|LOGAN'S RUN (1976)|
Michael Anderson Jr.
|Logan 5: "There... is... no... sanctuary."|
|Time: 120 mins.|
Genre: Science Fiction/Action/Romance
Won Special Achievement Oscar for Visual Effects. Nominated for Art Direction and Cinematography.
I have to admit I was rather scared to watch this movie again. It's been a long time since I originally saw LOGAN'S RUN and sci-fi classics have a habit of becoming silly and outdated with age. I was afraid the story would be cheesy and the effects awful. Well, at certain points they were, but, for the most part LOGAN'S RUN is still a compelling film about the future and what it would be like to live in a utopian society. You have to die at age 30, but we all know that it's downhill after that point anyway, so maybe it wouldn't be so bad. Especially since life in the 23rd Century is all about fun. No work, no bills, no problems. A life devoted to personal pleasure. Now if only you didn't have to die, it'd be perfect. Of course, without that aspect, the film would be very boring or soft core porn. As it is, LOGAN'S RUN is an intriguing, action adventure that makes you think, but not enough to make your brain hurt.
The film stars Michael York, a British hunk I can't help but love. There's just something about his high cheekbones, broad grin, slim physique and proper accent that makes me quiver. He's athletic without being overly muscled and clearly has a sensitive side. Just the kind of man to play the renegade hero Logan 5. Logan starts out the film as a Sandman, a sort of policeman of the time, whose job is to stop Runners people who try to escape the domed city instead of dying in the Carousel. Everyone has a crystal embedded in the palm of their hand and when your time's up it turns red and starts to blink. Once that happens you're supposed to calmly proceed to the Carousel where you and everyone else whose palms are blinking sacrifice themselves while the rest of the civilization watches and cheers you on. Talk about wacky entertainment ideas. Supposedly, when you're blasted to kingdom come, you become "renewed" and have a chance to be reborn hence the names with numbers after them. However, there's a contingent of the population who dream of a world outside the dome. A place called Sanctuary.
Logan has no qualms about his job or his place in the world. For every person "renewed," a new baby is created, thus keeping the society in perfect balance. He can't understand why anyone would want to run. Looking for a little love, he searches the database of available ladies and transports Jessica 6 (Agutter) to his apartment. She immediately regrets signing up and refuses to sleep with Logan. He's intrigued by her denial and her ideas about life and death. Why should she be sad that her friend was renewed? That's just the way it is. What can they do about it? She eludes to a better place, somewhere that you live without fear of death. The society's leadership played by a female-voiced super computer is tired of the runners and recruits Logan to pretend to be one of them to discover the whereabouts of Sanctuary in order to destroy it. Being a good Sandman, Logan agrees, but is displeased when he is stripped of 4 years of his life, ones the computer does not agree to give back when the assignment is over.
Logan tries everything to convince Jessica that he's serious about running the blinking red crystal embedded in his palm helps but her compatriots are wary. They have a right to be. As he and Jessica try to escape, he is followed by his best friend, fellow Sandman Francis (Jordan), who is unaware of Logan's secret mission. After several harrowing encounters, Logan and Jessica make it to the outside world, but it's not at all what they expected. There's no food or water, the day's are hot, the nights cold. They push on convinced they will eventually find the others and Sanctuary. What they come upon is the overgrown ruins of Washington DC and one old man (Ustinov) surrounded by his battalion of cats. The customs of this new world are strange and unfamiliar. This man doesn't have the crystal in his palm and he was raised by his parents. Logan and Jessica realize that everything they've been told all their lives is a lie. You can be a family and grow old. His anger forces him to return to the domed city to stop the Carousels and free the others once and for all.
The very end is completely ridiculous, but I guess the filmmakers didn't really have any place else to take the script. Despite some weak plot points and some really awful effects, LOGAN'S RUN for the most part is vintage sci-fi that is still fairly relevant today. The holographic effects used during Logan's interrogation were cutting edge in '76 and are totally cool now. The art direction is also wonderfully evocative of a futuristic era. The only truly bad visual effects are the ice cave-in and the city's destruction at the finale. It's also pretty clear that the stylistic domed city is nothing more than a model. The fact that STAR WARS came out a year later with effects like no one had ever seen is pretty amazing. I can't help but wonder what that technology would have done for a film like this. Even though this is a sci-fi action adventure piece, Michael York really gives his all, infusing Logan with heart and intelligence. As the token naked babe, Jenny Agutter also does an above average job. Farrah is horrible and silly. Richard Jordan, relentless and heartbreaking.
All in all, I was stunned to find myself glued to the screen wondering what would happen next. The film slows to a crawl when they reach the outside world, but the first hour is so jam-packed with good fun that you don't really mind the breather. The ending is somewhat jarring and sudden, but by that point you've pretty much had enough, so you probably won't mind all that much. The extras on the DVD are worth seeing, especially if you're a big fan of the film. This is definitely a film that needs to be seen in letterboxed format, otherwise you're going to miss more than you see. If you're a fan of sci-fi and haven't seen this film, shame on you. LOGAN'S RUN may not be the best film made in the 70s, but it's definitely one you'll never forget. Especially, as you approach your 30th birthday.