RELEASED: 3rd March 2017
DIRECTED BY: James Mangold
WRITTEN BY: James Mangold, Scott Frank & Michael Green
PRODUCED BY: Simon Kinberg, Hutch Parker & Lauren Schuler Donner
STARRING: Hugh Jackman, Patrick Stewart, Dafne Keen, Boyd Holbrook, Stephen Merchant & Richard E. Grant
Logan was the film I was most excited about for 2017. Sure, there’s films like The Last Jedi, Skull Island and Baywatch (among others, and yes, I was excited for Baywatch) coming up, but there was something about Logan that really grabbed my attention. From the subtle beauty of the trailers to the promised R-Rating, there was a lot to look forward to. Logan has been released to critical acclaim, with many calling it the best film in the X-Men franchise.
But is that the case?
Logan follows James Howlett (Logan/Wolverine), a former X-Man who now drives around the southern states operating as a chauffeur in the year 2029, and despite looking bloody spectacular for a man aged 200 (give or take a few years), things aren’t going so well. His healing factor is failing, allowing the adamantium on his skeleton to poison him, he’s become a heavy drinker, his senses are duller and he now has custody of Charles Xavier (Professor X), who in his old age and senility has become incredibly dangerous. As the two former X-Men struggle on, they are found by a young girl called Laura, who, as Professor X explains, is ‘very much like’ Wolverine. With a cybernetically enhanced troop of soldiers known as the Reavers hot on her tail, Wolverine and Professor X are forced to take one last ride across America to save a life.
Both Jackman and Stewart claimed that Logan will be their last turn as Wolverine and Professor X respectively, and you can see why. The film provides an emotional and fitting end for the two characters who have both aged well past their sell-by date. They swear, they cry, they argue and they long for the end. The scenes between the two in particular are both touching and heartbreaking, due to how much poignancy both actors bring to the roles. Watching this film makes it seem like the previous 16 years of X-Men films were simply a warm-up, and now the cast is truly showing us what they can do.
Likewise, newcomer Dafne Keen is also pretty stellar as Laura (X-23). I’m not one for child-stars, but at no point in this film is she annoying or making you long for the adults to once again take centre stage. It’s hard to believe this is her first cinematic appearance, because Dafne brings a viscous desperation to the role of Laura, holding her own against Stewart and Jackman; acclaimed stars both. The villains, likewise, are well-played, with Boyd Holbrook, someone I had never heard of before this film, quickly becoming a very enjoyable on-screen presence.
But while the acting is great, perhaps the best part about Logan is its savagery. For seventeen years, we’ve been taunted by the fact that despite essentially having knives for fists and an incomprehensible level of rage, Logan never really cuts loose. There were a few memorable scenes in X2, but for the most part, Logan hasn’t been as violent as his comic-book counterpart.
That all ends here. Every time someone pops their claws in this film, whether it be Wolverine himself or the pint-sized Laura, blood is spilt. People are dismembered. They’re stabbed through the head. They’re gutted and gouged. It’s both horrific, yet weirdly beautiful, and something the X-Men films have been missing since their conception.
Along with the perfect Wolverine action, this was also the perfect (well, almost perfect, but I’ll get to that in my next post) Wolverine story. While some may argue that the continuity may not quite fit with the other X-Men movies, it’s not something you’ll really notice unless you’re picking it apart (which, to be fair, comic-book fans are want to do). The majority of the story is grounded and almost entirely character focused; it essentially gives Wolverine a concise version of his whole character arc in one film, just in case you didn’t want to go back and watch 16 years worth of films to track the characters progression. It gives a visceral study of these characters without most of the fantastical elements that usually frequents the X-Men films, and perhaps the only weak point of the movie is where it steps just a tad too far towards the more ridiculous comic-book tropes (but again, I’ll delve deeper into that tomorrow).
However, it’s the times where it does just that – step back into the fantastical – that the film starts to lose me. While I acknowledge that this is a masterpiece of superhero cinema courtesy of director James Mangold, whenever a certain element popped up on screen (keeping it as spoiler-free as I can, the primary physical antagonist Logan faces), I felt myself pulled out of the movie. I’ll touch on this more tomorrow.
There are also times when you may question whether the film needed to be so long; shaving off several scenes may have made this a smoother ride and perhaps helped some of the stunted pacing, but all-in-all, Logan is still a great film, both in regards to superhero movies and cinema as a whole. Violent and gruesome, yet beautifully touching. I give it: