Logan (2017) Movie Review

Introduction

Well, this is it. It’s been quite the 17 year run with you, Mr. Jackman. For every great X-Men movie, and for every not so great X-Men movie, you’ve embodied Wolverine better than anybody could have asked for. Nobody had faith in the little known Australian actor to play the ferocious, animalistic superhero portrayed in the comics. Oh, how the times have changed. Now nobody wants anybody else to play Logan, including me. I figured your final appearance as Wolverine had to go out with a bang. At the very least, I hoped for a fitting eulogy for your character or maybe a movie that eschews traditional character and story in place of a bloody, violent mess. I’ve loved the X-Men films for many years and things seemed promising that we’d at least be getting one final Wolverine performance. I am very proud to announce that we received a film that’s the perfect amalgamation of all three of those things, plus surprising but welcome emotional depth that only serves to pack an extra punch on top of an already crazy thrill ride. This is Logan. 

The Story

I will spend as little time on the story as possible. The year is 2029. There are barely any mutants left, with the last being born more than 15 years ago. Logan is old. He’s broken down. He doesn’t heal as quickly or efficiently. On top of that, he looks after a very old Charles Xavier, who’s having health problems on his own. These two and others and struggling to get by and live in a world without mutants. Their main goal is to live our the remainder of their lives for as long as possible.

Their pathetic existence takes a complete 180 after they encounter a young girl with very special powers. There are dangerous people after her and Charles, and the movie becomes a cat and mouse game as the three hunted go on the run from their hunters. This unexpected journey will serve as a period of growth for everyone involved, growth which they never believed they would experience again.

That’s the basic gist of the film. No spoilers or reveals at all. I would highly encourage everyone to go out and see this film because it is quite fantastic. Director James Mangold has successfully ended the Wolverine saga on a strong and potent note. Let’s discuss what makes this film so incredible.

Subjective Praises/Analysis

Logan  is an unconventional superhero movie in the sense that it is a character study. Not just of Logan himself, but all of the parties involved. We see that Logan and Charles are broken down and despondent.  We aren’t used to seeing these powerful, badass mutants so frail and helpless. As painful as it was to watch, I strongly respected the film’s decision to portray them as such. We were able to get a glimpse into the flip side of superheros. What would they be doing if they couldn’t be hero anymore? Who would be their hero?

Well, to answer that question, nobody. Only themselves, really. Mutants are virtually extinct at this point. Logan works as a limo driver and pawns drugs for Charles. Then the duo are forced to help another one like them in need. Logan is skeptic. Of course, Logan has always been characterized as the gruff, anti-social mutant who would usually prefer to stay out of things. Now, he’s too broken to do much. His portrayal in this film is very human (aside from the superhero stuff still in him). The emotional depth he exudes, both verbally and non, were a warm welcome into the Wolverine saga. By the end of the film, I felt myself almost moved to tears. NEVER before had any Marvel or DC film brought me to tears. With that, I can praise this film for its grasp of tone and character development. Everyone’s character arc felt emotionally satisfying and nuanced.

Before I move onto another point, I really need to talk about the R rating. I knew going into the movie that it would be R and that it would be gritty. I certainly was not expecting Saw levels of gore and violence. Even for a standalone Wolverine movie, I felt that they would have gone easy with the violence in fear of alienating potential audience members. NOPE. This movie is relentless. Blood spurts out of people like a fountain. The action scenes do not hold back whatsoever. Decapitated body parts, horrifying wounds, you name it. One scene in particular literally made me jump in my seat like a horror film due to its unexpected gore. I could not be happier with the way the action scenes were filmed and executed. The decision to be relentless was the best possible decision they could have made. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not obsessed or fascinated by extreme violence. Violence in film is detrimental to the context of the film, and vice versa. With Logan, it was a necessary evil, if anything. It’s the level of action Wolverine has deserved since the very first X-Men. Action scenes were well choreographed and filmed. I was on the edge of my seat as the action set pieces unfolded in front of me. Even the young actress playing the mutant girl was excellent with her fight scenes. She embraces the role like any other adult would. Her and Hugh Jackman made an excellent team. Even as he nears age 50, he’s still got it.

You may have heard through the grapevine how different Logan is compared to other Marvel films in terms of tone. The trailers depict a sort of rugged, desert setting. Most of you would be fairly accurate. There is a huge influence on this film by the Western genre, and though I’m not the biggest fan of the Western, in the case of Logan, the gritty feeling really gave the film a big boost. The violence was brutal and uncompromising, similar to some Westerns. Characters spent long periods of time traveling through harsh desert terrains in order to reach their destination.

Setting aside Western parallels, I would compare the tone of Logan being similar to Watchmen (another superhero film I love and will talk about one day). Both films I would describe as bleak and hopeless. Superheros are no more and are forced into hiding to avoid capture. Both films are focused on discovering the characters and following them on their reluctant paths to become heroes again.

So to be honest, Logan is not a completely bleak and hopeless film. There are actually quite a few moments of humor and levity in the film. Not in the laugh out loud kind of way, but more quips and tongue in cheek kind of way. Think something like The Dark Knight. That’s a very serious, dark & gritty film. There are still moments where characters drop sarcastic or chuckle worthy lines. The same can be said for Logan. I found this especially prevalent with Charles. Aside from getting used to him dropping F-bombs and S-bombs, Charles seems to have a pretty good sense of humor considered everything going on around him. The film isn’t afraid to provide you with a little bit of levity as a reminder of the humanity still present.

Objective Praises/Criticisms

Now that I’m done explaining what I enjoyed about the movie on a deeper than surface level, let’s get into what the movie did right and what the movie didn’t do as well. First things first, the acting. Hugh Jackman AND Patrick Steward are both equally excellent, in my opinion. Jackman’s years of playing the character certainly played a role in portrayed Logan at an old, grizzled age. Patrick Stewart definitely surprised me with his balance of sadness, humor, and caring attitude towards Logan and the girl. Speaking of which, you have to admit it takes a lot of talent to portray a young girl who rarely speaks but still has to convey emotion. Props to Dafne Keen as Laura for her impressive work. Although I mentioned it earlier, her performance during action scenes were definitely one of the best parts of the film.

I do have some complaints about the film. The first 15 minutes or so kind of dragged on for me. Luckily things get started quickly so I put it out of my head. There are certain scenes of lazy exposition that I can’t help but feel could have been done in a better way. There were a few ex-machine moments that seemed more unrealistic as the film progressed. I realize superhero movies tend to follow that formula, so I won’t be too harsh on it.

Conclusion

Some people are calling this the best X-Men movie to date. For me, it comes in at a  pretty close second. Days of Future Past still holds the top spot for sure. I would have to keep thinking about this though. For a movie to pump me up with its action, make me think with its characters, and make me cry with its relationships, I won’t deny this film will hold a special place in my heart as far as superhero movies go. Hats off to you, James Mangold. This is one of Marvel’s best outings to date. You had a good run, Wolverine. I can’t wait to see what the rest of the X-Men universe has in store.

Rating: 8.8/10

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