Hugh Jackman is back as Wolverine for perhaps the last time. It had better be worth it.
The year is 2029. Gone is the optimistic X-men universe fighting for mutant rights with flashy superpowers and lots of leather costumes. Gone are almost all familiar faces and it seems that the age of mutants is all but passed by. Our namesake hero is still around, being nearly immortal and all, but he’s certainly seen better days. Weathered and aged like a cactus irrigated with booze, Wolverine is half the formidable force he once was as he tries to lay low and scrape up enough cash to escape somewhere better than the southwestern hellhole he’s in curently. Of course half of a deadly saber cyclone is still nothing to be trifled with as we see early on.
Professor X (Sir Patrick Stewart), the most powerful mind in existence, is still here also, but a sad shell of a once great leader. It’s really a bleak setup that begs for a catalyst to bring hope and purpose back to these beloved characters. That catalyst comes in the form of a Mexican woman begging for Logan’s help. Something to do with her little girl (Dafne Keen)…
You can thank Deadpool for this one. The Merc with the Mouth proved that there was a market for R-rated comicbook fare. And since Fox cares less about X-men film continuity than George Lucas cares about film preservation, director James Mangold was free to run with this very different take on some familiar faces. An F-bomb dropping, whiskey swigging, bloody knuckled son of a gun runs the show in a movie that’s essentially a modern western that just happens to feature a few mutants in the lead. Deadpool‘s success may have led to the green light of Logan, but they are entirely different films despite their shared comic book universe and hard R rating. Whereas Deadpool is darkly comedic and deeply irreverent, Logan is grounded, gutsy, and emotional. Instead of being played for laughs and gasps, the violence is visceral and in your face, finally portraying accurately what getting into a fistfight with a guy who has razor sharp knives growing out of his hands would actually be like. It’s not pretty, but it’s oh so satisfying at times. The language isn’t there to shock and titillate, but a natural reaction to the sort of world our heroes find themselves in.
This will likely be the most emotional and well acted superhero film you have ever seen. I say that because I don’t think another exists at this time that can measure up to Logan in those departments. As I overheard another person at the screening say, it’s as if Logan was “a real movie,” as opposed to something to be cataloged next to Batman Begins, The Avengers, X-Men First Class and others in the comic book hero genre. I couldn’t agree more, and I believe that were it not for some recognizable names and references, someone unaware of the source material would simply think it a western sci-fi masterpiece.
It should come as no surprise that Stewart and Jackman are phenomenal in the the roles they were born to play, fleshed out and free of normal studio confines. What is unexpected, though, is how young Keen steals almost every scene she’s in, and with only a few dozen lines of dialogue at that. One of the things that makes this movie so special and so effective is that it is self contained, neither leaning on what’s come before, or pressured into being franchise fodder for bigger things to come. That being said, I totally wouldn’t mind seeing Keen reprise her role in some future film down the road.
There are a few things that keep Logan from being a perfect movie in my mind. First, no matter how great it is, it is still utterly depressing so much of the time. It’s hard to cheer for the heroes when they don’t seem capable of cheering for themselves. Things are bleak and sometimes hard to watch. It makes for a fantastic and poignant movie, but sometimes it’s a bit too much. The language also, sometimes seems a bit much, like they’re trying too hard to earn that R rating. Maybe I was just weirded out hearing a sailor’s mouth on Stewart’s Xavier, but it seems a little forced at times. Finally, the ending subtracts some of the believeability and credibility the film has built up prior. That’s not say it’s anywhere near the level of The Wolverine‘s ending, but it could have used a little more thought and polish to keep it in line with the quality of the rest of the movie. All in all, minor nitpicks, and we’re gifted with a movie that finally gives Wolverine his proper dues in spectacular fashion.
Mrs. Hamster says:
“It was a gritty, more realistic Wolverine. It was a good movie but I didn’t like it.”
Brother Hamster did not screen this film
My rating: Four out of five hats
Logan slashes into 4,071 theaters, including IMAX, March 3