Logan (2017) Movie Review – ** Beware of Minor Spoilers **
Director: James Mangold
Starring: Hugh Jackman, Patrick Stewart, Dafne Keen, Boyd Holbrook, Stephen Merchant, Elizabeth Rodriguez
Saying that Logan is the best standalone Wolverine movie is hardly going out on a limb. Logan is deserving to be in the conversation for best X-Men franchise movie. What makes this film standout is exploring Logan at his most authentic self in a grounded way.
Many of the other X-Men movies don’t hit the mark especially when it comes to characters. By stripping away the trappings of a typical superhero team movie, this film distills the raw, essential aspects of Logan.
In 2029, old man Logan is an alcoholic, Uber limousine driver. This is a nice symbolism for Logan’s aimlessness and purposeless life. After the opening act, Logan is sort of like a road movie with a Western vibe.
Characters are typically in a constant state of movement which is contrasted in some scenes where they can’t move at all. Logan’s problem to overcome is on choosing a destination which is a good way to represent both his state of mind and the practical dilemma at hand when trouble comes his way.
Living forever sounds like a great thing. But it also means that everyone you know is dead or dying. You could find yourself stuck looking at life in the rear view mirror. With old man Logan having an expiration date he’s more relatable to us mere mortals in that he’s stumbling to find meaning in life and doesn’t know what hope looks like even if it hits him in the face. For a lot of people as they lie on their death-bed they see hope in knowing that a part of them will live on in their children.
Part father-figure, part conscience, Professor Xavier is Logan’s only responsibility until a feral, mutant girl named Laura comes into their lives. I like Xavier’s interplay with Logan more than with Laura. Xavier has some great lines, heck he even swears. One of my favorite pearls of wisdom from Xavier is “This is what life looks like: people love each other. You should take a moment…”. Technically, Logan is older than Xavier though.
Perhaps what Laura represents to Logan is that he has to accept responsibility for her and in doing so may find meaning. Laura is mostly a non-verbal, physical role by actress Dafne Keen and she gives off some great, terrifying glares. Without the R-rating, these main characters would have lacked an edge. It’s refreshing and satisfying to see a no-holds bar Logan.
Our greatest enemies are usually ourselves. We may be aware of our deep character flaws yet that doesn’t mean we can overcome them. So can I understand the reason for choosing this particular villain. For viewers comparing Logan to the Dark Knight it doesn’t come close, certainly not on the villain front. Here the villain is underdeveloped and there could have been more interesting choices.
As an antagonist, Donald Pierce (Boyd Holbrook), a conniving agent with a cybernetic hand, starts off promising. Unfortunately, he doesn’t do anything “villain-worthy” and is treated like an afterthought in the final act. Although he looks decrepit, mutant tracker Caliban (Stephen Merchant) is a good guy with a dark past. I thought of Wheatley from Portal 2 when I heard Merchant’s voice; however, aside from both being cue balls, Wheatley and Caliban aren’t anything like.
Like Logan, the actions scenes are savage. Without mutants who’ll raise their hands from their side to make a rain storm pour down, the focus is squarely on Wolverine’s physicality and ferociousness. We finally see what those nasty adamantium claws can really do to people. Nothing too grandiose or comic booky. This style is a perfect fit for Logan. It’s too bad that Hugh Jackman who’s consistently good is hanging up the costume. Oh wait, we never got to see him wear the classic yellow Wolverine suit. It would have clashed with the weary, realistic tone of this movie anyways.
Logan isn’t meant to be an epic story. It’s a character journey where along the way he finds bits of himself that he’s lost or forgotten. Logan does justice to its main character. Hugh Jackman owns the role for the last time. He captures Wolverine’s humanity and the animalistic side. The weaker spots in Logan is the final battle and lacking an engaging villain. So as Logan walks off into the sunset so to speak, hopefully X-men movie producers are taking down notes furiously on how to get it done right for future films.
In 2029, old man Logan has retreated from the world until a mutant girl shows him what to live for.
Pros: Rated R action and Logan unleashed
Cons: Lacks great villain