Blade Runner is a 1982 neo-noir science fiction film directed by Ridley Scott, written by Hampton Fancher and David Peoples, and starring Harrison Ford, Rutger Hauer, Sean Young, and Edward James Olmos. It is a loose adaptation of Philip K. Dick’s novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? (1968). The film is set in a dystopian future Los Angeles of 2019, in which synthetic humans known as replicants are bio-engineered by the powerful Tyrell Corporation to work on off-world colonies. When a fugitive group of replicants led by Roy Batty (Hauer) escapes back to Earth, burnt-out cop Rick Deckard (Ford) reluctantly agrees to hunt them down.
Blade Runner initially underperformed in North American theaters and polarized critics; some praised its thematic complexity and visuals, while others were displeased with its slow pacing and unconventional plot. It later became an acclaimed cult film regarded as one of the all-time best science fiction movies. Hailed for its production design depicting a “retrofitted” future, Blade Runner is a leading example of neo-noir cinema. The soundtrack, composed by Vangelis, was nominated in 1983 for a BAFTA and a Golden Globe as best original score.
The film has influenced many science fiction films, video games, anime, and television series. It brought the work of Philip K. Dick to the attention of Hollywood, and several later big-budget films were based on his work. In the year after its release, Blade Runner won the Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation, and in 1993 it was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant”. A sequel, Blade Runner 2049, was released in October 2017.
Seven versions of Blade Runner exist as a result of controversial changes made at the request of studio executives. A director’s cut was released in 1992 after a strong response to test screenings of a workprint. This, in conjunction with the film’s popularity as a video rental, made it one of the earliest movies to be released on DVD. In 2007, Warner Bros. released The Final Cut, a 25th-anniversary digitally remastered version, and the only version over which Scott retained artistic control.
In 2019 Los Angeles, former police officer Rick Deckard is detained by officer Gaff, and brought to his former supervisor, Bryant. Deckard, whose job as a “blade runner” was to track down bioengineered beings known as replicants and “retire” (kill) them, is informed that four are on Earth illegally. Deckard starts to leave, but Bryant ambiguously threatens him, and he stays. The two watch a video of a blade runner named Holden administering the “Voigt-Kampff” test, which is designed to distinguish replicants from humans based on their emotional response to questions. The test subject, Leon, shoots Holden on the second question. Bryant wants Deckard to retire Leon and the other three Tyrell Corporation Nexus-6 replicants: Roy Batty, Zhora, and Pris.
Bryant has Deckard meet with Eldon Tyrell so he can administer the test on a Nexus-6 to see if it works. Tyrell expresses his interest in seeing the test fail first and asks him to administer it on his assistant Rachael. After a much longer than standard test, Deckard concludes that Rachael is a replicant who believes she is human. Tyrell explains that she is an experiment who has been given false memories to provide an emotional “cushion”.
Searching Leon’s hotel room, Deckard finds photos and a synthetic snake scale. Roy and Leon investigate a replicant eye-manufacturing laboratory and learn of J. F. Sebastian, a gifted genetic designer who works closely with Tyrell. Deckard returns to his apartment where Rachael is waiting. She tries to prove her humanity by showing him a family photo, but after Deckard reveals that her memories are implants from Tyrell’s niece, she leaves his apartment. Meanwhile, Pris locates Sebastian and manipulates him to gain his trust.
A photograph from Leon’s apartment and the snake scale lead Deckard to a strip club, where Zhora works. After a confrontation and chase, Deckard kills Zhora. Bryant orders him also to retire Rachael, who has disappeared from the Tyrell Corporation. After Deckard spots Rachael in a crowd, he is attacked by Leon, who knocks Deckard’s pistol out of his hand, and attempts to kill Deckard, but Rachael uses Deckard’s pistol to kill Leon. They return to Deckard’s apartment, and, during an intimate discussion, he promises not to track her down; as she abruptly tries to leave, Deckard restrains her, making her kiss him.
Arriving at Sebastian’s apartment, Roy tells Pris that the others are dead. Sympathetic to their plight, Sebastian reveals that because of “Methuselah Syndrome”, a genetic premature aging disorder, his life will also be cut short. Sebastian and Roy gain entrance into Tyrell’s secure penthouse, where Roy demands more life from his maker. Tyrell tells him that it is impossible. Roy confesses that he has done “questionable things”, but Tyrell dismisses this, praising Roy’s advanced design and accomplishments in his short life. Roy kisses Tyrell, then kills him. Sebastian runs for the elevator, followed by Roy, who rides the elevator down alone.[nb 1] Deckard is later told by Bryant that Sebastian was found dead.
At Sebastian’s apartment, Deckard is ambushed by Pris, but he kills her as Roy returns. Roy’s body begins to fail as the end of his lifespan nears. He chases Deckard through the building, ending on the roof. Deckard tries to jump to an adjacent roof, but is left hanging between buildings. Roy makes the jump with ease, and as Deckard’s grip loosens, Roy hoists him onto the roof, saving him. Before Roy dies, he delivers a monologue about how his memories “will be lost in time, like tears in rain“. Gaff arrives and shouts to Deckard about Rachael: “It’s too bad she won’t live, but then again, who does?” Deckard returns to his apartment and finds Rachael asleep in his bed. As they leave, Deckard notices an origami unicorn on the floor, a calling card that recalls for him Gaff’s earlier statement. Deckard and Rachael leave the apartment block.