Logan's Run

Logan's Run

***1/2

Reviewed by: Jennie Kermode

They say the old ones are the best and that certainly holds true for science fiction, which enjoyed its heyday in the Sixties and Seventies. Though Logan's Run hasn't aged well in every respect, its place in the genre canon is unmistakable and it has been widely influential, making it an important part of a rounded film education. It remains enjoyable, with an adventurous spirit at its core that will appeal to viewers of all ages.

This is not what one might expected based on the book. David Zelag Goodman's script extracts the core ideas from difficult source material and wisely sheds most of their trappings. We see a lot less of the world it's set in and lose the pre-teen sexuality which, in all its disturbing credibility, would terrify the average studio boss. What remains cuts to the chase. As chases go, it's gripping stuff.

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Logan 5 (Michael York) is a sandman. Living in the City, along with everyone else he's aware of, he has the special task of hunting down runners. Runners are those who, on their 30th birthdays, refuse to do the decent thing and sacrifice themselves on the ritual carousel so that there might be room in the City for the next generation. But the all-powerful computer suspects some are getting away, and sets our 26 year old hero on their tail by adjusting his own life-clock so he can run or die.

It's a great pitch, stagily executed. The artificiality of the City is appropriate enough, nicely enhanced by the primarily electronic score, but the sets could do with being a bit less shaky. Once we start to move through tunnels and ice caverns, this becomes an increasing problem. The special effects are crude and some of the action sequences badly edited. But the hamminess of much of the acting combines with this to give the film rather an endearing quality. From the encounter with camp but deadly robot Box to the spectacularly unlikely operating system crash at the end, the film is full of daft but unforgettable moments.

Cheesy though it may be, the acting matters. Both York and Jenny Agutter (as Jessica 6, the girl who runs with him) are charmingly effective as wide-eyed kids hopelessly adrift once they get outside their familiar environment. There's a poignant undercurrent of homoeroticism between Logan and former best friend Francis (Richard Jordan), the man sent to chase him, whose inability to comprehend a different way of living corresponds neatly with Logan's discovery of the concept of heterosexual monogamy. And then there's Peter Ustinov, having a whale of a time as the last survivor of an unknown catastrophe, surrounded by cats and the crumbling remains of a once great civilisation.

Logan's Run may never quite manage to say the deep things it wants to about age and mortality, but it has fun trying - and perhaps that's really the point.

Reviewed on: 17 Jun 2012
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Logan's Run packshot
In a society where no-one lives past 30, one man decides to run for his life.
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Director: Michael Anderson

Writer: David Zelag Goodman, based on the book by William F Nolan and George Clayton Johnson.

Starring: Michael York, Jenny Agutter, Richard Jordan, Peter Ustinov, Farrah Fawcett

Year: 1976

Runtime: 119 minutes

BBFC: 12 - Age Restricted

Country: US

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