Normally when the birthday cake makes its way to the table with 30 flaming candles on top, it’s a time of personal introspection. Thirty is a milestone birthday now because it’s a round number. But if the world goes according to “Logan’s Run,” in a couple hundred years we may be looking at an even bigger milestone at 30: death.
Riddled by war and an overabundance of humans, life on Earth has moved indoors and into a small domed biosphere. Life is all about unrepentant pleasure (read: lots of casual sex). But when the big three-o hits, it’s off to Carousel with you and a chance at Renewal, a modernist take on heaven. But even with a chance at coming back, some elect to run. Good thing too because otherwise Logan (Michael York) would be out of work. As one of the elitist Sandmen, Logan tracks runners and terminates them.
While investigating the links between runners, the system screws him over and takes away several of his remaining years. Now with only a few days to live, Logan becomes a runner himself. With the aid of the young and curvaceous Jessica (Jenny Agutter), the two head for the unknown world of Sanctuary, a time-stopped haven for successful runners. Only problem is, nobody knows if anyone’s ever made it to Sanctuary. Run, Logan, run.
From the opening shots and running through the rest of the movie, “Logan’s Run” is set in a period of cheesy special effects. Small-scale models, not normally very noticeable, are everywhere. Listen close enough and you might just hear Ed Wood’s voice in the background clamoring with glee. Many of the set designs are equally hokey, yet they have a distinctly 1970s style that’s both fun and gawdy at the same time. Note the year the film was released: 1976, a single year before Star Wars ripped up the galaxy with its groundbreaking effects. Sure, give director Michael Anderson and his art team some credit for being the first to implement the use of lasers and holograms in film, but if anything else “Logan’s Run” will make you appreciate Mr. Lucas’ achievements just that much more.
As a story, “Logan’s Run” works on a philosophical level with Logan in search of the truth. Does Renewal exist? Does Sanctuary exist? As he comes to find some answers, Logan is like a man in search of religion, or rather a person revolting against what appears to be natural knowledge. It takes questions to get answers. And as Logan and Jessica make their way through the city’s maze-like structures in an attempt to escape, they come up with plenty to ask. The world doesn’t make much sense. While the original novel by William F. Nolan and George Clayton Johnson goes more in depth into the issues, Anderson’s film adaptation still leaves plenty to ponder. And bonafide lasers and holograms, too. How can you go wrong with that?