Logan REVIEW – a nuanced sucker-punch to the emotions

Watching ‘Logan’ again was like waiting to have a conversation with a teacher or boss you know won’t go well. You carry out the steps, moment by moment, and sometimes, when you’re at your most optimistic, you realise these happy thoughts will be inevitably dashed once the end comes around.

Furthermore, witnessing all the events of the film with people who did not know the tragedy that awaited them (which I won’t spoil but needless to say, I was in tears by the end) was challenging to say the least. Regardless, I pushed on through the 135-or-so minutes of depression, suicidal thoughts, and, of course, stabby stabby claw murder sprees.

Speaking of the stabby stabby claw murder sprees, they are gorgeous to witness. Unlike previous X-Men movies, in which Wolverine would literally cut off arms which never even drew blood, there is a lot of gore and lingering on disgusting wounds. This film does not hold back on its brutal kills, and it is all the better for it. Not only that, there is a lot of f-bombs and other such nasty language in ‘Logan’. In fact, the first word anyone says in the movie comes straight from Hugh Jackman’s unshaved face, as he grumbles the fateful word: “Fuck.” That, dear reader, was a very deliberate decision made by the screenwriters, and one which immediately sets the tone and the mood of the film, as well as proving to the viewers that they are most definitely not going to initiate a dumb profanity filter on the script. It is incredibly refreshing to see a superhero film that doesn’t desperately restrict itself to a PG-13 rating in order to pander to younger demographics.

However, I don’t think it would be fair to call ‘Logan’ a “superhero film”, because if it does fit into any category, it certainly isn’t that. If anything, Logan is more of a western, and its recurring similarities to ‘Shane’ (which is actually played at one point in a hotel room in ‘Logan’). At no point did I think to myself, ‘yup, this sure is an X-Men movie’, except for one brief moment near the end where I realised, ‘holy shit, this is a real X-Men movie that was actually made’.

It’s still hard to believe that the studio allowed director James Mangold to create his R-rated Wolverine film. One could say that ‘Logan’ is riding on the ‘Deadpool’ bandwagon of incredibly successful adult-rated movies, but bear in mind films take a very long time to make, and as such the studio likely made the decision earlier on. I’m glad 20th Century Fox are taking risks and the fact that these risks are paying off, with ‘Deadpool’ as the most financially successful X-Men film to date worldwide, and ‘Logan’ comfortably seated at third.

In my opinion though, ‘Logan’ is definitely the best X-Men movie to date. Bearing in mind I haven’t seen ‘X-Men 2’ or ‘X-Men: Apocalypse’, I felt like there was a lot more going for this film than, say, ‘Deadpool’. While I did like ‘Deadpool’ and found it to be both entertaining and well-made, I never really achieved anything past its sense of humour. It is a very funny film, but there wasn’t much else to make a song and dance about. In some respects, ‘Logan’ has similar problems to ‘Deadpool’: there isn’t much directing flair, its camerawork is incredibly standard and the story is very straightforward. However, what ‘Logan’ has going for it that ‘Deadpool’ did not is a damn good character study.

As lovable as Ryan Reynolds’ Wade Wilson is, he isn’t a particularly interesting character. Logan, on the other hand, an ageing ex-superhero slowly dying from the inside as a result of his healing powers beginning to fade, is a far more fascinating case. I was genuinely surprised by how engaging and ultimately tragic each character, be it the aforementioned Logan, the damaged Professor X with a deteriorating brain illness (suspected to be Alzheimers), or Caliban the albino recluse, forced to hide from the world due to his appearance. The plot itself is less intriguing, with a weak main villain and a predictable structure, but the protagonists carry the film through superbly.

Even the child actor playing Laura isn’t that bad. Nothing spectacular, but with the jaw-dropping number of blockbuster movies with garbage child acting in them, this is thankful to say the least. Hugh Jackman is obviously great in his final outing as the role he is best known for, turning in one of his best ever performances, outdone only by Prisoners. Patrick Stewart is obviously brilliant and Stephen Merchant is actually pretty great, although it was a bit jarring when Caliban would open his mouth and Wheatley from Portal 2 would be the noise that came out, but that’s more a particular problem based solely on the fact that I’ve played that game, so it won’t lose marks for it.

The thing I love the most about ‘Logan’, I think, is the way the story is told very gradually, with barely any obnoxious exposition (apart from the video, and if you’ve seen the film then you’ll know what I’m talking about). Even if you haven’t seen an X-Men film in your life, you will still understand what’s going on if you’re paying attention. The film is able to stand on its own without having to refer to other films in its series for context. Everything you need to know is right there in the one movie, and I cannot tell you the last time I saw that in a high-budget “superhero” film.

If they recast the Wolverine, it would be a huge mistake. The mark that Jackman has left on the character would make him almost irreplaceable. Perhaps it is time to lay this beloved man-animal with the big pointy claws to rest. The Wolverine has been given one last hurrah, and what a hurrah it is.

Four Stars


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