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Logan's Run (1976)

Reviewed by Tom Ender

This was an ambitious film for its time. It shows a vision of the 23rd century which may seem odd today. The film’s use of special effects was pervasive and advanced for its period, but now those effects appear quite dated. Often, the effects are reminiscent of Star Trek (the original TV series), although this movie undoubtedly had a much bigger budget. In other ways as well the film recalls Star Trek.

Special effects have come a long way since 1976. In many ways Fahrenheit 451, which was made ten years earlier, has aged better. I believe this is not only because of better direction, writing and acting. Fahrenheit 451 was moderate in its use of special effects and because of that it seems less dated than Logan’s Run does today. Logan’s Run is being remade. The remake has a scheduled release of 2005. It should be interesting to observe the changes.

Logan’s Run opens in a “nursery” with Logan 5 (Michael York) looking at an infant, Logan 6, through a window. While doing this his work partner Francis 7 (Richard Jordan) joins him and shows his aggressive personality. The “nursery” scene leads to a strange “renewal” ceremony of their society called “carousel” (not related to the Rodgers and Hammerstein classic musical). While they are watching/participating in this rite, they are called to apprehend a “runner.” “Runners” are those who do not care to participate in the carousel ritual and who would instead prefer to just live beyond 30 years. Logan and Francis are “sandmen:” a sort of assassin/cop that pursues “runners” and “terminates” them.

After handling the runner, Logan returns to his apartment and summons a “date.” Jessica 6 (the attractively leggy Jenny Agutter) is what the transporter (which doesn’t seem to be used anywhere else in the movie) presents him. Jessica starts the disruption of Logan’s previously rather unexamined life. She confronts him with the truth that he kills.

Logan is called by a computer, which is apparently in charge of the sandmen. He is told there are many runners who have somehow escaped the system. His life clock is advanced so that he has little time left. He is also inadvertently informed that the “carousel” renewal process is bogus. This is all very unsettling to him. He recognizes a jewelry item during his briefing from the prior encounter with Jessica and after seeking her out, begins a journey to discover where all the missing runners seek their “sanctuary.”

As science fiction Logan’s Run is not really great stuff. Too much time is spent focused on gadgetry. Occasionally the movie seems disconnected. However, there are rewards for the patient viewer who sticks with this movie through the dated early parts. Peter Ustinov is excellent in his role. Unfortunately, he won’t be in the remake.

Heard more than once in Logan’s Run, everyone, from sandman to robotic freezers, is doing their jobs. Another strength is the perception that as long as events roll out as expected most people will accept almost anything, no matter how inimical to their individual existence. Logan’s society is decadent and bizarre. The resolution of the film reverses this in a way that may seem familiar to Star Trek (the original TV series) fans. In other ways, e.g. its strange rituals and costumes, this movie evokes the final episodes of The Prisoner TV series. It also shares many ideas with George Lucas' early work THX 1138.

The Logan's Run DVD has a short feature about the making of the movie as well as commentary and the theatrical trailer.

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