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  • Writer's pictureJoe Pace

Favorite Fictional Characters, #347: Roy Batty

He's done...questionable things.

True Confessions: I don't love Blade Runner. Oh, I respect Ridley Scott and adore Harrison Ford and I totally acknowledge how important and artistic and groundbreaking the film is. I just don't find it terribly watchable. It drags ponderously, it lingers on future-noir cinematography, it plods along like ice melting on a cold day. Ford's Decker isn't very likable or heroic, and you would think a movie with such indolent pacing would give him and the other human characters a bit more depth. That's saved for the replicants, and maybe that's part of the narrative here - the robots are human and the humans robotic. And in Rutger Hauer finest performance, Roy Batty is the most human of them all.

Physically and intellectually perfect, Roy was designed to be an efficient and ruthless killing machine. And he is. But he's also curious, and thoughtful, and above all covetous of more life. It's hard not to feel some sympathy for these disposable golems, pre-loaded with expiration dates and desperate to find some means of existing beyond them. It's a very human conceit to load into these androids, the quest for one more day, one more year - and the fear that when we die everything we've ever been is gone, like tears in the rain. Hauer's nuanced portrayal of Batty is fantastic, a beacon of dynamism in an otherwise motionless landscape. His capacity for stone-faced diffidence, kinetic violence, and tortured sorrow, sometimes within the same line of dialogue, make Batty impossible to look away from. There's just not enough of him, like a single chocolate chip in an otherwise serviceable but bland cookie.

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