Logan’s Run

logans_run_movie_posterIn the 23rd Century, having survived a laundry list of apocalyptic scenarios, humanity lives in a huge domed city and the population is governed and controlled by a computer that has decreed that nobody can live past the age of thirty.  When their time is up, they participate in a ceremony called “carrousel” in which they hope for something called “renewal” but usually end up dying.  Some of the citizens who are pushing thirty don’t thing this is right and take a chance at running, hoping to find a mythical safe place outside the city named Sanctuary.  It’s up to a group of police named Sandmen, among them Logan 5 (Michael York) to stop them.

However, when Logan is assigned to go undercover as a runner and the computer advances his “age crystal” (everyone has a crystal in their hand whose color denotes how close they are to thirty), he realizes that he has to actually become a runner and gets help from an insurgent/runner named Jessica 6 (Jenny Agutter) all the while being pursued by Logan’s partner and best friend, Francis  7 (Richard Jordan).

This is a 1970s sci-fi classic that I’ve heard talked about and referenced time and again but believe it or not had never actually seen, not even in bits and pieces on TV or cable or on a Hollywood clip show.  It’s currently streaming on Netflix and has a pretty tight runtime–two hours–so I decided to see if it’s worth the amount of praise that it seems to get from my podcasting cohorts.

Amazingly, it pretty much does.  Now, before going in, you have to take into account that this was made in 1976, so Logan’s Run is a pre-Star Wars science fiction film, and while that sounds silly to say, Star Wars really was that much of a game changer when it came out in 1977.  Anyway, much of the film hits me right in the sweet spot.  The dystopian setup is simple and effective with the whole “carrousel” ceremony being appropriately weird.  The setting is that of what I can only describe as a mall inside EPCOT Center (and a number of the buildings could pass as casinos in Vegas).  And Jerry Goldsmith’s score is a good one, especially when we’re inside the city and he’s giving us some futuristic synth sounds.

Some parts of the film aren’t perfect.  Toward the middle of the film, Logan and Jessica (with Francis in pursuit) make it outside of the city and while there’s some interesting stuff in there, the sequence goes on too long and slows the movie down, which leads to the climax feeling rushed.  Still, the actors do a very good job of getting across how messed up the dystopian society was to generations of humanity (they literally don’t know what the sun is … and why should they when their lives have been under the dome and controlled by the computer for more years than anyone can remember) and despite its feeling rushed, the climax does feel earned.

This isn’t one I’m going to go out and buy, but it’s definitely worth repeated viewings when I’m able to find it.

Buy, Rent, or Skip?

Rent.

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