“I never thought an X-Men movie would make me feel things.”
I heard this as I was walking out of my screening of Logan. After appearing in six X-Men films and two other standalone Wolverines, this is the last hurrah for Hugh Jackman as Wolverine. But unlike the previous installments, this one is much more poignant and philosophical. And also much more violent.
The film is set in a near future where the mutant population has dwindled and no new mutants have appeared in many years. Logan (Jackman), a functioning alcoholic who is no longer able to regenerate as quickly as he used to, spends his days as a chauffer or taking care of an ailing Professor X (a frail Patrick Stewart). They both plan on riding (actually sailing on a boat) into the sunset, until a mysterious little girl (Dafne Keen) crosses their path and from there it becomes a road trip to the Canadian boarder.
As you can see from the plot, Logan is essentially a Western -a relucant hero is drawn to fight one last time. Most of the film is set in the desert and the colors are very saturated. At one point, Professor and Laura, the little girl, watch Shane on a hotel room TV. In another, Logan comes to the defense of a farmer and his family when their land is threatened by an evil conglomeration. Hell, even the promotional art (like the poster above) uses a sunset as the main motif.
Even with most of the Western influences, Logan borrows themes and similarities from numerous other films: Léon: The Professional, Children of Men, Little Miss Sunshine, Terminator 2: Judgement Day. And like these movies, Logan earns it’s R-rating for sure – adamantium claws are stabbed through pretty much every single part of the human body. Plus Jackman is allowed to utter more “f” bombs than the one he is was allowed in previous installments (even stately Professor X gets in the mix). There’s even some brief nudity thrown in.
The small issue I have with Logan is the villains. Boyd Holbrook plays a mercenary with a robotic arm that is there to pretty much to ham up his scenes without really doing anything of substance. For the sake of spoilers I won’t go into other specifics, but let me just say that I’m getting a little tired of the trend of having a younger/CGI-ed version of a character as a villain (i.e. Tron:Legacy and last year’s Terminator disaster).
I think the reason why Logan is able to resonate with viewers more so than other comic book films is its footing in the real world. Instead of the CGI-heavy action sequences in most comic book adaptations, director James Mangold films everything up close and personal.
If you boil it down, it’s a story about a man filled with sorrow and regret taking care of a father figure whose mind is slowly deteriorating. When Laura comes into the picture, Logan must decide if he wants to cause pain and suffering to another person he cares about.
If The Dark Knight is the Citizen Kane of comic book films, then Logan is like The Deer Hunter – epic, violent and bleak throughout, but an excellent study on how characters try live their life after trauma. But with superpowers.