Sigh. The poster for Logan’s Run looks pretty good. Michael York has a good Han Solo look, blaster in his hand. Jenny Agutter has a Carrie Fisher look too, and there’s deadly robots and the promise of action at more than walking pace. But Logan’s Run was a disappointment to those seeking sci-fi action in 1976, and despite considerable efforts by this critics to put lipstick on this particular pig, Michael Anderson’s film is pretty stodgy fare.
The first problem is that this really isn’t for kids; based on a novel by William F Noland and George Clayton Johnson, Logan’s Run belongs to the dystopian strand that featured Planet of the Apes, The Omega Man, Soylent Green and more worried looks into an uncertain future. After the teenage revolt of the late sixties and early 70’s, we imagine a future in which the yoof rule, and anyone older than 30 faces certain death on the mystical Carousel. Logan (York) is a Sandman, a cop with a responsibility for hunting down runners, those who refuse to accept their time is up and leg it towards Sanctuary, a semi-mythical destination point that turns out to be a weed-encrusted Washington DC inhabited by waffle-merchant Peter Ustinov and a lot of smelly-looking cats.
Yup, if the last twenty minutes of Star Wars was not an assault on the Death Star, but a long scene of Peter Ustinov reading from TS Eliot’s poems about cats, would we still love it? Logan’s Run was meant to pay off with the jaw-dropping sight of the world’s first person/hologram, but the underwhelming sight of this on a tv screen is a complete let-down. Otherwise, there’s a unhealthy obsession with sex; Logan and his gal undress to pose for killer robot Box (Roscoe Lee Browne) only to get dressed immediately; the key scene here is cut. And a whole orgy sequence was shot but is omitted, probably the right move.
Credit Star Wars for putting the fun and derring-do back into adventure cinema; Logan’s Run reeks of adult ideas, ugly knee-jerk politics, and semi-serious lectures about the direction of the human race. Some of the production design looks sleek, but the film’s second half, dull and preachy, would send children of all ages to sleep. Interesting to hardcore sci-fi fans and cultural historians, Logan’s Run is all dressed-up with nowhere to go; fortunately it proved to be the last gasp of the hell-in-a-hand-basket warnings about the future.