REVIEW: “Logan”

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It could be argued that Hugh Jackman as Wolverine has been the best bit of superhero casting since this wave of comic book movies started in 2000. Not only does Jackman keenly capture the adamantium-clawed mutant’s look and personality, but he’s been incredibly committed to fleshing out the character through the good movies and even the rotten ones.

“Logan” is the tenth actual X-Men movie and the third Wolverine solo adventure behind 2009’s abysmal “X-Men Origins: Wolverine” and 2013’s surprisingly good “The Wolverine” directed by James Mangold. Mangold returns to direct “Logan” based on a story he began writing following the previous film. After some rather cryptic messaging it was confirmed that “Logan” would be Jackman’s final turn as Wolverine. The star worked closely in development even taking a pay cut to ensure an R-rating, something he and Mangold felt was imperative to the character’s final violent chapter.

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“Logan” could easily be categorized as a superhero western and the influences are everywhere. “Shane” and “Unforgiven” instantly came to mind and readers of the original “Old Man Logan” comic book series will see a handful of similarities.

The film is set in 2029 and there have been no new mutants in 25 years. Logan has been off the grid, making money as a limo driver in El Paso, Texas. He has aged and his body is showing it. The claws don’t pop like they used to, his eye sight is failing, and his healing factor isn’t as effective. Essentially the adamantium inside of him is taking its toll.

He uses the money he makes to take care of his old friend and mentor Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart) who is kept hidden in an old dilapidated factory just across the US/Mexico border. The ailing Charles is suffering from a form of Alzheimer’s which causes devastating psychic seizures if left unmedicated. Caliban (Stephen Merchant), an albino mutant tracker, helps as a caretaker for Charles while Logan is away.

While on the job Logan is approached by a woman beseeching him to take 11 year-old Laura (a fabulous Dafne Keen) away. She tells him of Transigen, an illegal bioengineering lab doing mutant experiments on children. Laura is one of many children set free by nurses but now being tracked for extermination by Transigen. Logan wants no part of it but when events bring Laura and her trackers to his hideout in Mexico a violent exchange ensues and he sees first-hand why Laura is so ‘special’. With Xavier’s prodding they take off with Laura, Transigen not far behind.

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“Logan” is an interesting stew. Fans of the character will find plenty to like as he is let off the proverbial leash in terms of violence. The feral nature of it is fitting in most cases, but there are times when the movie seems to be saying “Look, we’re doing an R-Rated Wolverine picture.” And I would be lying if I didn’t mention a conflict in the handling of the violence. There is an interesting theme on the nature of violence that runs throughout the film. Logan wants no part of it. He tries to abstain from it. His body is breaking down because of it. He’s shown to be mentally scarred from it. He warns Laura away from it even saying “Don’t be what they made you to be.” But while offering this compelling angle on violence, the movie sometimes relishes in its depiction of it. It’s not a big problem but it does mute the film’s message a bit.

You could say “Logan” becomes a road trip movie and along the way we learn that this isn’t a traditional superhero tale. It isn’t as profoundly fresh as its press would lead you to believe, but it does tell a good story. There are no punchy jokes or one-liners. There are no colorful, larger than life characters. Mangold’s tone remains intensely serious and his characters are broken and struggling. Laura represents a glimmer of life – a reminder to Logan and Charles of what they once fought for. It’s an interesting take on the genre. And then there is Jackman who has played Wolverine for 17 years. His passion for the character is undeniable and he ends his run in a fitting and satisfying way. And Mangold’s final shot – it couldn’t be a more perfect ending.

VERDICT – 3.5 STARS

3-5-stars

16 thoughts on “REVIEW: “Logan”

  1. I think we took the same things away from Logan. The violence was both compelling and a distraction. In the first encounter where Logan confronts attackers outside his taxi limo you get that first heavy wallop and it is impressive. It caught me off guard. Then it just kind of becomes “hey, look what we are able to get away with with an R rating now.” At the time it seemed to me as if the bone-crunching action was what got the film such high praise. I’m still somewhat convinced thats all it was. I remember there are some really deep emotional troughs here and there — Patrick Stewart’s role here is heartbreaking, as is Jackman’s — but overall I still felt detached. Maybe this was just the ultimate test of my fandom. Maybe I am just not that much of an X-Men fan.

    • I hear ya. There are some really good moments. Logan carrying a helpless Xavier up the stairs and to bed. Some pretty poignant imagery there. But there are other moments that aren’t that effective. The entire farm family angle seemed a bit pointless. I won’t spoil anything but it did allow for more r-rated bloodspilling.

  2. I loved this film as I think it’s the best film of the X-Men series so far though I doubt it will be topped. It does play into this sense of an end coming as well as the sense of hope that Logan often struggles with as he always feel he hurts those he loved and is wracked with guilt in saving them. Its ending is heartbreaking but also hopeful as I hope no one plays the Wolverine for a long time.

    • While I have liked several X-Men movies I can’t say I’ve have my mind blown by any Of them. This one was no different. It’s among those I like, but not the amazing movie reaction many seemed to have.

  3. I’m one of the ones tirelessly singing its praises. For me, it’s on the short list of the best superhero movies ever made. The performances of and chemistry between Hugh Jackman and Patrick Stewart. The violence is also a draw, love what you say about it, but the writing is a bigger one. The very-western, tired old gunslinger aspect of the film really clicked with me.

    • It definitely resonated with a bigger crowd that I expected. I agree on the chemistry between Jackman and Stewart. Such a perfect fit not only for their individual characters but for the needed relationship between them.

  4. I watched the Noir version of Logan recently (Which I recommend highly) and thought it was even better the second time round. I really think it is one of the best superhero films in recent years. Although, in a film that’s so serious Hugh Jackman fighting himself is a bit ridiculous in my opinion.

  5. Hugh Jackman owns this role and I agree the story is taken seriously. There are things at stake in Logan, though I thought the violence was a bit much. Prefer other entries in the series.

  6. Though I’m huge X-Men fan, I’ve always felt the movies never could quite manage to capture the aura of the comic (be it the sociopolitical context or complexities of the supporting characters). That being said, I loved Logan; it works really well as a neowestern, and the way Mangold juggles the relationship between Logan and Charles Xavier is magnificent.

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