Logan's Run

In light of Kevin Levine, creator of ‘Bioshock’, writing the script to the much talked about ‘Logan’s Run’ remake, I thought this would be a perfect time to talk about the original movie for Throwback Thursday, ScienceFiction.com’s ongoing column dedicated to the great sci-fi of the past.

I’ll never forget the first time I saw ‘Logan’s Run’, though sadly it was because I didn’t want to see it. After all, who wants to see an old sci-fi from 1976 when we have the special effects of ‘Avatar‘?

The answer I had was unequivocally “not me!”. Of course, I was wrong. So wrong that even now I’m a little embarrassed that I was so against seeing it. When I say that ‘Logan’s Run’ is really, and truly great sci-fi, I want you to believe me when I say it.

Based off a fantastic and fast-paced book of the same name, ‘Logan’s Run’ takes place in a society where people only live until the age of 30. The society is sorted by colors that indicate how close you are to your death, and everyone has a stone implanted in their hand called a “Life Clock”. When your hand starts to blink red, it means it’s your last day and you go to the Carousel to be “renewed”, which is supposed to reincarnate you, though really this idea was more of an opiate for the masses than the actual truth.

Now, this may sort of sound like the Justin Timberlake movie, ‘In Time’, but the difference is that in ‘Logan’s Run’ you have to turn yourself in to die when your time is up as opposed to just dying wherever you happen to be. Also, ‘Logan’s Run’ is really, really good.

So enter the eponymous Logan, a Sandman whose job it is to find runners (people who don’t go to the Carousel to be renewed) and execute them. When he becomes a runner himself, the movie turns from a just a mind-bender to a sci-fi legend that half reminds me of the great epic fantasy novels that spanned continents. We follow Logan as he tries to escape his former coworker and discover the new world around him as he goes from one fantastical place to another looking for the mythical “Sanctuary”, a place where runners would go to grow old. There, on the outside, he struggles to understand the numbers on gravestones and the wrinkles on an old man’s face.

Truth be told, ‘Logan’s Run’ is old, and its age shows. The acting and the editing were definitely of the 70s standard with the special effects mostly looking like strategically placed fireworks, actors on wires, and miniature sets of futuristic cities.  Still, it has incredible imagery, so much so, that I dread to see the remake. The hyper reality of CG often makes it feel less real to me, and I honestly think very little can compare to  graphics like this:

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Logan and Jessica look upon Lincoln’s face and wonder if that it what old looks like.

Another example is the Renewal scene at the Carousel. Even with it’s low quality special effects. There is something eerie about the way the people ritually greet their deaths to the applause of everyone around them. Masked in something reminiscent of a skull, those who are to be “renewed” fly about in a circle as they are decimated one by one in a shock of sparks and light. I half dread, half look forward to what the remake will come up with to rival this original concept.

Logan's Run

Unfortunately, the screenshot does not do the scene justice, because, really, ‘Logan’s Run’ has the kind of beauty that moves, and moves it does. From one unearthly place to another, ‘Logan’s Run’ is able to be the thinking man’s sci-fi action movie, something we see too little of these days.

As for the remake, I can only hope that it meets my lofty expectations. However, it would be more interesting to me if this new ‘Logan’s Run’ was a bit more like the William F. Nolan & George Clayton Johnson book, which takes place on a far grander scale, complicated by whole cadres of well-thought out social groups that push and pull against one another as well as Logan and his companion, Jess. The chase always pushes the plot in the book, but the real meat of the story is in the history of the world and the emotions of the characters. I can only hope that the new movie will have this added depth.

Oh, and Michael York (the original Logan, though some of you may know him better as Basil Exposition in the ‘Austin Powers’ movies) better have a cameo.

Michael York Logan's Run

Really, ‘Logan’s Run’ deserves all the acclaim it gets, and if you haven’t seen it, you need to check it out as soon as possible. If you have seen it, perhaps you’d like to watch it again. It’s never dull, no matter how many times you watch it. It’s fun, thrilling, sexy (though sometimes gratuitously so), and asks questions that are still relevant to life today.