MARCH 3, 2017 SCREENING: LOGAN (2017)
In one word: Wow.
Logan, the latest (and supposedly “final”) film to star Hugh Jackman as Wolverine, was a fantastic experience to watch. To avoid the problem of being blinded by the euphoria of just seeing the film, I made to sure to blog my experiences two days after sitting down to watch it at the theater. Also, to avoid over hyping the movie and making it out to be some kind of flawless masterpiece, I’d like to start off my review by listing some of the things I didn’t like about the movie:
It’s no spoiler to say this film shows us a very bleak and pessimistic future that seems to outright ignore (or at best) cancel out the “happy” ending of one of the best films in series, X-Men: Days of Future Past. Buying the world of Logan was a stretch, especially since it apparently takes place a mere six years after Logan “fixed” the future in DOFP and the story ended with all the X-Men reunited and back working at Xavier’s school. Logan is a “dark and gritty” R rated experience, and the script pretty much is written to pretty much drive home that point by showing extreme violence and having Professor X swear up a sh!tstorm, rather than end up being R rated because of the organic nature of the story resulted in more adult content. Indeed, Professor X himself seemed out of character for much of the movie, and that’s even after taking into account that the character is supposed to be ill and senile for much of the film and the fact that we learned he went through an ugly time in the 70s during DOFP. Here, some of Xavier’s conversations made him seem more like a crude, obnoxious whiny drunk that Wolverine picked up off the street, rather than a distinguished, extremely intelligent, retired professor. Last but not least, for a final film, there was a strange lack of surprise appearances of characters from previous film, including the hoped for reunion between Wolverine and Sabertooth (I hope that doesn’t spoil things for two much). Such an inclusion would have taken things full circle and been great closure for the fans. Alas, it didn’t happen and it was a disappointment.
So aside from my laundry list of complaints listed above, what did Logan do RIGHT? To be honest, pretty much everything else. Logan combines a compelling story, emotional weight, action-adventure, drastic stakes, black humor, and family bonding almost effortlessly. It’s a superhero movie, a road trip movie, a twisted coming-of-age story, and a heart-wrenching yet creepy sci-fi cover story all wrapped into one. The critically panned X-Men: Apocalypse (which I liked and defended, and still think it was decent) suffered from one major flaw in my opinion: It played it too safe and gave us a “typical” X-Men movie with nothing new or interesting aside from Apocalypse itself. In many ways, Logan is its spiritual opposite: It gives us familiar characters and back story we’ve known for decades, but gives a totally new spin and direction to them. Although Logan is technically a “spinoff” of the mainstream X-Men universe, it has far more gravitas than many of the “major” X-Men movies and will stay with you long after you’ve seen the movie.
One the coolest new elements to this film is newcomer child actress Dafne Keen, playing Wolverine’s “daughter” Laura. The character has the same brutal powers (including metal claws) and uncontrollable animalistic nature as Wolverine, and Keen does an amazing performance to convey that both in her physical action scenes as well as her character moments. The actress is only 11 and had to do much of the film with no dialogue (since her character in the film doesn’t speak English) and she is able to convey a ton through just expressions and body language. The first action sequence with Keen was also a standout moment that I won’t spoil for anyone who hasn’t seen the movie yet.
Aside from Keen, the rest of the supporting cast was very intriguing as well, both in the way the script wrote the roles and what the actors brought to those parts. Since I am not familiar with the comic book back-story of any of the new characters in this movie, it added an additional layer for me in a way that X-Men storylines like the Dark Phoenix saga and the Horsemen of the Apocalypse couldn’t’ when they were translated to the big screen. I’m now very curious to read some of the source material used to write the plot and characters of this film.
If this does turn out to be Jackman’s final appearance as Wolverine, we can at least say he went out with a bang rather than a whimper. I will not made grandiose claims that Logan is the greatest superhero film of all time or even that it is the greatest X-Men film of all time, but I will say it is BY FAR the best of the three Wolverine solo movies, and that’s coming from someone who liked X-Men Origins: Wolverine and thinks the film got too much hate. The previous two Wolverine solo movies can’t hold a candle to this one, which is a definitive moment in Hugh Jackman’s character. Although this film was clearly intended to be his “last” appearance as the character and there’s nothing in the movie to “hint” otherwise (and I actually think the filmmakers sincerely intended this film to be his swan song) I have a feeling he’ll be back someday, in one way or another. Hugh Jackman as Wolverine is just too iconic to let go.
*** ½ out of ****