Logan’s Run (1976)

Before the advent of Star Wars, sci-fi films were not the explosive action-oriented films of today. Many of them were serious, but often far-out forays into such concepts as the futile pursuit of utopia, and the prevalence . They were also much slower in pace, and had a generally colder atmosphere. Sometimes this approach worked, but other times it came across as rather pedantic. On that note, this film is plagued by some of the more pretentious clichés of early 70’s sci-fi. This film could and perhaps should have been a sci-fi classic, and in some circles it is, but it clearly squandered its potential with a lumbering narrative that assumes that the viewer already knows what’s going on.

The film’s plot is set in the year 2274, in a dystopian future where the apparent remnants of humanity live in a domed metropolis run by a supercomputer, and nobody is allowed to live past thirty years of age. Everyone who turns 30 must go through a ritual called “Carousel”, in which they are vapourised and supposedly “renewed”. Those who refuse and try to flee are called “runners” and hunted down by elite policemen called “Sandmen”. The story at large focuses on one sandman named Logan, who meets a woman named Jessica and is sent on a mission in which he is forced to become a runner, and while doing so he discovers the terrible secret of the world he was raised in.

In theory, the central premise was quite promising, if only the film gave more of an explanation of what happened before all that came about. The way I see it, Logan’s Run was a pretty deep film, with its story ruminating on the dangers of putting so much of our faith in technology that everything is centrally managed by a supercomputer. It also explored the exaltation of libertinism, and presents a world that has caved into wanton sexual abandon to the point that the entire society is structured around facilitating a purely hedonistic society. Of course it had potential, but the narrative was simply underwhelming, and the film spends about a quarter of its two-hour runtime lumbering about.

The film’s general stylistic approach seems odd to me. In the first half it was better, with stunning futuristic visuals and cool electronic soundtrack, but in the second half, all of a sudden the film’s tone shifts to that of a more typical adventure film, complete with a cliché orchestral score. It is rather disappointing, considering that the producers had set up a futuristic setting, and yet they aren’t consistent in that approach. That perhaps may have been one of the film’s biggest weaknesses – a lack of a cohesive identity.

As for the characters, the performances don’t do much for me at all. The acting seems rather unconvincing, and it makes the characters seem quite silly, but then again, the whole film starts as a cold sci-fi film and then turns into a silly matinee feature. It may have interesting ideas, but they aren’t handled properly. Of course, it is still an interesting film, and it’s not totally bad, though there are more than a few things that desperately needed to be cleared up if the producers wanted us to take the film’s ideas seriously.

  • Score: 65%
  • Grade: C
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