The following review will likely be filled to the brim with spoilers. If you are looking for validation of already excellent reviews, or a recommendation, suffice it to say that Logan is a modern masterpiece. It is a must see for any cinephile, or lover of comics (of age…this is a rough one).
From the beginning, it was clear that Logan was different. Beside’s its R rating, its first trailer had a much darker tone, but seemed hopeful at the same time. In the same frame of time, we saw wolverine shish-kebabing a baddie, and holding the hand of a young girl. I was hooked. I’ve always been fascinated by Wolverine’s capacity for nurture. Despite his hard exterior, he played mentor to x-women Kitty Pryde, and Jubilee.
The movie begins near the Texas-Mexico border, with some thugs trying to boost the rims off of Logan’s limo. He beats them off, as expected, but struggles to do it; later we see him struggling to push the bullets out of their wounds, which anyone who saw Days of Future Past will recall as a fairly easy task back in 1973. It is easy to let Logan’s healing factor define him, especially for followers of the comics, but the movie does a great job of adding perceived danger, through the continual slowing of his healing. The average gunshot wound won’t kill him, but it’ll put him out of action for a few seconds, a few seconds he may not have.
The action in Logan is more serious as a result. I don’t think I’ve seen combat in any movie that made me so uneasy. Superheroes these days are more or less invulnerable, and its a powerful statement to see a man who is supposed to be inherently impossible to kill struggling at the thing he does best. There are a couple moments when the movie seems a little too excited to finally be free to show all the blood it wants, but the more intense scenes are rather sparsely distributed, and that’s a good thing. Logan doesn’t use them as a crutch, but rather as a supplement to the story.
Jackman’s, Stewart’s and Keen’s acting are all superb as well. Professor X is fascinating this time around as a version of his character gone senile, and unable to control his powerful psychic abilities. He routinely undergoes episodes of outputting paralyzing brainwaves, that continue until he is given an injection of something to sedate his abilities. He isn’t all there, but he has moments of surprising clarity, as he is still able to impart upon Logan, wisdom, just as he did all those years ago. After having dinner with a normal family, he explains that “this is what life is”, and that it is what Logan is missing.
Dafne Keen does an excellent job in this movie. I was initially uneasy about the prospect of a child actor maintaining an equal role to the likes of Hugh Jackman, but she more than holds her own. It is not until about an hour and a half into the picture that she speaks for the first time, but her emotions, and motivations are perfectly conveyed from the beginning. She shows a sense of anger, at everyone she meets, but also the wonder of a neophyte with all of the new experiences she has. She also has claws on her feet, which is interesting, simply my merit of being different. Her combat is as wonderful as it is viscous; her primal scream of rage is befitting to a fighting style as brutal as hers.
Wolverine however, begins this story as a shell of his former self. The apparent extinction of the mutants somehow, has reduced the once strong and virtuous hero, to a bitter, and weak man; driving around in a limo to barely scrape by. More than just a battle against a robust enemy though, this is a battle for Logan’s soul. Where he once was a selfless warrior, now he cares only for himself. Enter X-23, a girl who, while a great fighter, needs his help. As he helps her, motivated by the money she offers at first, he learns again to put someone else first, and by the film’s finale, he no longer cares about himself, and is willing to do whatever it takes to protect those he loves. I’m not the type to cheer or clap at the movies, but at about the two minute mark — when mutant children flee evil Transigen gaurds, we hear Logan’s howl, and see him hurtling towards the enemies, the righteous fire within him ignited once again — I desperately wanted to.
We live in an age of cinema that, I think, will be known in 30 years or so as “the golden age of superhero movies” or something to that effect. Just as in the age of the westerns, I believe that a select few films will be remembered as classics, and the rest cast by the wayside. Sam Raimi’s Spider Man, Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight, Joss Whedon’s Avengers, and Captain America Civil War, by the Russo brothers, will likely all be remembered. Logan, which is not unlike a western itself (James Mangold did direct 3:10 to Yuma) offers up excellent character and emotional development, as well as some satisfactory combat; I think, it will not be forgotten anytime soon.