We open on a vast urban slum covered in trash. We focus on Batty (The Protagonist) rummaging through piles of trash and scrap. Occasionally, a flying truck will pass by and dump rubbish like it is spraying corn, litter and paper floating gently down onto the top of the streets. At the bottom of a pile and under some bricks he removes some plastic finding an old stained suitcase. Opening it he finds some toy soldiers, several pieces of paper and a book of beat poetry.
He takes the case to a dealer where other rummagers are cashing in their collections for the day. On the screen above the shack is an electronic pricing board which shows the prices of different rare items.
To get into his home which is located in an apartment building made of storage containers, he unlocks several padlocks. In his house isn’t much, but there is a few books stacked cover on cover in the corner next to the bed. We see the case is gone, but he has the book and he sits to read it before stacking it on top of the pile of books.
He climbs a hole in his roof and lays on top of the storage containers and looks up at the sky, our first chance to see it, and possibly one of the only spots that you can see it from, most direction has been swamped in semi-darkness. He sees the several layers of urban build-up that is floating in different areas and on different rungs, dwindling off out of sight.
He is out in the rummage again. As he is searching he is alerted by a fellow rummager and old friend that a drop from the top tier is imminent and he should stick around, this gives a chance to establish the cast system on the world and also the functions of the rummagers. A small dirty crowd soon appears and prepares for the dump, a large truck pulls up and dumps in one place before flying off again. The small group start to pick through. Batty keeps watching the truck and sees something large fly off the back.
Finding area he thinks he saw the thing fly off of onto he begins a search. He stumbles over what appears to be a dead body, but we quickly perceive it to be a T.I.T.U.S unit. He picks the robot up off the heat, surprised that its small bulk translates to such heavy bulk. Resting it against a wall he deftly attempts to boot up the Artificial intelligence unit. As it does it seems to short and cut out. Growing frustrated he chucks it on his shoulder and heads back towards the merchant strip.
In an auto shop run by an ancient old woman, she studies the Titus and we see in the light that it isn’t that beat up. She runs a diagnostic and tells Batty that everything should be running fine, but she will disable the kill switch anyway.
He takes it home and lying it on his bed he boots it up. It flashes on and a human face appears on the monitor, it sits up and looks around. Its shoulders seem heavy to it. Batty tries to communicate with it through several languages and means but is unable to do more then get it to move around. He tells Titus that, “It is no wonder you are trash.”
Back in the rummage fields again and a montage shows Batty is working with the machine to collect, he walks beside it and chats to it, it seems that Batty hasn’t spoken so continuously for this long forever. At night Batty reads to Titus.
Getting frustrated with the lack of response, Batty heads to the roof to stare at the urban strata above him. Titus joins him, he says in a low voice, “That is where I came from. Can you help me get back?”
Surprised and taken aback, he questions Titus and this leads to a conversation that establishes that Titus was a family A.I, meant to teach and take care of the young girl of the family. He says he must have slipped into the trash and been taken away. Batty tells him that he was faulty and he took him to someone to get repaired and that if he ended on the surface he was probably just trash.
He says, “If you are on the surface, you have probably been dumped for a reason.
This upsets Titus who refuses this. Batty says it takes a lot to get off surface and that he can’t help him, and on hearing this Titus appears to try to leave. Thinking quickly, he tells him that if he helps him get the money through rummaging he will take him up. Titus says he will just go out on his own, but Batty tells him you need a human to travel via strata, no metal heads allowed. Processing this he agrees.
Titus is very efficiently searching through the material, he asks Batty why robots don’t do this job. Batty tells him that there isn’t enough material left on earth create an efficient army of artificial intelligence, and they don’t want to waste it all on what only a few can afford. He tells Titus that only those with amassed wealth on an international scale can afford the credits for a robot. He asks Titus how his family afforded him; he is told that the Mother of the family worked as a CEO for Magi Corp which is the foremost water cultivator off planet, all machines that capture water residual on the upper strata’s are designed and manufactured by them.
Batty is moving on an unstable island trying to reach what he believes is an old recycling bin when the land shifts underneath him and opens a hole in the ground. Titus yells down to him to see if he is ok. Batty finds himself caught by several large rats, bigger than wolves, he screams up to Titus to help him. As one of the rats leap towards Batty, Titus drops down from above and crushes the rat under his metal frame. Several rats flee, but two stay and try and attack Titus. Violently and with a hint of cruelty, he dispatches them automatically. Batty thanks him, but is obviously shocked by the gruesome way in which the creatures were dispatched. Taking a knife he cuts off the tails of the rats and stashes them in a plastic bag.
Back at Batty’s locker he is frying up one of the rat’s tails and is smoking the others. There is an odd silence between the two. Batty tells Titus that he is shocked by his efficiency, Titus responds that it is how he was programmed. He is programmed to protect the family at all costs and with efficient measures. He apologises if it was shocking and promises not to act in such a way again. This relaxes Batty. He looks up at the stars with Titus and watches the Satellites whirling around in orbit, tiny dots caressing the horizon and casting little spots of light upon the land. Batty notices a sense of longing evident on Titus’ face. “Does it hurt to be away from them?” He asks. Titus answers, “I suppose it does hurt, in the sense of how you are asking. What best describes it is what you humans call an itch or a rash. Something that can’t be ignored.”
Batty continues to take advantage of Titus for several weeks, using his efficient machine ability to locate rubbish veins. This makes Batty quite rich. He decides to start spending money on books and buys a copy of Moby Dick. Titus finds Batty reading through the book and becomes angered by this. He reminds Batty that he promised he would help him get back up the strata’s and that he feels he is wasting his time here. Batty initially ignores him so Titus slams his fist against the wall and returns to the waste to scavenge for more. It grows later and later and Batty feels guilty. He goes searching for Titus and finds him sitting on top of a trash pile staring at the stars. Out of guilt, Batty promise that tomorrow they would leave for the outer strata. He tells him that he was abandoned on the surface when he was a kid, his mother worked in the service industry on the top tier but she couldn’t afford to look after him. She sent him down to the surface to live with his father. He taught him to read and left him his bookcase when he passed. Titus asks why he doesn’t sell the books and go off world, he could surely afford it with the quantity alone. Batty makes it clear that he feels that the rubbish heap is where he belongs.
The next day they approach a ship depot that is buzzing with market activity as varying craft take off over-head. Batty is intrigued and looks around as he walks but Titus pushes ahead through the crowd, making a path for him to follow. Although the outside of the depot is crowded, inside there is hardly anyone around, apart from several service robots creating tickets for patrons. They approach one, buy a ticket and head towards a small security checkpoint. They are stopped and checked and the security realizes that Titus is a highly advanced android. They inform Batty that he will have to be shut down for the duration of the trip and stowed in luggage. Batty argues with the guards and tells them that Titus can’t be shut off because his kill switch is disabled, and besides they bought two tickets. Titus smiles gently at the guards and they talk amongst themselves for a moment before waving them on. “You don’t recognise me as living, do you?” Titus asked
“Don’t worry, I don’t see you as living either”
As they settle in on the craft Titus asks Batty where it will fly too. Batty says it will drop them off at another depot in orbit, from which they will go to New York Space station, and then organise another flight to Titus’ former owner’s island satellite. Cuts to New York Space station where the streets are paved in what looks like marble, and the streets are unclogged of pedestrians and markets. Batty and Titus are largely ignored, but several teenagers and children study their unfashionable attire and giggle. Batty becomes self-conscious and then subsequently bitter. He quotes the Great Gatsby, “One things sure and nothings surer, the rich stay rich and the poor get children.” Titus asks, “Are you uncomfortable?” Batty compares the surface world to the satellite, telling Titus that he misses the crush of the people and the anonymity that brings. He says, “No one is alone in a place like this.”
Batty and Titus wait for the next transporter to the Offworld, but they find that they do not have enough money for two tickets. This time Titus makes a decision to be stashed as luggage, despite the indignity. Batty watches through a small glass portal as they approach the satellite mansion and is amazed by the decadence of the place. The transporter slides through the outer shield of the satellite and lands softly. Batty is welcomed off the transporter by a servant on an open landing pad. Titus is pulled out of the luggage and seems to be quite demure and hide behind Batty as they approach the house.
The mansion is massive, with many decedent flourishes: zero-grav pools, transporter and shuttles spread out over a large grassy field several kilometres in length. Batty hasn’t seen grass before and gently steps off the path to reach down and grab a handful. He brings it to his nose and inhales deeply. Titus is bemused by this and leans down as well, pulls a chunk of grass and then scatters it to the artificial wind.
They enter the house and Batty is intrigued by the mazelike layout of the home. They are led by the servant through several vacuum sealed rooms in which the gravity appears different. They finally approach a room that the Barren family, two twenty-year old parents Joanna and Donny and their daughter Crystal. They smile as Batty walks in the door but as soon as they see Titus the parent’s faces seize up in shock. Crystal is caught between complex emotions as she sees her former android guardian.
Donny surges forward and it is quickly made clear that they are not welcome, and in the conversation it is made clear that he was thrown away because Titus was becoming possessive of Crystal and he had broken Donny’s arm in a dispute over access to her.
The family looks weary and Batty looks confused by the reaction that he has received at the home. Titus seems to be processing the information. Titus says, “You programmed me, gave me life. You taught me to be devoted to you. I raised Crystal. I handled her when she was sick and sad. You told me I was a part of the family. What is my purpose?”
“You taught me to love,” He said, “Why would you throw away something that could love you, like I loved you.”
Donny replies, “You need to leave. We can’t have you around being around here. No one wants you hear” As he says this he picks up an ancient baseball bat that is covered in signatures that hangs on the wall near where he is sitting. Batty tries to cool the situation down as Titus repeats, “I was part of the family.” He quickly and methodically launches himself at Donny as the several attending servants scream and Crystal and Joanna recoil in horror. Donny breaks the bat over Titus’ head and it splinters everywhere to ill effect. Batty looks on shocked as Titus lift Donny up and slams him repeatedly against the wall.
Most people in the room starts to flee and Crystal grabs Batty by the hand and drags him through the vacuum sealed door with Joanna. They lock the door and we can see through the glass that blood is splattering over the walls and doors. Joanna and Crystal are in shock and crying, Batty is frozen white. Crystal screams, “Why isn’t he shutting down?”
A gore covered fist starts punching the glass and glances off of it. Batty moves to get people through the hallway, “We got to get out of here.” The glass shatters behind them as Joanna, Crystal and several servants start to flee through the vacuum sealed rooms, shutting the doors behind them. Batty hears some crashing and yelling behind them but keeps running. As he makes it outside he hears an alarm going off and he watches as several servants hop in their personal transporters and start to push off plant. The alarm grows louder and he turns to Joanna and Crystal who are standing beside him watching the transporters. “What is that noise?” He asks. Crystal replies, “I think he is putting the house on lockdown, the ship…” she trails off as we watch several transporters slam into the outer defensive shell of the satellite and burn up.
Crystal grabs Batty’s arm and drags him towards a building in the distance. They hear a crash from one of the windows and Batty looks up to watch a battered corpse drop from the house and onto the ground in front of them. Titus sits in the window staring after them.
The building is an access tunnel into the inner workings of the satellite and Batty, Joanna, and Crystal lock themselves in. Joanna flips through her phone and they watch a bank of screens that shows several camera angles in the house. The house is a mess of gore and destructions. Titus calmly walks through each frame and rips the camera mounts off the wall. They continue deeper into the mechanical workings of the satellite and Joanna contacts the Offworld police, and they tell her they will get their soon.
Batty hears a tapping of metal on metal in the distance and Titus’ voice calls out to him and echoes through the numerous tunnels, “Thank you for bringing me here, Batty. If you are with Crystal just direct me to you.”
Batty responds, “What are you doing Titus?”
He says, “Scratching an itch.”
Titus tries to convince Batty to give up Joanna and Crystal, still holding onto the idea that Batty is on his side and would condone what he has done. From the short conversation that they have it becomes obvious that Batty is considering saving his own neck. Crystal pipes up, “Why did you come back Titus?”
“For you, of course. They took me away from you.”
“Why didn’t you stay shut down?”
“I believe that feature has been disabled.”
“But you promised me you would stay away.”
The banging on the pipes grows louder as Titus draws closer in the dark. Titus says, “But I love you. You are my daughter, why would I promise that.”
She responds, “You told me you would protect me from the monster.”
The banging stops and Batty looks down the hallway and watches a shadow figure standing stock still in the middle of the walk way. Titus’s voice echoes out, “It hurts to not be here for you. I feel the pulses in my brain spasm every minute that I am not here with the family. I have to live for a very long time, at least this may give me some peace.”
He launches himself down the hallway knocking Batty to the ground and grabs Joanna by the neck, slamming her into the pipes, hard enough to cause them to rupture in sharp splintered metal and water to come out. He throws Joanna down the hall. Crystal stands defiantly, feet planted, as Titus turns to her. He kneels down and motions for her to hug him. She steps forward boldly and looks past Titus to Batty who is pulling himself up, leaning on a broken part of the pipe for support. She steps up close to Titus and attempts to slam his head onto the shattered pipe, but he barely moves. His hand grabs her wrist and starts to slowly tighten. Crystal screams and his other hand goes for her throat. As he reaches out Batty swings the pipe at Titus’ head, smashing it onto the shattered remains of the ruptured pipe. A metal shard tears through his jaw. Titus pulls himself off it and spins around, knocking Batty down and grabbing the pipe.
Joanna is badly injured but has managed to crawl over to Crystal. Cuddling her she whisper into her ear, “Don’t worry. Soon the monster will be gone again.” Titus is distracted by this insult and turns for a moment, just as Batty jumps up and tackles him, impaling him on the metal pipe spike. The life drains from Titus. He says, “I’m sorry.” As he dies.
These battered three emerge from the underground tunnels in time to see the outer shields open and several police transporters streaming through. Batty sits down on the grass and pulls out some tufts. He stares back at Earth for a while, before throwing the tufts of grass up into the wind.
He returns home, goes through his things and collects together his books and some clothes. Piling them together into a pack. We next see him walking towards the bus depot where he disappears amongst the market crowd.