HA HA HA HA HA HA HA! Oh, the '70s! Did PG mean anything to you? Holy crow, this movie exploits women and just is shrouded in nudity! Just, like, every time they got a chance, a lady would be naked. Pee. Gee. I can't believe it. I normally put PG movies in green. Not this time. Full on red.
DIRECTOR: Michael Anderson
I don't understand '70s sci-fi. I have a theory, and I'm sure that it isn't even mine, that say that films that involve the future are just extreme versions of what the present is all about it. It's why Marty can visit the Cafe '80s and the Enterprise now looks like the inside of an Apple store. While most of these sci-fi utopias or dystopias are kind of silly sometimes, there is no sillier version of the future than what the 1970s presented. I'm not saying The Day the Earth Stood Still got aliens right, but I can pretend. I have THX-1138 on my DVR as well and I am just going to laugh at the goofy version of that future. Logan's Run might be the silliest treatment of the future that I've watched for a while. And that's more than the fact that the future just looks like the interior of a mall.
I talked about this before, but science-fiction, especially when dealing with a dystopia, is meant to be allegorical. It is meant to wake us up to our failures so that we do something about it. I mostly like science fiction because it is meant to make me think and challenge norms around me. Logan's Run works on a very cool premise, but that premise doesn't really bring me to arms. In fact, it kind of just leaves me confused. I wish I could say that it was because "It left me open to possibilities." No, more along the lines of "Why was that there?" and "Are we not going to address this moment again?" This seems silly that I'm summarizing the plot of Logan's Run, but I know that a readership under a certain age will never have heard of this movie. The premise, although vague, is kind of cool. This a dyssstooooopppppiiiiaaa (I know, we've been overwhelmed with dystopias lately). In this dystopia, a computer is in charge of everything. At birth, individuals are given a disc on their hands that changes color the closer they get to age 30. At thirty, they are eligible for "rebirth", which is just a killing. No one lives over 30. Why? That's a little vague, but I have to assume it has something to do with overpopulation. Some people have figured out that this is just a death sentence and they run. (Hey! That's part of the title.) The police force that kills runners are known as Sandmen. (Now I'm lost. Do I not get the allusion?) Michael York, who is genuinely terrible in this role, is a Sandman tasked by the computer to hunt down the escaped runners and report back. To let him go undercover, his disc is changed to blinking red, indicating he is ready for rebirth. He actually runs. Loose plot ensues.
What am I supposed to take away from this? The best message I can take away from this is that the government is keeping me complacent and that I'm being systematically herded to my death because I believe in societal norms. Tell me something I don't know, Logan's Run. It seems like this is a big important message, but I didn't see anything that life changing in it. The movie gets really preachy about fighting the system, but I'm not really sure how I'm supposed to do that. Am I supposed to be finding old people, preferably those with a lot of cats and hiding in national monuments? I can do that, but I think that message is a bit on the nose. At best, I can try to abandon creature comforts and move outdoors so I can truly be free. That might be a message, but that idea kind of seems secondary in Logan's Run. I know that science fiction has value and I won't even deny that this one is a thinker, but it isn't exactly polished. (On a side note, I find it hilarious that there was apparently a Logan's Run comic book by Marvel Comics expanding the story of the film. That ending is pretty definite. Issue six stresses how he has to run...again!) There are so many moments in the movie that really just add to the weird aesthetics of the future of the '70s. There is this whole sequence when Logan finds the previous runners and it really doesn't explain what happened to them. Similarly, the entire objective of the computer is just left unexplained. It seems like the computer has this secret agenda, but it is never really addressed what that agenda might be or why it is manipulating events the way it does. I will say that the interrogation (or whatever goofy term they used to call it) scene was kind of fun, but again, it just seems like a plot device that wasn't really tied up.
I mentioned this earlier, but I had no idea that Michael York was that terrible of an actor. Science fiction has to be the hardest genre to work in. So much is left up to the imagination and risking looking silly that I can't blame too many actors for being rough. I --and I'm ashamed to say this --only knew Michael York from the Austin Powers movies. I'm sure that I've seen him in other things, but golly, I thought that was a character he was doing. Nope. Logan and whatever his name from Austin Powers is the same performance and that does not work here. Jenny Agutter, in contrast, is so much better. But this is the exploitative '70s! There were way too many excuses to get her naked or in something skinny. I felt bad for her at one point. There was this moment where Logan says that they both have to get naked or else they would freeze. (Yup.) He just takes his shirt off. Yeah, if that's how it is going to be played, let's not pretend that this scene was vital for the film. I mean, York does fine in the action scenes, but even that is probably a stunt double. Jenny Agutter really does the emotional stuff. I'm not saying that there's a Daytime Emmy in it for her, but her character really at least has emotional arcs. She isn't one character. She is this confident rebel and terrified at the same time. (Sorry about the lack of parallelism, but I just don't care.) Some people might complain about her hysterics, but the scenes kind of called for them. Her character is fairly likable.
The odd thing that I was surprised that the movie didn't give more weight to is the fact that Logan is a killer. There are a couple of brief conversations about the evil things that Logan has done in service of the Sandmen, but he never really has that redemptive arc. Rather, Jessica kind of just forgives him knowing that he didn't know better. But he definitely has a bit of a lightswitch moment. I kept waiting for the other shoe to drop for Logan. I thought that he would betray Jessica just to rescue her last second. None of that. The second he goes undercover as a runner, he actually becomes a runner. It's an odd choice. Also, I'm very confused why other runners never got as far as he did. It's not like I felt like these runners would have been any more adept at running than the scores of runners who proceeded them. This is all whiny at this point, but it is kind of commentary on how science fiction was viewed before Star Wars. There are so many moments where it just felt like the writer and director just wrote off plotholes, knowing that there was no perfect science fiction films. I sound so whiny, but these things were important to me.
I have a theory that the modern classic is starting to die out. No one really knows about Logan's Run anymore. But I don't know if Logan's Run really deserves to be a classic. I was thinking of the movie Dark Star. Bee-tee-dubs, I kind of like Logan's Run in a really weird way. It's science fiction and it's kind of subversive. But I think I actually like Dark Star. But this generation really won't hear references to either of these works outside of Family Guy, and even Family Guy is starting to fade. Should I be standing up to fight for these movies? Is it okay that they are kind of just fading into the background of pop culture consciousness? There's a really weird part of me that appreciates that I have a reference that no one will really get. But is that necessarily redeeming in the long run. The only way that Logan's Run can be culturally relevant again is through a reboot. I hear that there has been a reboot teased around for the past few years. But Logan's Run is problematic. It is almost exclusively defined by the era of its origin. I don't know that it really worked in the '70s, but probably the only redeeming thing about this movie is that it came from the '70s. Heck, I had to write "The '70s" far too many times for this review even to have any weight. I'm not saying that all science fiction from this era is disposable, but Logan's Run might be the most telling movie of its era. I want to like it more, but it is just too cornball.
Oh yeah, Farah Fawcett was in the movie. She's more than an extra, but not much more. And a guy is super killed by lasers. Lasers are groovy.
Film is great. It can challenge us. It can entertain us. It can puzzle us. It can awaken us.
Mr. H has watched an upsetting amount of movies. They bring him a level of joy that few things have achieved.