“I’ve seen the future,” croons basso profundo Leonard Cohen in his song “The Future,” “and it is murder.” In countless movies, Cohen’s words have been eerily prescient. Fortunately, most of cinema’s predictions for calamity and apocalypse have been erroneous — fodder for good drama but with a crystal ball that’s cracked at best. In this month’s Matt Damon film, Elysium , the wealthiest of mankind live on space stations while the rest of Earth lies in ruins. We’ll have to wait until 2154 to see if that nightmare comes to pass. Meanwhile, we’ve composed a timeline of movies that predicted future bullets humanity has managed to dodge.
Police rule the world in 1984.
1968: 2001: A Space Odyssey
Sentient — and occasionally psychotic — computers run everything in 2001.
1981: Escape from New York
New York is converted into one giant, maximum-security prison in 1997.
1984: The Terminator
A robotic machine arrives from the future to wage war.
Police use time travel to prevent crime.
1995: Strange Days
In 1999, memories are recorded to discs and swapped like torrent files.
1995: 12 Monkeys
A virus wipes out half the world’s population.
1999: Bicentennial Man
Robots cook, clean and do yard work in the year 2005. (Actually, we wouldn’t mind if this one came to pass.)
2007: I Am Legend
A plague wipes out most of mankind, driving the survivors into a vampire-like existence in 2012.