For many fantasy fans of a certain Gen-X vintage, Logan’s Run is the most beloved sci-fi film of the ’70s—with the notable exception of a certain George Lucas-directed blockbuster. Featuring a terrific premise, exciting action sequences, memorable production design, and a musical score filled with far-out electronic sounds, Logan’s Run has an intoxicating vibe. So even though the cheese factor is high, thanks to questionable special-effects miniatures and a generally dated aesthetic, the picture still works as stylish escapism.
Based on a novel by George Clayton Johnson and William F. Nolan, the story introduces a 23rd-century society comprising a series of interconnected domes that contain climate-controlled luxury environments. By day, the society’s gorgeous young citizens perform easy jobs aided by pervasive technology. By night, they engage in culturally acceptable hedonism, trading sexual favors without emotional hang-ups. The only catch is that when each citizen reaches the age of 30, he or she must enter a violent arena called the Carousel, in which strivers who fail to reach the prize of “renewal” die on the spot.
The citizens are so narcotized by their easy lives that no one questions their built-in expiration dates except “runners,” rebels who flee the domes to join a secret underground. Logan-5 (Michael York) is a “sandman,” a gun-toting cop employed by the city’s computerized overlords to hunt and kill runners as a means of maintaining order. When Logan discovers a clue about the runners’ hidden citadel, Sanctuary, his lifespan is abruptly abbreviated so he can go undercover as a runner—a harsh move that eventually turns Logan against his former superiors.
Logan’s Run is filled with imaginative details, like the high-tech “New You” plastic-surgery salon that predicts laser-guided medical procedures (and features a sexy Farrah Fawcett-Majors as a receptionist). York and leading lady Jenny Agutter, who plays Logan’s fellow runner, make an attractive couple, their posh English accents lending the film a certain elegance, and Richard Jordan is frighteningly impassioned as Logan’s friend-turned-pursuer. Yet it’s the visuals that impress the most, because the filmmakers ingeniously converted a modernist shopping mall into the interior of the domed city, then created similarly vivid environments for the Carousel, the den of a group of animalistic street urchins called “cubs,” and even the ice-covered cavern of an overbearing robot called Box.
Like a great old Jules Verne yarn, Logan’s Run is a fast-moving adventure that introduces one wild situation after another, and the whole story is anchored by Logan’s relatable journey from conformist to anarchist. Logan’s Run may be silly and stilted, but it’s also a great ride with a handful of resonant ideas thrown in for good measure. FYI, small-screen hunk Gregory Harrison slipped on the sandman spandex for a short-lived series adaptation, also called Logan's Run, which ran on CBS for most of the 1977-1978 season.
Logan’s Run: GROOVY