Tuesday, January 11, 2011

"Logan's Run" (1976)

Starring Michael York, Richard Jordan and Jenny Agutter
Written by David Z. Goodman
Directed by Michael Anderson

Logan's Run [Blu-ray]In the 23rd century, the remnants of humanity live in a great, domed city.  Everyone lives their life in total pursuit of pleasure until the age of 30, when they are called to Carousel, a strange and deadly ritual which promises that some will be reborn in Renewal.  Logan-5 (Michael York) is a Sandman, whose responsibility is to police the city and track down Runners, those who defy the rules and attempt to flee instead of going through Carousel.

One day, he meets Jessica-6 (Jenny Agutter), who has a strange pendant around her neck that Logan doesn't recognize.  He's attracted to her, and her to him, but she's frightened by the fact that he's a Sandman, and she leaves.  The next day, Logan is tasked with a secret mission: to contact Jenny and have her take him to Sanctuary, where it is believed runners who have escaped the Sandmen may be hiding.  Unfortunately, this mission puts him at odds with his partner and friend, Francis-7 (Richard Jordan) who hunts Logan and Jenny when they become Runners.  Also after them are Jenny's friends, who don't believe Logan is really running, and want him dead because he's a Sandman. 

Once Logan and Jenny escape the city, they discover the truth: there is no Sanctuary.  And that there's no reason for anyone to die at age 30.  They can all grow old, older than they'd imagined.  Logan and Jenny decide they must return to the city in order to reveal the truth to the population.

"Logan's Run" is a weird, wacky little film.  It looks and feels extremely 1970s, with all the clothes and hair that implies.  Hell, even Farrah Fawcett has a cameo appearance!  The special effects are dated, but worthy in the attempt.  The miniature model for the city is pretty impressive, as are some of the composites. 

The big failing of "Logan's Run" is really that it just sort of feels like a big "Twilight Zone" episode, or a ripoff of "Planet of the Apes" rather than being its own thing.  Now, that's sort of a strange thing to say since "Logan's Run" has a number of its own highly recognizable concepts and images, and it has lived on in the public conscious since.  But much of the third act, when Logan and Jessica come to the ruins of Washington DC and then travel back to the city evokes "Planet of the Apes" so much that it's hard to ignore. 

Still, it's intriguing enough and well made enough to hold attention.  And the cheesier, trippier parts are pretty damn wild.  I'd be interested to see what it's like watching "Logan's Run" while high as a kite, especially the Carousel sequences, or the bizarre "surrogate" interrogation chamber at the film's climax.  There's fun to be had here, and the film has certainly cemented its status as a cult classic.  The premise itself is inspired, and there have long been talks of a remake, which would be quite interesting to see with modern effects and storytelling sensibilities.