Movie Review: Logan (Spoiler Free.)
Fresh from the theater, we give our spoiler free take on Logan.
Who would have thought Wolverine had it in him? After six appearances as the lethal anti-hero in the X-Men franchise, and two rather awful stand alone movies, Hugh Jackman has finished strong. Logan is a Wolverine story worth telling, and an action drama worth caring about. Anchored by strong performances, especially from series veteran Patrick Stewart and excellent new-comer Dafne Keen, exciting action sequences and a riveting moral drama, Logan is a superior super-hero movie.
The year is 2029 and mutants are a thing of the past. Logan (Hugh Jackman) possessed of unbreakable metal bones and claws coupled with an ability to heal rapidly, is a shell of his former self. Once a hero, he now chauffeurs rich tourists back and forth across the US/Mexico border. While desperately trying to earn enough money to care for an ailing and infirm Professor X (Patrick Stewart,) he becomes wrapped up in a struggle he may not have the strength to finish. A new mutant (Dafne Keen,) with powers very much like his own, has appeared, and evil forces are at work to capture her.
R Marks the Spot.
Logan absolutely thrives with an R rating. For 8 movies, Wolverine has felt neutered by the need for a family friendly rating. His intense misanthropy, bestial nature, and tendency to use alcohol to self-medicate away his self loathing never felt genuine in the earlier movies. They couldn’t be anything other than a ludicrous bluff, because the studio could not back up his character with action. Now the shackles are off…thanks in no small part to Ryan Reynold’s and his genre busting Deadpool.
Besides allowing Jackman to portray a broken and brutal man with real pathos, lifting the PG-13 restriction allowed the film to craft some of the finest action sequences seen in a super-hero flick. The choreography is tight and realistic (well, as realistic as a man with 17 bullet holes chopping people up with fist knives can be…) Logan and Laura, the young mutant, both move and fight like you would expect people of their prowess to fight. No more waving claws around but only scratching walls: limbs are severed, heads are lost, and blood flies in viscerally artistic arcs.
Shot for Shot.
The film takes every advantage of being able to tell a mature story, and to use their protagonists to the fullest extent. Besides wonderful fight scenes and excellent chase sequences, Logan takes pains to be an adult movie. The characters are appropriately dark and gritty, but not like the sham that was Batman V Superman. These are really messed up people who have done terrible things. They’ve earned their scars, and the right to brood on occasion.
The ensemble acting and crisp dialogue are excellent. Patrick Stewart and Hugh Jackman trade insults and barbed remarks like an old married couple. Indeed, you believe they have been together for the decades the movie posits. Watching Patrick Stewart drop an F bomb about needing to piss, cutting off Logan’s morbid diatribes was wonderful. They have such a poisonous yet deeply intimate relationship, and a real chemistry between the two actors. When Laura enters the mix, she feels like a real addition to the pair who brings out painful but necessary elements of each.
Despite a 135 minute run time, Logan never feels drawn out or meandering. The film has strong moments of exposition and character building, and then allows action to naturally fill the spaces between those elements. I could have spent three hours watching this drama and not blinked. Director James Mangold (who also directed the improved but not stellar The Wolverine in 2013) has a firm hand on the tiller. He also weaves in elements of classic western films (most notably, Shane) that help to inform the ethos of the picture.
*As a non-spoiler spoiler, I will say this: DON’T MISS THE FIRST 5 MINUTES! Run an old lady off the road or endanger a school bus full of orphans if you need to, but don’t be late to the theater. You’ll thank me.*
Still the Best There is at What He Does.
Logan is one of the best super-hero movies to date. I’ll probably get some heat, but I would say that it can stand toe to toe with The Dark Knight, despite not having nearly as good an antagonist. Deadpool was wonderful in its brazen swagger, but Logan is the real deal. A dark and gritty action film that is also suffused with poignant moments. It’s an action drama, and it does not sell short either element in that equation. It succeeds because not only is it a great hero flick, it is a great film, period.