Logan – Movie Review
Rating: B (Good)
Trailer/Thumbnail Courtesy 20th Century Fox
Over the years, the X-Men films have been perfectly fine with not keeping to a consistent style. This has been a boon to directors who are not restricted to merely keeping with what Bryan Singer and others have done. Logan applies a more rough around the edges approach and purposely deviates from the shiny aesthetic of big studio superhero films. The title is fitting, since this script could have removed the X-Men connection and still be a road trip adventure about two individuals trying to find their place in the world. James Mangold seems to have been given the freedom to take Wolverine in new directions.
The best scenes in Logan are the character building moments between the battered Wolverine and new young mutant Laura. There is an actual chemistry there, precisely because Logan is almost reluctant to agree to it. The cloud of superheroism hovers over him with a comic book adding to the pain of a memory he would rather forget. That’s the thematic string that holds the film together. The story is his, but Laura is the inciting incident and the character that will most stick in viewer’s heads. The primary problem with Wolverine is he’s mostly been a gruff indestructible force. Logan fixes that by making him completely vulnerable and prone to a lot more pain than his younger quickly healing self.
Action-wise, Logan does not flinch. There is a harshness and an impact to the violence. At one point, Logan brings up the difference between comic book violence and real conflict. While the gore is slightly over-the-top and the adamantium claws still come out, slicing and dicing, there is a raw grittiness on display. The villains, a frequent weakness in recent comic book films, are of the generic evil scientist and evil military guy type. They are merely there to provide a threat and conflict for the main characters and be a constant thorn in Wolverine’s side. Patrick Stewart’s Charles Xavier also has a sizable role, mostly showing the effect age has on mutants.
There is only a little attempt to catch audiences up with these near future events. Little hints are dropped here and there, but Mangold mostly relies on visual clues to tell the story and present context. Talky exposition is thankfully kept to a minimum with Mangold even mocking the trope of the monologuing villain. The film does run a little on the long side with some slow stretches when characters have to stop and recharge their batteries. Hugh Jackman is at his peak Wolverine here, showing his age and his tiredness after everything he has gone through. It’s been a little tiring how much the X-Men films have focused so much on Wolverine. However, he earns the lead billing here. In her film acting debut, Dafne Keen does so much with a character who has to rely primarily on her facial expressions. That vulnerability and rage comes through clearly in her performance.
Logan breaks the mold of the modern superhero film and one can easily see comic book fan boys being enthusiastic about the finished product. It clearly is not the end of the X-Men franchise, but rather marks a solid stepping stone. Between this film and last year’s Deadpool, there is a loose freedom to this series that is almost admirable. It even manages to keep cheeky in-jokes to a minimum and isn’t afraid of just throwing the viewer into this bleak future. Questions will be asked, but Logan shows that ambiguity and unanswered questions can absolutely be positives.