It’s the year 2019 in Los Angeles but this is a far cry from the world we are used to as you will soon see. Blade Runner is a hybrid neo-noir, dystopian, and sci-fi film. The Tyrell Corporation has successfully created humanoids called replicants that are near perfect copies of humans except at one point some went rogue and special policemen called Blade Runners were called in. Their services are still required to get rid of a few remnants
Unlike your typical Noir, the film is not in black and white but it still is faded, dank, and dreary. It’s a world-weary L.A. that doesn’t see the light of day anymore. The sterile environment is filled with unnaturally bluish light, old technology, and spaceships coupled with neon lights. The 1980s aesthetic actually adds to the atmosphere which fills all the more dilapidated and old by modern standards. It is weirdly sci-fi while also being time worn. On the ground, it has the appearance of a Chinatown where it is perpetually raining. There is a melding of cultures, time, and place. The ultimate melting pot.
This is the strangely foreign earth that four replicants escape to. One of the fugitives soon blows away a Blade Runner and thus, the best man for the job is brought in: Rick Deckard (Harrison Ford). Finding 4 so called “Skin jobs” is like finding needles in the proverbial haystack. But Deckard has the experience.
Initially, he pays a visit to replicant mastermind Dr. Elden Tyrell and does a test on the woman Rachael (who appears to be a replicant but without any knowledge of it). Deckard proves his skill to Tyrell and heads off on his investigation. Meanwhile, two of the replicants Roy Batty and Leon interrogate a replicant eye manufacturer (James Hong) who points them to one J. F. Sebastian. Another replicant Pris pays a visit to the hapless man named Sebastian and he invites her into his home.
Deckard’s search leads him to snake scales and his first target. He gets to Zhora by putting on an act as a dweeby member from the American Federation of Variety Artists (reminiscent of Bogart in The Big Sleep). She has none of his pitiful guise but he soon pops her. One down. But Leon sees what happens and is ready to make Deckard pay for his deeds. Luckily the Blade Runner gets some much-needed help. Two down. Two to go.
The leader of the replicants, Roy Batty goes with Sebastian to the lair of Tyrell. Batty meets his maker literally and they trade some choice words. In a strangely horrifying instance, he gives his father a kiss before proceeding to cave his head in. A modern reincarnation of Frankenstein and his creature. Except Batty cannot take his life yet.
Deckard finds his third replicant and barely notches his third kill. Now it’s only Roy and Rick left to duel it out. What ensues is a game of cat and mouse where a frantic Deckard is playfully stalked by a seemingly deranged Batty. At times both men seem inhuman (I thought you were supposed to be good. Aren’t you the “good” man?), but it is ultimately Batty who remains the unfeeling one. That’s what makes his quiet death all that surprising. Deckard is left looking on bewildered as Batty’s dripping head hangs limp. Four down.
Deckard returns one last time for Rachael. He has fallen for a replicant, but he could care less. Then again, she might not be the only one left. If Gaff’s origami unicorn and Deckard’s dream mean anything at all. The identity of Deckard is one of the many ambiguities that is left for the audience to mull over. That is the beauty of Blade Runner because, with the many different versions, there are various interpretations that can be made. You be the judge of which one is correct. I still say they should have kept the name “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep,” but then again what do I know? Blade Runner will continue to befuddle me as well as others and that’s probably a good thing. If all movie mysteries were solved and tied up nicely with a big bow they would all but lose their allure. Not so with this one.