Logan's Run
directed by Michael Anderson
(MGM, 1976)

In the year 2274, the human race resides in a beautiful domed city, somewhere in the vicinity of Washington, D.C. Everyone is attractive, no one works too hard, clothing is fairly scanty and sex is a popular commodity.

On the other hand, everyone is killed on their 30th birthday, supposedly as a means of population control. Only no one seems aware that the explosive deaths they gather regularly to watch at the Carousel are real -- they assume the souls of their friends (family has no meaning in a society where babies are born and nurtured in a machine-run nursery) are being "renewed" for additional lives.

Logan 5 (Michael York) is a Sandman, one of the elite police officers assigned to track down and kill those occasional misguided citizens who run instead of facing up to their duty-bound demises. But the maternal computer who runs the city turns him into a fugitive in hopes he'll find the fabled Sanctuary, where runners try to escape their deaths and live to a ripe old age. The rebellious Jessica (Jenny Agutter) lends a hand, while fellow Sandman Francis (Richard Jordan) gives chase. And then there's Peter Ustinov as the old man; he, more than anyone else in the movie, is an absolute treat.

It's an intriguing story, but it's not good science fiction. There are too many gaps in the tale: Why are people still being killed, and why in such an elaborate fashion? Since runners can be tracked by signals from their life-clocks, why is it so hard for authorities to find the way to Sanctuary? Who put Box (Roscoe Lee Browne) in the ice cave and programmed him to freeze food sources (and why didn't the director notice that you can sometimes see his lips through the faux metal mask)? Who let such a horrible performance by Farrah Fawcett-Majors (as Holly, your friendly New You receptionist) pass through editing? Does anyone really believe a computer will overload if you supply it with an answer it doesn't want to hear? And why are the Sandmen such lousy shots?

The movie earned a Special Achievement Award (in lieu of an Oscar) for its visual effects, but by 21st-century standards, they're amateurish at best. Truly, the film ranks poorly even compared to Star Wars, which was released only one year later.

Now attaining almost cult status, Logan's Run is almost better suited for a young audience, but filmmakers slipped just enough nudity in to make it inappropriate for younger viewers. For adults who don't mind suspending their disbelief to an unusually high level, it's a fun sci-fi excursion despite the failings of the plot.

[ by Tom Knapp ]
Rambles: 14 September 2002

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