Ridley Scott's tech-noir Blade Runner provides a lot for viewers to unpack. It isn't solely comprised of the dreamy cinematography of flying cars weaving through skyscrapers and rain-soaked neon streets. It postulates that as humanity continues to advance to each new technological triumph, it doesn't stop to question the necessity of such actions, merely that the ends justify the means. Enter Replicants, artificial life forms that look so close to humans no one can tell the difference.
Several have gone rogue from their post on an Off-World colony, necessitating a retired Blade Runner (Harrison Ford) to hunt them down. As he stalks the streets of 2019 Los Angeles searching for clues to lead to their capture, viewers may begin to see that for all its philosophical overtones and sharp visuals, it's often artistic for its own sake. It's often full of plotholes and forsakes the logic of its own story for style and impact. Read on for 10 things that make no sense about the sci-fi opus.
10 IDENTIFYING A REPLICANT
In the beginning of the film, it's established that in order to retire a replicant, they must be subject to a VK test to determine their empathy levels. When Holden is sent to give the test to Leon, why doesn't he recognize him? It's established that all replicants have dossiers, because we see their mugshots lined up later on in the film. This proves there's a unique database that exists of every replicant's face on record.
Also, if it comes to identifying replicants in the streets, why can't Deckard or other Blade Runners use an EMF reader to locate them? They have machine components under their synthetic flesh, so their electromagnetic impulses would assuredly register on such devices.
9 DECKARD'S REPLICANT STATUS
One of the mysteries at the nucleus of the entire film, the "is he or isn't he" a replicant is supposed to give layers to Harrison Ford's performance. At times, he acts and comes across as "robotic", while other times, he's the one introducing the concept of feelings and love to a replicant (Rachel).
Is he the 6th missing replicant alluded to in the film? He certainly isn't as strong as any of the other replicants, allowing himself to get thrown around by Batty like the sack of bones that he is. Batty and the other replicants also don't recognize him as one of their own, which presumably they could.
8 DISTRUST OF REPLICANTS
The Tyrell Corporation makes amazing artificial lifeforms, some of which (on a remote colony) stage an uprising, and suddenly they are persona non grata. This necessitated the Blade Runners in the first place, and their presence on Earth is outlawed.
Replicants begin to develop emotional responses towards the end of their short lives, which is apparently the cause for their unpredictability. To make them more predictable, they're given memory implants to make them think they're human. Is this done so that they won't have an existential crisis, like Roy Batty? Otherwise, why make replicants that are more human than human if Earth is simply going to outlaw them over distrust?
7 THE REPLICANT DESIGN
With skin that feels warm to the touch, countenances that look like any other face in the crowd, and memories of a loving childhood, the Tyrell Corporation made synthetic life forms that looked and behaved like humans. They even bled when injured.
This was supposedly to make the public less uneasy working alongside them. Except it wasn't the public on Earth, it was the outer colonies, so why go through all that effort? And if the short life-spans and memories were created to make them more docile, why didn't the Tyrell Corporation understand that even replicants that think they're humans could rebel too. Being labor slaves and pleasure slaves would make humans revolt as well, given the conditions.
6 THE LACK OF TECHNOLOGY
One of the main problems that any science fiction film has is that the technological advancement shown on-screen stems from the time in which the film was made. This means that because Blade Runner was filmed in the early '80s, it has all the projected technological advancement of that time, implied to be relevant in 2019.
While this can explain some outdated television/computer hybridization, Tron also came out in 1982, and the computers it featured were more advanced than in Blade Runner, and that was supposed to be in the future. Besides, if Star Trek: The Original Series could predict iPads, surely Blade Runner could predict self-driving cars?
5 HOW DID BATTY KNOW WHO DECKARD WAS?
In the exciting climax of the film, Deckard has tracked Batty to the Bradbury building and engages him in a fight to the death. As they brawl, Batty addresses Deckard by his name, something he's never shown on the screen to know, or have come across.
How is this possible? One theory that's been offered by fans is that Deckard is one of the original missing replicants, captured, and implanted with new memories. Batty would recognize him as his former compatriot. Another is that Batty would have done some of his own investigating of the person responsible for killing Leon and Zhora.
4 IT'S NEVER SUNNY
One of the best parts about Blade Runner is its ambiance and atmosphere. The environment of futuristic Los Angeles is one of black skies, perpetual rain, and a decaying grime to everything. The buildings are so tall, it's difficult to see where they end and the dark sky begins.
Between 1982 and 2019, what could have happened to create this environment? In the novel "Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep", author Philip K. Dick mentions a nuclear war but nowhere in the film does Ridley Scott mention if nuclear fallout was also his inspiration. He's mainly said that the setting allowed for sets and models to be made cheaper because the rain and detritus hid any imperfections.
3 DECKARD AND RACHAEL'S RELATIONSHIP
Rachael is a pragmatic character, a replicant so real she seems human, to the point where the best Blade Runner in Los Angeles can't tell the difference. She looks great (played by the alluring Sean Young), but her dialogue is stilted, and the only "character development" she gets is an emotional jumping-off point for Deckard.
He's attracted to her, sure, but is she attracted to him? He basically forces himself on her in an attempt to get an emotional response out of her. By placing her in new emotional territory, he attempts to further make her more human than human because she doesn't know what she is. Most importantly, the fact that he would run away for this woman he barely knows is unexplainable. She's "the love interest", so it's narrative imperative.
2 PUTTING RACHAEL ON THE KILL LIST
When Blade Runner opens, Deckard is supposedly retired from the business of hunting replicants. Gaff has been sent by Captain Bryant to recruit him to take down several rogue units. When one of them (Leon) tries to kill Deckard, Rachael appears and shoots Leon with Deckard's gun.
Later, after Deckard kills Zhora, Captain Bryant calls Deckard and explains Rachel has vanished from Tyrell Corporation and she's to be killed. Why? Couldn't Deckard have explained that she left at his insistence? That he was worried for her safety, after she killed her own kind to assist in his Blade Runner duties?
1 THE UNICORN VISION
In Ridley Scott's "Final Cut" version of the film, released in 2002, Deckard falls asleep at the piano and has a vision of a unicorn. It glides through a mist-filled forest in slow motion and wasn't in the theatrical cut of the film. Gaff later leaves an origami unicorn at Deckard's apartment.
Why? A long-held theory has been that Gaff read about the dream in Deckard's file because the dream was an implanted memory. Some fans have said Gaff's memory, which doesn't make sense since the two men are nothing alike. The only purpose of the dream seems to be to make the viewer question Deckard's identity.