Blade Runner Plot

The plot in Blade Runner

We are made aware that the film is set in Los Angeles, 2019.

In a high-level room of the Tyrell Corporation building a man is seen administering a test to a recent employee named Leon Kowalski. An elaborate machine is set up on the table in between the two men, and it appears to be measuring Leon’s eye responses to the questions that the man asks. Leon becomes increasingly nervous and paranoid during the questioning, and reaches breaking point when he is asked to list all the positive aspects about his mother. Leon shoots the man once through the table with a gun that he had been hiding underneath, and then stands up and shoots the man again, sending him crashing through the wall of the room.

Holden, a blade runner, gives a VK test to the replicant Leon inside the Tyrell Corporation building

While eating dinner at an Asian noodle bar in Chinatown, a (semi) retired ‘blade runner’ named Rick Deckard is approached by two officers and told that he is under arrest by order of Captain Bryant and must accompany them. One of the officers, named Gaff, flies Deckard to the police headquarters in a ‘spinner’ (an advanced flying police car). Gaff takes Deckard into Captain Bryant’s office. Bryant informs Deckard that six ‘replicants’ (biologically engineered humans) escaped from an off-world colony and have made their way back to earth and are in Los Angeles. This is a violation of law. One of them has since died (this is a story error, as there only appear to be four replicants in the film). Deckard is given the task of ‘retiring’ (killing) the replicants – a task that he has completed before in the past, but has since grown tired of. He tries to decline, but Bryant tells him he has no choice, and it can be inferred that Deckard would lose his police privileges (and possibly pay) if he refused to accept the task. Bryant briefs Deckard regarding the replicants, and he shows him a video of the first scene in the film – we learn that the man administering the test to Leon was another blade runner named Holden, and that Leon himself was one of the escaped replicants. We learn that there are four replicants on the loose – Roy, Zhora, Pris and Leon, all of which have differing mental abilities and behavioural traits. They are all ‘Nexus-6’ model replicants engineered by the Tyrell Corporation, the most advanced kind of replicant, almost indistinguishable from ordinary humans. Bryant informs Deckard that they have been specially designed to have a four-year lifespan, so as to prevent them from gaining independent thoughts, feelings and emotions that would likely render them hard to control.

Captain Byrant gives Deckard a run-down on the group of escaped Nexus-6 replicants

Gaff is assigned to accompany Deckard on his mission and keep an eye on his actions. Deckard is first sent to the Tyrell Corporation to ensure that the ‘Voight-Kampff’ test works on the latest model Nexus-6 replicants. This is the test that we saw being administered by Holden on Leon at the beginning of the film. Inside Tyrell’s office, he meets an assistant named Rachael. Eldon Tyrell, the head of the corporation, asks Deckard to administer the test on Rachael; seemingly just out of curiosity to see how it works. After an unusually long period of questioning, it is revealed that Rachael failed the test. Impressed by this, Tyrell explains to Deckard that she is a new kind of experimental replicant, one that has been implanted with a lifetime of false memories so as to make her believe that she is human and give her an ‘emotional cushion’, rendering her easier to control.

In the Eldon Tyrell's enourmous temple-like office, Deckard administers a VK test to Rachael

Deckard and Gaff then head to Leon’s apartment. Leon is not there, so Deckard looks around. He finds a snake scale in the shower, and a collection of photos in a drawer. He keeps them both. While this is happening Leon makes his way home to his apartment, but decides against going inside when he realises that Gaff and Deckard are in there.

Roy and Leon go into a shop called ‘Eye Works’ and interrogate Chew, a genetic eye designer who works for Tyrell. Roy wants answers regarding the nature of his lifespan as a replicant, and wants to meet Eldon Tyrell, but Chew is unable to help. Instead, he directs them to a man named J.F. Sebastian as their best hope.

Roy and Leon stop in for surprise visit to 'Eye Works', a subcontractor for the Tyrell Corporation

Rachael surprises Deckard in the elevator as he is travelling up to his apartment. He reluctantly lets her inside, where she attempts to prove to him that she is a human by showing him a photo of herself with her mother when she was a little girl. Deckard tells her that her memories have been implanted and are in fact those of Eldon Tyrell’s niece, not her own. Rachael begins to cry, and leaves.

Pris plants herself outside the Bradbury Building where J.F. Sebastian lives. When he arrives home from work and approaches the door of the building, she acts surprised and scared when she sees him. She explains that she does not have a home and that she is hungry, so J.F. Sebastian invites her inside to stay.

J.F. Sebastian leads the deceptive replicant Pris up to his apartment in the seemingly empty Bradbury Building

While sitting at his piano in his apartment, Deckard seems to have a vision of a white unicorn running through a forest. He then gets up and uses an advanced machine to analyse one of the photos he found in Leon’s apartment. The photo is recent and was taken inside the apartment itself. Using the machine to enhance and manipulate the image, it is revealed that there was a woman sleeping in the apartment at the time the photo was taken. A hard copy printout of her face shows that she has a snake tattoo on her left cheek.

Deckard goes to the marketplace and has the snake scale analysed. It is revealed to be from a high-quality artificial snake that is sold by a man named Abdul Ben Hassan. Deckard locates the seller, and interrogates him. Hassan tells Deckard that the snake was bought by a man named Taffey Lewis, who owns a nightclub in Chinatown.

Deckard goes into the nightclub and tries to talk to Taffey without much success. He has a couple of drinks, and then makes a videocall to Rachael to apologise and invite her to the nightclub for a drink. She declines and hangs up. Back at the bar, Deckard briefly watches a woman named ‘Miss Salome’ start an erotic dance with a snake up on stage. The woman is the replicant Zhora. After the act, Deckard goes backstage and talks to Zhora in her dressing room, posing as a member from the ‘Confidential Committee on Moral Abuses’. She gets suspect and punches Deckard then attempts to strangle him. However, other women begin to enter the room while she is attempting this, so she flees out a back door of the nightclub. Deckard gives chase through the city, eventually shooting Zhora twice in the back and killing her.

Deckard takes aim at Zhora, moments before delivering the fatal shots

Captain Bryant appears at the scene and informs Deckard that he has four replicants left to retire – the fourth being Rachael, who has since disappeared from the Tyrell Corporation. Gaff and Bryant leave.

Deckard then sees Rachael across the street. As he attempt to cross and meet her, he is set upon by Leon, who had earlier witnessed Deckard kill Zhora. A struggle ensues. Just as he is about to kill Deckard, Rachael shoots Leon in the head with the gun that had been knocked out of Deckard’s hands earlier in the fight.

Back in his apartment, Deckard and Rachael discuss a number of issues. Deckard attempts to kiss Rachael but she pulls away and tries to leave. Apprehending her at the door of his apartment, Deckard forcefully grabs hold of Rachael and kisses her again.

Roy comes up to J.F.’s apartment to meet up with Pris and talk to J.F. They reveal that they are Nexus-6 replicants and persuade J.F. to help them get to Eldon Tyrell.

Late at night, Roy and J.F. travel in a lift up to the top floor of the Tyrell Corporation building where Eldon resides. Through an intercom in the lift, J.F. tells Eldon of a move he has made in a game of correspondence chess that they two are engaged in, and calls ‘checkmate’. Intrigued, Eldon suggests that J.F. come inside. Roy and J.F. enter, and a confrontation between Roy and Eldon begins. After learning that the lifespan of the Nexus-6 replicant cannot be extended, Roy kills Eldon.

Roy finally 'meets his maker' thanks to help from J.F. Sebastian

Deckard goes up to J.F.’s apartment in the Bradbury Building. Pris hears him coming, and poses dead still amongst the dolls and toys as Deckard enters the main room. He approaches and stands in front of Pris, examining her. She then kicks him in the stomach, sending him flying across the room. A fight ensues. Deckard manages to shoot Pris twice in the stomach, killing her. At this point Roy returns to the apartment, finding Pris dead on the floor. A lengthy confrontation ensues between Roy and Deckard, which essentially features Deckard being hunted by and running away from Roy in fear of his life. Deckard ends up hanging off the edge of the roof of the building. As he slips off, Roy saves him by grabbing hold of his arm and hoisting him back up onto the roof. Extremely close to his pre-determined expiration date, Roy then sits down and delivers a speech to Deckard. When he is done talking, he dies.

Deckard on the brink of death after being hunted by Roy: "Quite an experience to live in fear, isn't it?" Roy asks Deckard

Gaff lands on the roof of the building in the police spinner and briefly talks to Deckard, throwing him back his gun.

Deckard goes back to his apartment. The door is ajar. Gun drawn, he cautiously enters and finds Rachael lying asleep on the bed. He wakes her, and they both leave. As he directs Rachel up the hallway and into the elevator, he notices that a small silver paper origami in the shape of a unicorn has been left in the hallway in front of his door. He picks it up and examines it, then turns and enters the elevator with Rachael.

Deckard comes back after his life-changing experience with Roy to find Rachael is alive

[end of film]

* Depending on which version of the film you see, some plot elements may be slightly different. The ending especially – in versions before the 1992 Director’s Cut, Deckard and Rachael are seen driving away along a mountain road, presumably to a more natural place away from the corrupted city. The above plotline was derived from the 1992 Director’s Cut version of the film.

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