Film * Michael Anderson * Utopia? More Like a Dys…Wait * 1976
Next up in the endless list of classic films that I have managed to have never seen until now, we have Logan’s Run. Like pretty much every important movie that I’ve never bothered to watch, many things I do like reference this film! The fact that a thing is influential does not guarantee that said thing withstands the test of time, however. Sometimes, like we saw with Dr. Strangelove, shit holds up. This one gets a pretty resounding ‘meh’ out of me. Logan’s Run clearly owes a few things to Aldous Huxley via Brave New World, so that’s cool, but there are some serious 1970’s pacing issues that turn a two hour movie into something that feels twice as long. I don’t know. I like the part with the cats.
I will admit to liking movies that begin with a short text synopsis of the state of the world. In this instance, we are informed that there was an unspecified cataclysmic event that wiped out most of the people on Earth. Well, the United States anyway but same difference right? Eh? Rest of the world are you with me? No? Anyway, humanity has survived, like it do, but civilization in particular has also survived, after a fashion. The world of Logan’s Run is a sealed society, located entirely within a giant dome. All needs are automatically catered to, although nobody really knows how or why or who set the system up to begin with. Nor do they care, because they’re too busy wandering aimlessly around in their flowing 70s robes and fucking. This is a pleasure-oriented society, although it’s pretty clear that most of the pleasure is derived from sex and the 70s equivalent of Crossfit and not decadent food because everyone is fit and hot.
So far, so good, at least for the citizens with a healthy sex drive. Like Brave New World, there is no concept of a family unit. Babies are born in a communal, artificial fashion and nobody has a mother or father, nor is there a concept of marriage or domestic partnering. The place seems gay-friendly, though, although I’m not sure if the film is presenting this as a good thing or an example of the amoral decadence exemplified by this society. Probably the latter. Anyway, since everyone is having such a good time, nobody seems to mind the lack of traditional family structures. Really, the only downside is that when people turn thirty, they are killed. You know, to make room for a new baby. One out, one in. Besides, who wants to make love to a gross over-thirty anyway? Barf.
As you might imagine, not everyone thinks getting aboard the croak-boat at thirty is a fun and cool thing to do. Now, the society has a mechanism to deal with this, a weird Cirque du Soleil-ass ritual called “carousal” in which olds dress up like druids, levitate, zip around, and explode. The idea is that they reincarnate, I guess. It’s a big spectacle, and is pretty much the only form of entertainment aside from going the “arcade” for some of that sweet sweet skeeball. Still, those that are definitely not cool with flying and exploding try and run. This is frowned upon. A group of cops called “Sandmen” are in charge of stopping runners from getting away. They are terminated on sight. Logan is one of these Sandmen, and while he’s mildly curious about the state of the world, he sure does seem to enjoy his job of hunting the most dangerous game of all: scared soft people in flowing robes and sandals with no survival skills.
Logan is not an appealing protagonist. He’s not really supposed to be, at least not at first, but his entire personality is kind of shit. Cocky, arrogant, total lack of self-awareness, that kind of thing. To his credit, he does ask questions. Even while hunting dudes for sport, he eventually gets around to questioning the practice of carousel and running and whatnot. Then he meets the enigmatic Jessica, who we totally know is deep and different because she wears an ankh like that unapproachably hot goth chick (or dude!) that you spent an inordinate amount of time thinking about in high school. Jessica is not a goth, alas, but she also has self-worth and a fucking backbone. Her first interaction with Logan is to tell him to turn his horny down a notch. To Logan’s credit, he respects her right of consent. In fact, the whole society is based on this notion of mutual consent, so points for that. Anyway, Jessica is also a possible key to this society’s underground, which is called Sanctuary. This is the crux of the plot.
Shortly after all our principal characters are introduced, Logan is called to sit in the weird central computer hive-mind of this society. It is very analogue and 70s. He is instructed to infiltrate Sanctuary and eliminate it. Logan does not seem all that stoked to get this assignment. Still, he’s a creature of his environment so he despite his well-founded concerns for his own life, he exploits his acquaintance with Jessica in an attempt to get her to help him find Sanctuary. From this point, a good chunk of the movie is Logan and Jessica running through a shopping mall together to avoid being lasered by Sandmen. It’s hard to keep tabs on Logan’s frame of mind throughout. Is he sincere in his desire to undermine society? Or is he coldly using Jessica to carry out his mission and murder all her friends? He absolutely leads a bunch of Sandmen to where he thinks Sanctuary is, but he continues to run. That he eventually brings the system down is one thing, but it’s hard to pinpoint just where his allegiance to his old society ends.
Just when you think the movie is over, because so far is has felt about four hours long, there’s a whole final act to get through. So far, the Brave New World feeling is hard to shake. Obviously there are stark differences. The world of Logan’s Run is entirely self-contained while Brave New World encompasses the entire planet. Still, the idea behind both works are similar, which is to say that human individuality will eventually topple even the most sophisticated social systems. That’s pretty much civil entropy, but presented in a good way. Or, if you prefer, the chaos theory as espoused by Jurassic Park’s Ian Malcom. Once Logan and Jessica escape to the abandoned edges of their sealed society, they meet a scary robot who is clearly turning people into food (no, I have not seen Soylent Green, it’s on the same list as this movie was). It’s also clear that Logan and Jessica are the first to escape its clutches and get outside.
Logan and Jessica escaping are the beginning of the end, they are life finding a way like a couple of beautiful 70s velociraptors. Once outside, we discover that the dome is adjacent to California/Washington D.C. (turns out most of the interior mall shots were done in Dallas, which checks out) and nature has reclaimed the capital. Honestly, I’m a sucker for vine-covered civilization so I’m into it. Anyway, our increasingly love-struck couple meets a real old man and his forty cats (my own cat was extremely into this scene, to the point where he jumped up in front of the TV and started meowing at it). Eventually Logan and Jessica, who have rediscovered traditional family values, return to their dome with their new old-man pet. They’re immediately captured. However, confusion reigns and Logan escapes and blows everything all the way the fuck up. The masses fawn over the old man. All is well. I mean, except for the fact that not a single one of these people have the ability to last more than a few hours in the wild. Oh well!