is required to determine if she is a replicant.
Trying to find a way to meet with Tyrell, Roy and Leon go to the eye-manufacturing laboratory of Chew (James Hong), forcing him to divulge the identity of J.F. Sebastian (William Sanderson), a gifted designer who works closely with Tyrell. Rachael visits Deckard at his apartment to prove her humanity by showing him a family photo. Dropping the photo to the floor, Rachael leaves in tears after Deckard tells her that her memories are only implants taken from a real person. Sent by Roy, Pris meets and gains the confidence of J.F. Sebastian at his apartment, where he lives with manufactured companions.
While searching Leon’s apartment, Deckard finds a photo of Zhora, and a synthetic snake scale that leads him to a strip club where Zhora works. Deckard “retires” Zhora, and shortly after is told by Bryant to add Rachael, who has disappeared from the Tyrell Corporation headquarters, to his list of retirements. Deckard spots Rachael in a crowd but is disarmed and attacked by Leon, who saw him kill Zhora. Rachael kills Leon using Deckard’s gun. The two return to Deckard’s apartment, where Deckard promises not to hunt Rachael. Later they share an intimate moment; Rachael then tries to leave, but Deckard seduces her.
Arriving at Sebastian’s apartment, Roy tells Pris the others are dead. Sympathetic to their plight, Sebastian reveals that because of a genetic disorder that accelerates his aging, his life will also be cut short. Under a pretext, Sebastian and Roy gain entrance into Tyrell’s secure penthouse, where Roy demands more life from his maker. Told that this has proved to be impossible, Roy confesses that he has done “questionable things”. Tyrell dismisses Roy’s guilt, praising Roy’s advanced design and his accomplishments. Responding “Nothing the god of biomechanics wouldn’t let you into Heaven for”, Roy kisses Tyrell, then kills him. Sebastian runs for the elevator followed by Roy, who rides the elevator down alone.
Upon entering Sebastian’s apartment, Deckard is ambushed by Pris, but manages to kill her just as Roy returns. Roy and Deckard fight until Roy, his life ending, delivers a soliloquy on his eventful existence and dies in front of Deckard, who watches silently. Gaff arrives and, referring to Rachael, shouts to Deckard “It’s too bad she won’t live but then again, who does?” Deckard returns to his apartment to find Rachael alive and sleeping in his bed; as they leave, Deckard finds a small tin-foil unicorn, a calling card left by his origami-making partner Gaff. Depending on the version, Deckard and Rachael either leave the apartment block to an uncertain future, or drive through an idyllic pastoral landscape.
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First Published: Dec 23, 2011 – Last Updated: Apr 26, 2013