The Noir City Of Angels, less than a year from now.
So begins Blade Runner, though now, and at the pace we are going, the producers would have been safer to call it 3019. We don't have deep space off world colonies quite yet, warp speed or wormholes to bridge the 817 light years to Orion, nor anywhere near the robotics/biogenetics technology depicted, or some of the other advances shown. Though, we do have phenomenally better TVs than shown in the film, along with computers and cellphones. But then, we've managed to screw things up in completely other ways.
Los Angeles, in the noir universe in this film, is a vast megalopolis, skyscraper sized refineries belching flames among megalithic buildings, all threaded by flying cars. The perpetual night sky is a drab, dirty, rusted brown. The future city has transformed into a weird paella of still extant vestiges of Tinsel Town, Chinatown, and Seattle. Long periods of rain with a heavy Asian fusion. We see crowded streets hovered over by advertising billboard blimps. The latest fad du jour are frivolous umbrella shafts that glow in the murky evening rush hour.
At the massive pyramidal Tyrell Corporation an official seems to be giving a worker, Leon Kowalski (Brion James) some sort of test. A question and answer test using the Voight-Kampff machine. The machine is used to detect replicants, measuring changes in air density and monitoring pupil dilation and blush response.
|The Voight-Kampff machine|
|Leon Kowalski (Brion James)|
|Holden ( Morgan Paull)|
|Deckard (Harrison Ford)|
|Howie Lee (Bob Okasaki)|
|Gaff (Edward James Olmos)|
He's arrested. They tell him Inspector Bryant wants him. They head to the Blade Runner LAPD division which is now spilled over into old Union Station.
|Bryant (M. Emmett Walsh)|
Bryant: Not embarrassing, because no one is going to find out they're down here. Now you're going to spot em' and you're going to air them out.
Deckard: I don't work here anymore. Holden. He's good.
Bryant: I did. He can breathe okay, as long as nobody unplugs him..... Not good enough. I need you Deck, this is a bad one the worst you get. I need the old Blade Runner. I need your magic.
Deckard: [getting up to leave] I was quit when I come in here, Bryant, I'm twice as quit now.
Bryant: Stop right where you are! You know the score, pal. You're not cop, you're little people!
[Deckard stops at the door]
Deckard: No choice, huh?
Bryant: [smiles] No choice, pal.
Bryant: I need ya, Deck. This is a bad one, the worst yet. I need the old blade runner, I need your magic.
It turns out that six skinjobs made it to L.A., two were fried when they tried to storm the Tyrell Corp, security perimeter, the other four are on the loose, the only clue they got was the last known address given for Leon Kowalsky, The Yukon Hotel.
So begins Deckard's quest to find and retire the renegade replicants. While the replicants desperate mission is to breach the Tyrell security systems and confront it's genius, Dr. Eldon Tyrell (Joe Turkel), to see if he can change the four year length of their fail-safe, genetically modified, lifespans.
The replicants are Nexus-6 generation, ("more human than human" Tyrell Corp motto), top of the line skinjobs, besides Leon, the others are two pleasure models Zhora (Joanna Cassidy), and Pris (Daryl Hannah), and the leader, a combat model called Roy Batty (Rutger Hauer).
|Rachael (Sean Young)|
After over 100 one hundred questions Deckard figures out that Rachael is a replicant who believes she is human. Once she is dismissed from the room, Tyrell confides to Deckard that she is a Nexus-6 experiment who has been given false memories including photographs, to provide a sort of psychological/emotional "buffer."
Deckard returns to his apartment where he finds the door unlocked and Rachael waiting. She desperately tries to prove her humanity by showing him a picture of herself and her mother. Deckard tells her that Tyrell implanted her memories, memories that were appropriated from one of his nieces, they are fake. In tears Rachael she leaves his apartment.
Batty and Leon, track down a replicant eye manufacturer and from him they get the name and address of J. F. Sebastian (William Sanderson), a lonely biogenetic designer who works closely with Tyrell.
|Replicant eye manufacturer|
|Hannibal Chew ( James Hong )|
Batty sends Pris to the location and she manages to waifish-ly flirt her way into Sebastian's heart and headquarters in the rundown Bradbury building in old downtown L.A. Sebastian in his spare time manufactures genetic oddities, "toys" which he calls his friends and his apartments are littered with them.
|Pris (Daryl Hannah )|
|J.F. Sebastian (William Sanderson )|
The scale is from a bioengineered snake, from that he traces who it was sold to which takes him to Taffey Lewis' Chinatown dive strip club.
|Taffy Lewis (Hy Pyke )|
|Zhora (Joanna Cassidy)|
When Deckard confronts Zhora she attacks him and flees. Deckard shoots her down in the street. We see Rachael in the distance across the crowd. She has witnessed it all. After getting congratulated from Bryant, Deckard is surprisingly told he still has four Nexus-6 skinjobs to retire. Rachael has escaped from the Tyrell Corporation.
After Bryant and the cops all leave, Deckard is ambushed by Leon, who has also been watching the proceedings. Deckard loses his gun in his battle with Leon, and as he is about to kill Deckard gets shot in the head by Rachael who picked up Deckard's gun. Deckard and Rachael then go back to his apartment, there Rachael and Deckard begin to get intimate.
Pris, after a few days of getting in Sebastian's good graces is united again with Batty. He tells Pris that the others have been killed. Sebastian is sympathetic to their plight because he also, does not have long to live. Sebastian tells them that he suffers from the "Methuselah Syndrome," a premature aging disorder.
|Sebastian and his toys|
|Batty (Rutger Hauer)|
|Tyrell (Joe Turkel)|
Batty: Why not?
Tyrell: Because by the second day of incubation, any cells that have undergone reversion mutation give rise to revertant colonies, like rats leaving a sinking ship; then the ship... sinks.
Batty: What about EMS-3 recombination?
Tyrell: We've already tried it - ethyl, methane, sulfinate as an alkylating agent and potent mutagen; it created a virus so lethal the subject was dead before it even left the table.
Batty: Then a repressor protein, that would block the operating cells.
Tyrell: Wouldn't obstruct replication; but it does give rise to an error in replication, so that the newly formed DNA strand carries with it a mutation - and you've got a virus again... but this, all of this is academic. You were made as well as we could make you.
Batty: But not to last.
Tyrell: The light that burns twice as bright burns half as long - and you have burned so very, very brightly, Roy. Look at you: you're the Prodigal Son; you're quite a prize!
Batty: I've done... questionable things.
Tyrell: Also extraordinary things; revel in your time.
Batty: Nothing the God of biomechanics wouldn't let you into heaven for.
When it's apparent that Tyrell can not do anything Batty crushes his skull with his bare hands, and Sebastian makes a run for the elevator, but he's never seen again in the film, Batty has killed him also.
|2nd Street Tunnel|
Directed brilliantly by Ridley Scott (Alien (1979), Gladiator (2000), Hannibal (2001), Black Hawk Down (2001)), who, except for Alien and Gladiator has never, in my opinion, directed anything to match this total imagination immersional experience since. The beautiful cinematography was by Jordan Cronenweth (The Nickel Ride (1974)). The absolutely stunning, intricately detailed Production Design was by Lawrence G. Paull and the Art Direction by David L. Snyder. Special effects are by Douglas Trumbull, Richard Yuricich, and David Dryer. The excellent soundtrack was by Vangelis.
The film stars Harrison Ford whose Neo Noir creds include (The Conversation (1974), also The Fugitive (1993)), he and the entire cast should have been in more, similar fare. I haven't seen Presumed Innocent (1990) which may be another Neo Noir. Ford is basically playing a retro, slightly disheveled, hard boiled detective. Rutger Hauer (The Hitcher (1986), Sin City (2005)) as Roy Batty leader of the skinjobs is appropriately cold blooded.
Sean Young (Dune (1984), A Kiss Before Dying (1991)) plays Rachael. Rachael reminds me a bit of Joan Crawford with her extreme shoulder pads and hair in a 1940s styled pompadour with rolled bangs, there is also a hint of Victorian Gothic emphasized when she's out of the office wearing ridiculously large Edmund Gorey-ish overcoats with high collars.
Edward James Olmos is Gaff the weird and creepy cop flunky. M. Emmet Walsh (Midnight Cowboy (1969), Mikey and Nicky (1976), Blood Simple (1984), White Sands (1992)) is the good ol' boy L.A.P.D. Inspector. Walsh is a good, memorable, character actor, he is another who, if we were still under the studio system and if they would have been cranking out Neo Noirs with the same dedication that they did for Classic Noirs, would absolutely have been a Neo Noir staple.
Daryl Hannah (Kill Bill: Vol. 1 and Kill Bill: Vol. 2 (2003)) as Pris, William Sanderson (Death Hunt (1981)) plays J. F. Sebastian, Sanderson would have been a natural for the parts that usually went to Elisha Cook Jr. during the Classic Film Noir Era. Brion James (The Postman Always Rings Twice (1981), The Fifth Element (1997), Brown's Requiem (1998)) plays skinjob Leon Kowalski.
Joe Turkel is the only member of the cast who was a Classic Film Noir veteran appearing in (City Across the River (1949), Johnny Stool Pigeon (1949), Southside 1-1000 (1950), The Glass Wall (1953), The Human Jungle (1954), The Naked Street (1955), The Killing (1956), The Case Against Brooklyn (1958)) He plays the oily replicant tycoon Dr. Eldon Tyrell.
Joanna Cassidy as Zhora Salome, one of the sex worker replicants was in The Laughing Policeman (1973), and the very recent Neo Noir Too Late (2015)). Hy Pyke plays Taffey Lewis the Chinatown strip club owner, and James Hong (The Satan Bug (1965), Chinatown (1974), Big Trouble in Little China (1986), Black Widow (1987)), plays Hannibal Chew the replicant eye manufacturer. Bob Okasaki (House of Bamboo (1955), The Crimson Kimono (1959)), is noodle shop counterman.
Is Deckard a replicant? I don't think so, and what the film is trying to say will be debated.
Replicants with artificial memories, will still develop real memories in their short lifespans and possibly Batty comes to the realization that in saving and telling Deckard what he has seen is a way of achieving a little bit of immortality.
|Time To die|
Batty: I've seen things you people wouldn't believe. Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. I watched C-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhauser gate. All those moments will be lost in time... like tears in rain... Time to die.
A visually atmospheric masterpiece. 10/10