As the dates depicted in their film approach, it is always interesting to look at how film makers imagined the future. Yesterday, this column reviewed “WarGames,” a classic science fiction film from the early 1980s. While it did not probe the future per se, it was a cautionary tale about what can happen when humans yield too much power to technology. Another memorable science fiction film from that era that grapples with smart technology is “Blade Runner,” from 1982. Much darker than “WarGames,” “Blade Runner” is set in 2019, and it offers a sobering view of the human condition.
“Blade Runner” is set in a futuristic Los Angeles. The movie’s protagonist is Rick Deckard (played by Harrison Ford), a recently retired “blade runner,” or cop who kills replicants. Replicants are artificial people with a lifespan of a few years. They are used outside of the planet. When a group of replicants hijack a ship that goes to earth. Rick is assigned by his boss, Bryant (played by M. Emmet Walsh) to find and destroy them. Their leader is Roy Batty (played by Rutger Hauer). As he searches for them, the divorced cop falls for Rachael (played by Sean Young), a replicant who thinks she is human.
The look of “Blade Runner” is striking. It is set in 2019, which is only a few years from now, but in the early 1980s, it seemed like the distant future. In the film, super high tech buildings and flying cars are the norm. There is an alien feel to Los Angeles.
Harrison Ford is excellent as Rick. His work here is more somber and toned down than in the “Star Wars” and “Indiana Jones” films. Sean Young is also quite good as Rachael. Although she is technically a replicant, she has more human qualities than some of the real humans in the film. Another memorable performance is by Daryl Hannah, who plays a replicant working with Roy.
“Blade Runner” is a must-see for any science fiction fan.