In the distant future, after a devastating world war, people inhabit a domed city where they each live for thirty years. When they reach thirty, they are “renewed” on the Carousel, and anyone who tries to escape this fate is hunted down by the Sandmen and “terminated”. One Sandman, Logan (Michael York) enjoys his work and believes he will be privileged enough for renewal in four years’ time, but as one of the events is being staged he gets a message from control to tell him another “Runner” is trying to escape. He terminates him with ease – but finds some curious artifacts on the body.
Would be sci-fi blockbuster Logan’s Run was adapted from William F. Nolan and George Clayton Johnson’s novel by David Zelag Goodman as if it were set in a futuristic version of Roman times, complete with tunics for the cast and the same kind of daily cruelty (on the spot executioner Logan has to be bad before he can improve) and decadence taken for granted by all. In effect, it depicts a far off world not unlike a seventies shopping mall (probably because it was shot at an actual seventies shopping mall in Texas), where Logan has his consciousness raised by wide-eyed Jenny Agutter as member of the resistance Jessica. They both go in the run, pursued by Logan’s ex-best friend (Richard Jordan offering the drama a jolt of adrenaline).
The civilians in this world all live for casual sex, jacuzzis and plastic surgery, watched over by a sinister supercomputer and executed for their own good in a particularly tacky display which they attend as if it were an event at some future Coliseum. Naturally, this hedonistic world is no place for a sensitive person to live. The film says that we should accept ageing instead of preventing it, grow old gracefully like, Peter Ustinov has as he shows up in the final half hour to be cooed over by Logan and Jessica, having never seen an elderly person in the flesh before, or even in photographs – the film got a lot of mileage out of their naivety.
Be at peace with yourself, don’t be so shallow goes the moral; yes, it’s all that 1970′s self-improvement in action, and the story conveniently fades out at the end before any of it is put into practice. The film looks glossy but remains fairly unimpressive – just look at the killer robot Box (Roscoe Lee Browns) for cheap hilarity, though it is notable he was the only non-white person in the entire movie, and even then was made up as a silver-colored entity. Whether this was a sobering indication of what kind of society which would not tolerate the mixing of whatever races were left or simple short-sightedness in the casting is up to the viewer. Whatever, it obviously took a lot of money for the production to look that chintzy.
In the end, it’s comes across as being as empty-headed as the cityfolk, with the finale, where a computer malfunction leads to mass destruction, seeming like a slight overreaction, to say the least. But if it’s a slice of prime seventies cheese you’re looking for, look no further than this more than faintly silly production of the sort which would be blown away the very next year by the advent of Star Wars. You just didn’t get this sort of sci-fi after that cinematic landscape-altering event, and some may feel nostalgic for the time when a brief glimpse of Jenny Agutter nudity turned legions of fanboys into fanmen. Music, a mixture of electronic beeps and a sweeping orchestra, is by Jerry Goldsmith. A couple of points to ponder: are Michael and Jenny attempting to put on American accents? They can’t seem to decide. And is that really an extra performing the Vulcan salute during the final crowd shot?
I think I will always be a fan of this film.