He Still Has Time
Logan is the latest film in 20th Century Fox’s X-Men Universe. It is a superhero drama with elements of an action western, directed by James Mangold and starring Hugh Jackman, Sir Patrick Stewart and newcomer Dafne Keen. Logan takes place some 10-plus years in the future, where mutants are nearly extinct save a few surviving souls, and where an older, weakened Logan (a.k.a. the Wolverine, played by Jackman) cares for the Alzheimer’s-stricken Charles Xavier (Stewart). When a little girl named Laura (Keen) unexpectedly shows up on Logan’s doorstep, danger soon follows, forcing Logan to escape his home. What follows is a hunt for Logan and Laura by the inherently evil Transigen company, as Logan attempts to transport Laura to safety across the border in North Dakota.
Having played the iconic X-Men character for two decades, Logan marks the last film in which Hugh Jackman plays Wolverine (or so he says). It is thus understandable that fans of the temporally-confusing franchise would regard the film as probably the saddest yet most crucial X-Men film to date, centred on the farewell of X-Men’s most celebrated actor. While X-Men: Days of Future Past is arguably the franchise’s most important film plot-wise, it is Logan for which fans would have the most sentimental value attached. With the booming success of 2016’s Deadpool, Logan is also Fox’s second foray into the R-rated superhero movie category (‘15’ in the UK), which is itself a risk, but one that many fans are hoping will pay off in the best way possible. Will the world’s most famous mutant send fans into a berserker rage of excitement?
It’s safe to say that Logan is unlike any other superhero movie I have ever seen, in that it really doesn’t have the fast-paced bravado of a conventional Marvel production, nor does it have the dark, stylistic elements of the DC Extended Universe. One could say that Logan stands alone even amongst the X-Men films, as the descriptions of ‘western’, ‘slow-burn’ and ‘road-trip movie’ are all true to a certain extent. With all that out of the way, Logan is an incredible film, representing what is probably Hugh Jackman’s best performance as Logan, while simultaneously giving us an explosive introduction to Dafne Keen’s Laura, who, if you haven’t seen the trailers, is more than meets the eye. The story is simple, as it’s the characters that fill the essence of the film from start to end. Fans will be excited to know that Logan is an exceptionally-made movie with strong characters, a unique pacing and an almost perfect way to cap off Jackman’s successful superhero career, making it all the more difficult to accept the hanging up of his claws. Any lovers of film should give this film a shot, even if they’re not fans of the comic book movie genre. Conversely, fans of superhero showdowns should know that Logan is a very different, singular experience that should not be seen as a regular superhero film, but as a legitimate film in general.
Very Much Like You
Drawing inspiration from several X-Men comic storylines including that of Old Man Logan, Logan is not about the titular character’s origin, nor the teaming up of several well-known costumes. Rather, the Wolverine we see is old, vulnerable and lost as his healing factor is losing its effect. Here we see scars both physical and mental affecting the once mighty, ferocious hero, as Logan’s life is almost devoid of purpose until meeting Laura. It is this background that provides the much appreciated depth of Logan’s character not seen in most superhero flicks. Sir Patrick Stewart should also deserve accolades for his portrayal of a frail, mentally unstable Professor X, also the best performance we have seen from Sir Patrick in the franchise. And what a bold, confident performance from Dafne Keen we’re given, as she makes an impact without saying any lines for the majority of the 137-minute runtime. Her body language and eye movements are authentic, showing her transcendent commitment to her role, locking the audience in with her incredible portrayal of Laura, whose gravitas is supported by her excellent acting ability.
One might be able to spot the common theme here. The characters are truly the heart and soul of Logan, which must of course be credited to the writers and director James Mangold as well as the performers. What Christopher Nolan brought to the Dark Knight is what Mangold brings to Logan, in a well-understood, well-crafted and well-executed film possessing elements of science-fiction yet simultaneously grounded in reality. This is difficult to elaborate on, but Logan somehow feels more real than a film featuring a self-healing man with adamantium claws ought to be. Set against the bright desert sun, Mangold expertly transitions between thrilling scenes of unspeakable brutality to quiet, heartfelt scenes where the humour and charisma of the lead characters truly breaks through. Ironically, the former almost always occurs during the day, and the latter at night, providing a smart contrast to the film. And while we’re on that note, let’s talk about the violence. From the first 5 minutes of the opening scene, one can tell that Logan is R-rated, as the film truly does not hold back in brutal, violent scenes with lots of swearing throughout. Logan. Is. Brutal. But it is brutal in a way that maximises entertainment value, and, in a way, is the most accurate interpretation of action involving the Wolverine we will probably ever see on screen.
I Hurt Myself Today
It’s understandable that unsuspecting viewers may be disappointed in not getting what they expected out of an X-Men film. But the important message to convey here is that Logan is not really an X-Men film. As indicated throughout this article, Logan is simply a different type of movie, being more about the man than the mutant, hence the film’s title. It has great action scenes, but also significant periods which are slow-paced, serving to develop the characters and tone. At no point does the slow pacing allow the viewer to lose focus, as something always happens to snap the average adrenaline junkie’s brain right back into attention mode.
If one could point out a flaw in the film, it would most definitely be the ‘villains’, of which there is more than one. But the villain Pierce, played by Boyd Holbrook, has the most screen time, and puts in as good a performance as possible. The only problem is that his intimidation factor decreases exponentially as the film progresses, as we are introduced to more menacing, dangerous and higher ranked villains with less screen time but arguably more important roles, relegating Pierce to an almost inconsequential character. In the end, the greatest enemy comes from within, as Logan wrestles with his painful past as well as his seemingly hopeless future. And to be able to interpret that from this screenplay is another testament to the film’s quality.
Logan is a story of redemption. Of hope. And of the future. And yes, it just so happens to have X-Men characters in it. It’s heartwarming at times, but also heartbreaking. To say it’s the Dark Knight of Marvel properties may be stretching it, but as it stands, Logan may soon be entering many Top 10 lists of the best comic book adaptations to film. If you are a fan of the Wolverine or simply a fan of film, Logan is the perfect way to spend your weekend. Though mostly a dark picture, Logan serves up enough awesomeness and satisfaction to be endlessly re-watchable. If we could touch upon one more positive note, it is that Hugh Jackman should be proud of ending his run as the famed mutant on a high. But now, the all-important question becomes: is this really the last we’ve seen of Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine?
Overall Score: 8.6/10
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Nick Oon (author) from London on March 18, 2017:
Thank you Kevin. Appreciate it loads!
Kevin Cheng from Hong Kong on March 17, 2017:
Awesome review for an awesome movie, can't stop thinking about it.