Blade Runner (1982)

Blade Runner (1982) Directed by Ridley Scott, written by  Hampton Fancher, David Webb Peoples, based on a novel by Philip K. Dick, Starring Harrison Ford, Rutger Hauer, Sean Young, Edward James Olmos

Unintentionally or not, Blade Runner is a story about what-ifs: depending on the version you might be looking at, you can argue if Rick Deckard is a replicant or not. And another huge what if is, if Rachel has a lifespan of 4 years or not. Those are the big questions among the questions of humanity and rights, There's going to be a shit ton of spoilers in this, as this isn't really a review, but more of a summary of the whole movie, so if you've not seen it, don't read this.

Feast your eyes on this: it's the future. Far away year 2019, when the world is a much darker place, at least what comes to Los Angeles, where it's always raining. Little people live their lives in slowly decaying cities, whereas luckier have colonized off the world, where human-like robots, replicants, do all the dirty work.

There's questioning going on at Tyrell corporation. Holden (Morgan Paul), a seasoned Blade Runner, is quizzing the employees of the megabillion corporation in order to sniff out infiltrated replicants, who've come to Earth illegally and try to pass out as humans. Unluckily for Holden, he has found a replicant named Leon Kowalsky (Brion James), who takes the short way out of the Voight-Kampf test by blasting a new airing hole on poor Holden.

Later that day, or evening, as it's always dark and rainy in the postnuclear war Los Angeles, former Blade Runner Rick Deckard (Ford) is trying to get some noodles, when a Gaff (Edward James Olmos), a new speak jabbering Runner, pats his back and takes him back home, to the police station, where Deckard's former boss Bryant gives him the lay of the land: if you ain't us, you are little people and so he has no other choice but to get back on the job, hunting down the replicants responsible of Holdens hospitalisation.

The first thing Deckard does is to check out a new Nexus 6 model at Tyrell's. Rachel (Young) is her name, and she's fully unaware of what she is. The amoral Tyrell (Joe Turkell) is pleased to see his children faring so well, while Deckard feels a wrench in his gut as he realizes that in order to make the replicants more human, they're fed real memories in order to root them better to their roles as slaves of the mankind. More human than human, that is indeed their motto at the Tyrell corporation.

After the unsettling meeting, Deckard starts sleuthing more. He finds the hotel Leon was staying at and rummages it through for evidence. He does find some, photos and mysterious scales, which he promptly takes to an expert. Photos he takes home in order to scan them with his Esper machine, that allows looking behind the edges in photos.

At the same time, the replicants are looking for answers. Leon and Roy (Rutger Hauer) find their way to a genetical engineer (James Hong), who does eyes, including theirs. But he knows nothing about longevity, that's not part of his job. It's Tyrell they want, but he's a difficult man to see. It would be best for them to see J.F. Sebastian (William Sanderson), as he plays chess with the man himself, but revealing that doesn't do wonders in sparing poor Chews life.

It doesn't take him long to track down his first target, Zhora, who's working as an exotic dancer in a sleazy bar. As he arrives at the bar, Zhora is nowhere to be seen, so he takes his time to ponder life and humanity while having a drink. He decides to call Rachel to apologize, as he feels bad because of shattering her reality. As expected, she's not really forthcoming and slams the vidphone on him. Then Zhora appears to the stage.

Deckard, the sly fox he is, swindles his way to her, trying to sniff out if the woman he's talking to really is a replicant. She gives her answer by attacking him and then running away. After a chase, he shoots Zhora in the back and, while flashing his badge to the other cops arriving at the scene, feels nauseated by it, as the replicants really do look like and act like humans more and more by the generation. No wonder he tried to quit the job, but as everyone who's good at something, it's always difficult to let go, when the pressure is too much.

Bryant and Gaff show up. The boss man is gleaming with joy, as his number one Runner is making results. But there's one more at the loose: Rachel has run away from Tyrell's. After the pep talk, Deckard waltzes to local booze stand in order to get something to drink so he can calm his nerves. Just about when he's leaving, Leon tackles him, angry as hell because of Zhora. The colossus of a man is about to end Deckard's miserable existence, when a shot rings out, blasting Leon's forehead away. It's the another conflicted soul, Rachel, who has saved Deckard.

At Deckard's place, he tells her about the job. He tells her, how there are jitters every time he's killed someone, but as of yet, he hasn't killed a human by a mistake. Rachel states being the job, but the tired Blade Runner drifts in sleep. She sits on a piano and plays a couple of notes, waking Deckard up. Rachel tells, how she remembers the piano lessons but isn't any surer who really took the lessons, her or Tyrell's niece. It's a terrible feeling when you can't trust your own memories to be yours anymore.

What follows is a peculiar love scene. Rachel tries to leave, but Deckard stops her, pins her against the wall and kisses her.  "Say kiss me," Deckard says to Rachel, "I can't really on my memories about this," she whispers.  He repeats the order and finally, Rachel says it and while they kiss again, Deckard tells Rachel to say "I want you".  She says it twice and finally says, on her own, "put your hands on me". Has she created a memory of her own, playing on her own instincts, or just relying on someone else's memories, that we will never know.

The surviving replicants Pris (Daryl Hannah) and Roy have found Sebastian. He's an odd little man, living alone with a horde of automated, almost human-like toys. It's a wondrous and creepy place he has, filled with walking bears and mannequins. He sympathizes with the replicants as they're as broken as he is: they live only 4 years, but he has a genetical disease which makes him age faster. He agrees to take them to Tyrell.

Chess is the key. Sebastian has won his boss only once, so after Roy gives him a winning move, Tyrell agrees to see Sebastian, who doesn't arrive alone. The big man isn't too heckled about seeing Roy with Sebastian. He's kind of been expecting to see some of his children coming home to him. But alas he can't help them, as altering the gene pools would cause mutations, which would lead to death. God can't repair what he has created and with that sentiment, Roy kills his own creator.

Deckard is closing in on the replicants. He arrives at Sebastian's house, only to find it seemingly empty. Little he knows, that Priss is there, ready to beat his ass, pleasure model or not. She knocks him around the house, but as she lacks the pure killer instincts, she revels on the kill too long, allowing Deckard to get his gun. One blast and she's gone just about when Roy arrives and continues what Priss started.

Time, enough, Roy mutters to himself while Deckard runs bloodied and broken around the house, looking for a way out. Luckily the Bradbury building is an old, decaying place, so he finds a hole from the roof, which leads to his escape. He climbs up in the rain, hanging for his dear life. The only way out is forward, he thinks, as he sees a gap between two houses.

In desperation, Deckard runs and jumps, but he's not that good. Barely he manages to grab on the ledge, but he knows that he's a goner. Not only is the ledge slippery, but his fingers are also broken. And then Roy arrives. Almost lazily he jumps the gap that almost killed Deckard. For a moment he looks at his greatest enemy, the police who mowed down his family. Life or death, that's the question.

And then he grabs Deckard just as he's about to fall. With one hand he lifts the little man to the roof. "you won't believe the things I've seen," Roy says. "All those moments fade away in time like tears in the rain," he concludes before he finally dies.

At his last moment, Roy found appreciation towards life. It's ironic that the appreciation he found culminated in saving the life of a man, who spent his time trying to kill him, but in doing so he also cemented Deckard's fate as well, as he finds his own humanity from the remains of the replicants.

The solace doesn't last long, as Gaff arrives to congratulate him on a job well done. "You've done a mans job," he says, perhaps implying something or not. Deckard tells him that "he's finished," with the job at hand and as a whole as well. No more Blade Running for him. But Gaff does want a final word by telling him "that it's too bad, that she won't live, but then again, who does."

With a cold feeling in his gut, Deckard goes home. He's afraid that he'll find Rachel there dead. But she's alive. Gaff has been there, a small origami unicorn proves that. From a reason or another, he didn't kill Rachel, but Deckard is not going to stay to find those reasons out. Together they step to an elevator which shuts behind them.

Depending on a version you're watching it either ends here or doesn't. A theatrical version has a sappy, voice over a scene where Deckard and Rachel drive their car through a lush landscape, implying that Rachel has more time than 4 years, whereas the director's cut ends in uncertainty, which really works better for the questions the movie is asking.

As I said, it is a story about what ifs and uncertainty. Knowing or getting the answers directly from the movie kind of ruins it, as the questions it asks are more interesting as speculative more than they are directly answered. What is humanity, when a machine ceases to be a machine and becomes human? What makes a human? it doesn't matter in the end if Rachel lives or if Deckard is a replicant, those aren't the important questions, they're just sidelines of the big question.

And that's all I have to say about one of my all-time favourite movies.