Ridley Scott’s 1982 film “Blade Runner” is a dark glimpse into a dystopian near-future world set in Los Angeles in 2019 — a world much different from the Star Trek-ish utopian future popularized by earlier science fiction.
Advances in robotic and genetic engineering have allowed engineers from Tyrell Corporation to manufacture a generation of lifeforms that are nearly indistinguishable from humans.
Physically superior and at least equal in intelligence, these “Replicants” are used as Off-World labor in conditions deemed too hazardous for humans. Fearing that these Replicants might develop human emotions, they were engineered to have lifespans of only a few years.
Replicants were declared illegal on Earth after a revolt in an Off-World colony led to the murder of humans and special police officers, called Blade Runners, were ordered to track down and kill any Replicants found on Earth — a process called “retirement.”
A young Harrison Ford plays Blade Runner Rick Deckard, a man haunted by the horrors of his job. When four advanced-generation Replicants (Rutger Hauer and Daryl Hannah are two of them) are found to have arrived in Los Angeles, Deckard is assigned to track them down and retire them.
As the story unfolds, it is revealed that these Replicants are nearing the end of their genetically-shortened lives and are on a desperate quest to infiltrate Tyrell Corporation in order to find a way to extend their lives. While busy tracking them down, Deckard is struggling with his feelings for an advanced prototype Replicant (played by Sean Young) that thinks she is human.
The Director’s Cut version of the movie removes the annoying voice-overs and gives the movie a darker feel.
The scenery and special effects are incredible, especially given the limited technology available in 1982. The smoggy, dark, always-raining, polluted Los Angeles of the movie set against a backdrop of towering skyscrapers and massive digital billboards is a very believable future.
An almost mystical soundtrack gives a sense of a dreamy surrealism to the movie. The storyline is fascinating and is even more relevant now than when the movie was created, given the current advances in genetic engineering that are giving rise to moral questions.
Though the creation of Replicants by 2019 is a plausible possibility, flying cars seems very unlikely given the fact that fuel-efficient ground-based automobiles are elusive in 2005, as are drivers that are capable of not colliding with one another on the ground, much less flying around the sky.
“Blade Runner” is an artistic masterpiece and is considered a sci-fi classic for its breathtaking scenery, special effects, dark view of the future and engaging story. Elements of the movie’s view of the future have found their way into science fiction greats like “Total Recall,” “Minority Report” and even “I, Robot.” This is a great movie to watch if, for no other reason, than to be amused by the future as seen from the perspective of 1982.