Come for the set designs, stick around for the costumes, marvel at how the power of Farrah Fawcett’s feathered hairstyle is impervious to the passing of centuries, and do your best to ignore everything else. LOGAN’S RUN is never better than an okay, but is nonetheless so 1970s it is well worth a watch.
It is essentially a Doctor Who cave serial with a bigger budget. It’s got all the hallmarks of standard 70s sci-fi: fantastic miniature models, matte paintings, British actors, a bland lead, personality-quirked robots, cocaine-inspired sets, bad pacing, smart women who are objectified through skimpy clothing, a high concept that is better than the actual narrative, an old man hermit, an authoritarian government…as a film, it’s pretty blah, but as a cultural relic…it’s fascinating.
It’s still got that ’50s vibe where the idea is more important to the film than the story, but it’s dressed up in the ’70s idea of the future, and that’s pretty fantastic. The narrative organization is highly serialized – if this was a Doctor Who serial, you’d get two episodes in the main city, one for the escape, one for the underground factory, one for the ice, one for the journey to Sanctuary, one set in Sanctuary, and then one or two back to the city to wrap things up. It’s plodding and episodic and half the time my primary thought is, “Can someone please get Jenny Agutter some pants?”
Everyone is beautiful and young and has lots of random sex and then dies at 30. People who want to opt out run, but they all get killed – either by the cops, the rebels, or the ice robot. Survive long enough, and you run into Peter Ustinov and his thousand cats. As rewards go for escaping death…I can think of better outcomes. All in all, LOGAN’S RUN isn’t a great movie, or even a good movie, but I can totally understand if it’s someone’s favorite because of when it was made. The ’70s vibe is what I liked most about it. Had it been made a decade later, the only thing unchanged would be Farrah Fawcett’s hairstyle. It’d have starred Sly or Arnold or Tom Cruise or Eddie Murphy and everyone would be wearing Flock of Seagulls haircuts and dressing like Madonna. I’d likely have hated it.