Logan (2017)

Review #1,418

Director:  James Mangold
Cast:  Hugh Jackman, Patrick Stewart, Dafne Keen
Plot:  In the near future, a weary Logan cares for an ailing Professor X in a hideout on the Mexican border.  But Logan's attempts to hide from the world and his legacy are up-ended when a young mutant arrives, being pursued by dark forces.

Genre:  Action / Drama / Sci-Fi
Awards:  Nom. for 1 Oscar - Best Adapted Screenplay
Runtime:  137min
Rating:  M18 for strong brutal violence and language throughout, and for brief nudity
Distributor:  20th Century Fox

“Logan, you still have time.”

Hugh Jackman’s last outing as Wolverine unfolds with intensity and tenacity, two qualities that define James Mangold’s Logan, an assured film that holds its own against other great comic book superhero movies that had come before it, and would surely spark a new trajectory for the genre—there’s value in investing in carefully-constructed character studies. 

When the trend is to squeeze superheroes into one (or a two-parter) film to achieve an ultra-epic spectacle of action and good-evil showdown, Logan goes down the other rabbit hole, exploring the psyche of a character loved dearly by fans of not just the ‘X-Men’ franchise, but of popular culture in general.  

Jackman is Wolverine, inseparable like bloodied fists to torn gloves, and here he gives one of the best performances of his career.  Logan being a superhero movie doesn’t even slightly diminish Jackman’s work, whose display is fuelled by an increasing weariness, a waning of physical powers, cutting a desolate figure who longs for closure—emotional, psychological, anything really, as long as he is afforded the respect to sign off with dignity. 

Mangold, one of the co-writers, gives Wolverine the last hurrah that he wants, and we as audiences must accept that time has passed for both character and actor (all of 17 years since Bryan Singer’s X-Men (2000) gave Jackman his international breakthrough).

The story is simple: a young mutant disrupts the lives of Logan and Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart) as they seek temporary refuge, hiding from society and the government.  But what Logan gives to the story is a rare sense of thoughtfulness—relationships are fostered through action and the catharsis of violence, giving new meaning to the words ‘blood ties’.  Narrative propels action, and action propels narrative—none is triumphant; both are subservient to a bigger legacy. 

The film is incredibly violent and gory, but each slice of Wolverine’s claws against flesh and bone is validated by the need to earn the aforementioned respect and dignity.  What could have been mindless violence becomes something else, a kind of spiritual self-disembowelment through the bodies of the unholy, like self-exorcising through the exorcism of others.  Justice is certainly served poetically in this one. 

So go watch Logan, because it will surprise and entertain you.  It is a great film, one that breaks free of genre conventions, works as a gripping character study and makes no apologies for its ultraviolence.  If the smirky Deadpool (2016) opened the doors for the R-rated superhero movie to flourish commercially and critically, Logan is the conspicuous welcome mat.  No, make it a bloody red carpet. 

Verdict:  What a surprising treat—this is a great comic book superhero movie that breaks free of genre conventions, works as a character study and makes no apologies for its ultraviolence.


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