Before we jump into the deep end, here is a quick re-cap of the events of the 1982 Movie. Spoilers… obviously.
What happened in the first Blade Runner?
While I don’t want to go over every scene in the movie, it’s worth having a brief catch up.
In Los Angeles in 2019 retired Blade Runner Deckard is brought back to hunt down 4 replicants who have arrived on earth. Its revealed that they are here to try and extend their lifespan which is set to expire after 4 years.
While hunting for the rogues, Deckard speaks to Eldon Tyrell, one of the principal manufacturers of Replicants. He also runs into Eldon’s assistant Rachel and discovers she is a replicant who believes she is human.
The rogues find Sebastian, a toy maker with links to Tyrell and slowly convince him to set up a meeting with their maker. Meanwhile Deckard finds a “retires” the first of the rogue replicants, Zhora. This leads to him being attacked by a second rogue, Leon, before being saved by Rachel.
Roy and Priss, the final two, finally meet with Tyrell, who states he cannot help extend their lives any further. He is then killed by Roy.
Deckard tracks the killers back to Sebastian’s place and they fight. He kills Priss and is then chased by a crazed Roy. While trying to escape Deckard almost falls off the roof and is saved by Roy who starts to die due to his age. He reveals a surprising amount of humanity before finally “shutting down”
Deckard meets with Rachel who he has shown feelings for. As they leave for their new life, Deckard finds a small origami unicorn by his door.
What is a Blade Runner?
First off, it’s a better title for a movie than “Do androids dream of electric sheep?”, the Phillip K. Dick novel it was based off. But in a more movie based way, it’s the name of the special police officers tasked with hunting down rogue replicants on earth. Trained to use the Voight Kampff machine, they are the best bloodhounds when faced with the near human replicants.
In the story Deckard (Harrison Ford) is a retired Blade Runner forced into one last job to “retire” four advanced replicants who have arrived on Earth to extend their lives. Although the new movie isn’t out yet. It’s heavily implied that Ryan Goslings new character, Officer K, is a Blade Runner as well. But why is he looking for Deckard?
What is a Replicant?
Replicants are synthetic humans made primarily by the Tyrell Corporation to work in the Off World Colonies. While they may, in theory, be robots they certainly act more like humans. In fact a central concept of the story is just how human are these replicants are.
The motive for the replicants returning to Earth is to try and find someone to extend their lives as they have only 4 year life spans. In a very human emotion, they do not wish to die. Just see the classic “tears in the rain” speech by Roy Batty (Rutger Hauer) for a most eloquent way of putting it.
Another, more advanced replicant, Rachel, doesn’t even know she is not human and is an experiment by Tyrell. She has been implanted with the memories of Tyrells niece and does not take it well when her secret is revealed. And then, there is Deckard…
What is a Voight Kampf machine / test?
The Voight Kampf machine is an item used by Blade Runners to determine if a person is a replicant or not. Effectively it is an advanced form of lie detector that catches certain responses to emotionally stimulating questions.
We first see it when Leon freaks out while being tested and kills the Blade Runner looking for him. Later we see Deckard test Rachael and it takes longer than usual to find out what she is. This is seen as a sign that more advanced replicants are getting closer to being human.
Why do people say Deckard is a replicant?
One of the most enduring questions in cinema history is about Deckard and whether or not he is a replicant. The plot with Rachael sums up that memories can be implanted and a replicant might not know their true identity. So if theory anyone could be a replicant.
The real kick comes with Deckards dreams and their relation to the police officer, Gaff. Throughout the story Deckard has recurring dreams of a unicorn, dreams he never mentions to anyone else. At the end of the movie Gaffs final words are “it’s too bad she won’t live .. but then again, who does?” in relation to the short life span of Rachael. However it’s hinted that the last bit is directed at Deckard himself. To further top things off, Gaff leaves a small origami unicorn, a hint that he knows about the dreams. Thus hinting that they may be implanted.
The movie is ambiguous as to this question, although Ridley Scott has said afterwards that he definitely is. Perhaps Blade Runner 2045 will answer the question fully.