“… manages to seamlessly mix a heart wrenching, character-driven story with wonderful action sequences; but don’t be fooled, even the action sequences in Logan are sad.”
Just a warning: this review may contain spoilers for Logan. If you have any interest in seeing the movie, please do so before reading any further.
When I first saw the trailer for Logan (you know, the one with the Johnny Cash song) I absolutely loved it. I’m a huge fan of art being able to convey emotion, and that trailer did that in spades. With that being said, I knew that the movie would be nothing like the trailer. We’ve had it before, specifically with comic book movies (here’s looking at you, Marvel), where the trailer will be all sad and brooding but the final product will be a few sad scenes separated by the same old over-the-top action that we have grown accustomed to. I’m not saying this is a bad thing, I for one love the action scenes in almost every Marvel movie, I just know that it is a fact. Despite however many fans want to scream from the rooftops “Winter Soldier is a political thriller”, it doesn’t change the fact that the movie is really just another Marvel movie. So when I sat down yesterday to watch Logan, I was expecting to be a bit disappointed that it didn’t match the trailer’s tone; luckily I was able to avoid those feelings completely. Logan follows Wolverine, who is now a sad alcoholic in the year 2029. Mutants are no longer being born and that means that the numbers are dwindling. Wolverine makes his living by driving a limousine in Texas (for some reason), and secretly looks after a senile Professor X who is stashed away south of the border. This is until he gets a job to transport a young mutant to a safe-haven in North Dakota. What happens then is like a road trip movie, but one that makes you want to kill yourself by the end.
This isn’t your grandfather’s Wolverine, that’s for sure. This movie opens with Wolverine saying “Aw, fuck”; and that marks the start of the R-rating that this film fought so hard to keep. When I first heard that Logan would be R-rated, I just assumed that there would be a lot of violence. Granted there is an abundance of violent scenes, but the strong language is not something that I thought much of. Seeing these characters that I am so familiar with have mouths that can only be compared to those of sailors is something that was hard to get over at first. I understand that these characters are adults, and adults swear, but the volume of curse words is what kept surprising me. This may be a case of me being used to zero f-bombs, and then having the character say ten of them which feels like thirty, but honestly it felt a little juvenile. Much like children on a playground, these characters were spouting every curse word known to man as often as they could. Now I didn’t hate this, it was just really hard to get used to. It almost seems like that was the filmmakers way of saying “fuck you” to the studio; by having the characters swear constantly there is almost no resemblance to their original forms. Despite there being more fucks in Logan that in a brothel, the film does kind of get you used to the swearing and you stop noticing it as the film goes on; this is when you are able to appreciate all of the care that went into the film. First of all, the action scenes are absolutely amazing. I don’t think there was one moment where I was able to breathe when Logan was engaging in combat. It managed to simultaneously be high-octane, and very visceral. This action was able to balance the fact that Logan is a superhero and the fact that he is essentially a degenerate very well; this caused the action to be very gritty and insanely intense. This was not only accomplished by the wonderful choreography in these fight scenes, but also in the stunning special effects. There was only one moment in Logan where I rolled my eyes at the CGI and that was during the limo chase scene, specifically where the limo tries to drive through the fence. Apart from that minor hiccup, Logan is a beautiful display of what can be done with CGI. The gruesome fight scenes were shot in such a way that the effects are hidden, not that they even have to be. There is a wonderful blend of digital and practical effects that make the often grotesque displays seamless to the naked eye. I’m not exaggerating when I say that almost everything was done perfectly in Logan.
The story of Logan is not the most intricate, but the characters are what elevate it past anything I could have imagined. We have this very realistic Wolverine, who is just fed up with everything. He is trying his hardest to make ends meet, and make Professor X’s final days nice, but it seems that every single thing in the world is against him. We got a bit of this Wolverine in The Wolverine, but after he gets a haircut he seems to be just fine. In Logan however, despite there being a bit of a haircut, this Wolverine is here to stay. The other thing I liked about The Wolverine was the introduction of a more vulnerable Wolverine. Like I mentioned in that review, it didn’t exactly humanize him but it did raise the stakes. Logan manages to accomplish this again, but does it even better. I would argue that Logan does actually humanize Wolverine, despite the fact that he still has claws in his hands. In Logan we see a Wolverine who is beaten, bruised, and frankly tired. He doesn’t want to fight anymore but he is forced to at times; this means that often he will take the easy way out, and I don’t think there is anything more human than that. We also get to see this grizzled character finally care about someone again. At long last, we get to penetrate the brick wall that houses Wolverine’s emotions and peak inside; and it is magnificent. Of course all of this was most likely outlined in the script, but it was Hugh Jackman that brought it to life. Who would have thought that Hugh Jackman, a celebrity crush of men and women alike, could play a man who is so ugly on the inside. Of course this is a barrier that he puts up, but my point still stands. All of the grit and emotion that comes from Wolverine in Logan is thanks to Hugh Jackman, and I would go so far as to say that this was easily his best Wolverine performance. In Logan we also get the absolute saddest portrayal of Professor X. A man who, at one point could control the minds of every single person in the world has now lost control of his own. I’m of the belief that diseases that effect your mind (like alzheimer’s) are the absolute worst thing in the world; so to see a character that was like a father-figure to the mutant cause forget who he is was a little hard to stomach. One small complaint I have with this part of the story is the fact that after our group hits the road, Professor X seems to be fine. Although it was very hard to watch, part of me wishes that the Professor X from the beginning of the movie was the one that we got all the way through. Again this amazing character is thanks to Patrick Stewart who did an absolutely amazing job in Logan. Even past the two main characters, you have Dafne Keen doing an absolutely stunning job as Laura. I know that child actors are very difficult to get good performances out of at times, so the praise should not only go to Dafne Keen but also director James Mangold. Honestly the performances were just the cherry on top of the sundae in Logan.
Finally what I want to discuss is the story itself, and where everything will go from here. Now both Hugh Jackman and Patrick Stewart have said that this will be the last film where they play their respective parts, and I’m perfectly fine with that. In the case of Wolverine, a character who has many drastic ups and downs over his cinematic career, I think Logan is a perfect end. You have to leave them wanting more, as they say. Logan was not just a good Wolverine movie, but it was a good movie in general. And the away the story ends is a perfect full stop to the story of Wolverine. It’s bittersweet, but ultimately it makes you look back on the character favourably. The same goes for Professor X, although there weren’t as many shitty Professor X movies. In the case of Patrick Stewart I would say that it is smart to hang up the wheelchair, if only for his age. I’m not saying he’s going to die soon or anything, but he deserves to take a break. Also, I don’t think the Patrick Stewart Professor X will be returning anytime soon due to the X-Men reboot that started with First Class. I think that his story has been told and Patrick Stewart did a great job telling it. On the same page I would also say that Ian McKellen is done too, although that doesn’t really matter because he wasn’t in Logan. The last thing I want to discuss is the very end of Logan: In the movie theatre, I was a little stunned when I saw the credits start. To me it was very abrupt, and kind of fucked with the tone of the end of the movie. Maybe even holding on that shot for a little longer would have helped; but after thinking about it I’ve changed my tune. The ending of Logan, while abrupt, is very fitting. The movie was about Wolverine, so it ended with Wolverine. Of course in a movie sense we would love to maybe get another scene of Laura and co. arriving in Canada or something, but it isn’t needed. The movie wasn’t about her, it was about Wolverine’s last hurrah. During his final moments he essentially made peace (well, as much peace as he could make), and the ending kind of plays into that. We don’t need to see any more of anything, because we got what the director wanted us to get. Sure there is a sense of unease in the pits of or stomachs, but what death doesn’t cause that? That’s the point of death: one minute you are alive, the next minute you’re not. Anyway, all I’m trying to say is that I couldn’t have asked for a better ending to what was an amazing film.
Overall Logan takes what we have grown used to with comic book movies, and turns it on it’s head. It manages to seamlessly mix a heart wrenching, character-driven story with wonderful action sequences; but don’t be fooled, even the action sequences in Logan are sad. I don’t want to say that all comic book movies should strive to be like Logan, because I know that different stories have different purposes; what I will say is that Logan is a shining example of what comic book movies can be.
I give Logan an A