Logan (2017)

  • Time: 137 min
  • Genre: Action | Drama | Sci-Fi
  • Director: James Mangold
  • Cast: Hugh Jackman, Patrick Stewart, Stephen Merchant

Storyline:

In the near future, a weary Logan cares for an ailing Professor X in a hide out 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.

4 reviews

  • The best stand-alone Wolverine/Logan film, one of the best entries in the X-Men franchise, and one of the best superhero movies ever made, Logan is in many ways the antithesis to the films that have populated both the Marvel and DC film universes. Its pacing is nuanced rather than adrenalised, it is comparatively sparing in its CGI and special effects, reflectiveness has replaced bombast, and its violence impacts rather than numbs. Most significantly, this is a film with a superhero for whom super no longer seems to apply.

    Indeed, the first emotional gut punch derives from seeing both Logan (Hugh Jackman) and Professor Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart) as painfully ordinary men. Age has caught up to the once seemingly invincible mutants, who are now holed up in an abandoned plant on the outskirts of El Paso. The Professor is now in his 90s, no longer wholly in control of his powerful brain and needing black market medication to quell the seizures that cause temporary paralysis for those in the vicinity, including his daylight-evading albino caretaker, Caliban, played by Stephen Merchant in a wonderfully droll turn.

    Logan himself works as a driver, ferrying drunken frat boys and bridal parties up and down the Las Vegas strip. He’s drunk half the time, his eyesight fading, his body besieged by aches and pains, no longer able to heal itself as quickly as it once did. The admantium – the source of his strength – is slowly but surely poisoning him. In short, he is no longer the Wolverine so heralded in the history books and X-Men comic books. He and the Professor may be the last of their kind – the mutants are an endangered species, no mutant births have occurred in the past 25 years – though the Professor, during one of his unmedicated rambles, insists there are mutants to be found.

    It isn’t too long before the Professor is proven right. Logan is entreated by a Mexican nurse named Gabriela (Elizabeth Rodriguez) to protect a young girl named Laura (newcomer Dafne Keen) from paramilitary cyborg Donald Pierce (Boyd Holbrook), who has been tasked by Dr. Rice (Richard E. Grant) to retrieve her. Laura, as it comes to be revealed, is one of the specially bred, genetically enhanced products created within the Transigen corporation who have been specifically trained to be ruthless killing machines. Truly, the initial display of Laura’s powers is something to behold – she is feral and unstinting in her aggression and more than a match for the over-muscled soldiers that Pierce deploys her way. More breathtaking, especially for Logan, is the fact that she possesses metallic claws in both her hands and feet and this connection, combined with the Professor’s prodding and Laura’s intractability, forces him to carry out Gabriela’s dying request to take Laura to a place in North Dakota named Eden so that she can be given safe passage to Canada, where she can be sheltered from Transigen’s reach.

    Helmed and co-written by James Mangold, Logan successfully fuses the superhero and Western genres. The film references Western classics such as Shane (“There’s no living with the killing.), Unforgiven, and The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance to reflect upon the emotional and physical toll that violence takes upon those who inflict it and how the printed legend distorts the actual truth. It is a film that confronts mortality – “Everyone I know goes away in the end,” acknowledges Johnny Cash in his cover of “Hurt,” used to perfection in the film’s trailers – which considerably raises the stakes for Logan during the film’s fight scenes, all of which are excellently staged and piercingly powerful. (Mangold also introduces a particularly formidable villain whose identity, hinted at in X-Men: Apocalypse, is a literal representation of Logan’s ongoing battle with himself.)

    It also continues the theme of family and belonging, which has been the foundation and throughline of all the X-Men films. For better or worse, the Professor, Logan and Laura are a family – sometimes forced to tolerate one another, sometimes begrudgingly affectionate – and their scenes together will be all too familiar to anyone who’s had to discipline a child or take care of someone who is infirm. One doesn’t need to have seen the previous films to be moved by the scenes between the Professor and Logan as they have dinner with a ranch family (Eriq La Salle, Elise Neal, and Quincy Fouse), or be brought to tears when Logan utters the line “It’s got water” later in the film.

    Stewart is a wonder, imbuing the Professor with a pathos and dignity worthy of King Lear. Yet this is Jackman’s show all the way. Jackman has played this character in nine films over the course of 17 years – the role may have made him a star, but Jackman made the character his own. Never once has Jackman phoned it in, though he easily could have. Rather, he has deepened the character – even before this film, Logan was always the most human and interesting of the original X-Men – and it is a testament to Jackman’s work that not only has no other actor but him has played the role but that this is, so far, the only X-Man from that initial group to have had his own films and create his own mythology. Logan is a perfect swan song for both the character and for Jackman in the role. It’s inevitable that the series will continue with another actor cast in the role, but no one will ever match the ferocity, vulnerability, brusque comedic touch, and poignancy that Jackman brought to the man named Logan and the hero called Wolverine.

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  • Wolverine’s valedictory places him in the mainstream of American mythology. He’s the gifted outlaw whose power is needed by the civilized society, so they can survive against less principled baddies. But his power and his accumulated guilt mean he can never settle down there. Society may sometimes need the gun but must shun it. NRA and puppet Trump take note.
    That’s the great paradox that troubles America to this day. Civilization pretends to ban violence, but it needs to deploy it to survive. That point makes the classic frontier Western and its later sci-fi spinoff — the outer space frontier western — the primary American myth. In Logan two major quotations establish this theme.
    The end credits play over the old and gravely Johnny Cash’s song of the Day of Judgment, “Hurt.” Cash covered the hit by the — appropriate for this film — Nine Inch Nails. It was part of the ailing Cash’s own valedictory, his dark, melancholy, apocalyptic farewell to this world.
    Earlier, Charles and Laura watch Shane on tv. We see Jack Palance’s evil hired gun bait and slaughter a stupidly proud Southern sodbuster. Then Shane abandons his peacefulness to shoot down that and the other villains. Then Shane explains to young Joey why the gunslinger has to keep moving on. A man is what he is. That whole speech the little mutant girl heroine here recites over Wolverine’s grave. The acrobatic clawed Laura is a world away from her earlier counterpart, innocent Joey.
    Laura is one of the film’s most interesting twists in the Wolverine trilogy. She has been created from Wolverine’s DNA, so she’s had a kind off virgin birth from him. She has the pluck of the Nancy Drew school but the superhuman powers of Wonder Woman. Thus she tacitly personifies the feminist revolution. She proves most effective when she spurns dad’s orders.
    Unlike Shane, Wolverine shows very little attempts to be a man of peace. He’s introduced as hiding his superhuman powers behind the job of driving a rental limo. Like some Uber-mensch. His superpowers he calls a “poison” because it unleashes his animal nature, however virtuous his cause may be.
    For all its violence and special effects, then, this shoot-n-slice-em-up is still a film of ideas and — in the final farewell — emotion. It’s incidentally a reminder of how dangerous and foolish Trump’s plan for replacing public education with a slew of special interest schools is.

  • (RATING: ☆☆☆☆ out of 5)

    GRADE: B

    THIS FILM IS RECOMMENDED .

    IN BRIEF: A more somber and ultra-violent ode to a comic book hero.

    SYNOPSIS: The Grey Wolf is back fighting evil forces for his swan song to fans everywhere.

    JIM’S REVIEW: The claws are still razor-sharp but the man behind them is worn out and losing some of his super-heroic powers in the last chapter of the Wolverine legend. Time has not dulled the pain from the many wars this lone (wolf) survivor has fought. His body is scarred, both physically and mentally. Heavy drinking is his past-time. A hero has fallen on hard times. Hugh Jackman again stars in his acclaimed title role, the third and final chapter to his Wolverine trilogy. His character has seen better days, yet he still ready for action as he takes on the villains in James Mangold’s serious slice-and-dice adventure film, Logan.

    It is 2029 and most of the mutants are gone or undercover. Logan a.k.a. Wolverine, that Grey Wolf of a man, is now a limo driver (although being a chef at a Hibachi restaurant would have been more profitable occupation). He also has become caretaker to Prof. Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart), who has aged less gracefully and is in the process of loses control of his mind on a regular basis. With his numerous brain seizures, the Professor has a paralyzing effect on those nearby, sort of a mental 6.9 earthquake. Still , he can see the future and tells Logan that he will meet a strong force who will change his worthless life. That person is an 11 year old feral wild child named Laura (Dafne Keen). Soon the trio is on the run from evil scientists and governmental agents.

    Logan is one action set piece after another, all of high octane battles, most of which are photographed in quick blurry takes and loud clanging sound effects. The body count rises fairly quickly with bloodletting intensity as people are hacked up, beheaded, and impaled. This is an R-rated film due to many of its violent sequences and its non-stop profanity. (The film is definitely an adult superhero film that is inappropriate for young ones.)

    Yet it isn’t the action that impresses. Rather, it is the skillful direction by Mr. Mangold, the fine acting, and a seriously minded-script by Scott Frank, Michael Green, and the director that is willing to have its quieter scenes build as the film develops relationships and conflicts between its characters.

    Mr. Jackman brings a subtly hostile demeanor to his character and his interpretation of the hero shows a man slowly coming undone in search of redemption. He is defeated and tired of life’s hardships. Mr. Stewart plays his part with much empathy as a once fearless man grappling with his on-going dementia. The two actors have a convincing chemistry. Ms. Keen is a talented newcomer and she handles her mostly mute-ant part extremely well. Giving strong supporting are Eriq La Salle, Elizabeth Rodriguez, and Richard E. Grant as the evil scientist in charge of the manhunt. Stephen Merchant as Logan’s albino friend, Caliban, has some fine moments, as does Boyd Holbrook as the mercenary soldier, Pierce.

    Logan plays like a modern day western, with more than a tip of the 10 gallon hat to George Steven’s 50’s classic film, Shane. The direct link to both films is well conceived but a tad heavy-handed. However, this detail shows the filmmaker’s successful attempt to have more gravitas and depth added to this familiar genre.

    X does mark the spot in Logan. As comic book blockbusters go, this film is far from comic in its darker tone and escalating violence. The film entertains, if one can accept the brutal carnage on screen, bringing a dignified conclusion to one of the better films of Marvel factory.

    NOTE: There is a wonderful pre-credit clip from Deadpool that has the same dark view of superhero crime fighters, only this one doesn’t take itself too seriously, using wry humor to punctuate the action. It’s a perfect blending of irony and action.

  • I’m never sure if I should take super-hero movies seriously. Logan leaves me wondering over a number of things. 1) He is a super-hero but he was made one by a crazy scientist? 2- The blades that come out of his knuckles aren’t flexible and yet his wrists and fingers work fine. SPOILER ALERT! C: Logan explains that the blades were implanted in him and they are causing his death. And the child should be in the same boat. I don’t understand.
    Scott Frank has created a screenplay that follows the rules of superheroes but adds nothing in the way of explanations. The screenplay does try to make Logan more human but it’s no more than when characters died in other movies. They move from fight scene to fight scene, cancelling any humanity Frank may have been able to introduce by showing Logan as losing his patience, to put it mildly. As the director James Mangold, listed as the creator of the story as well, keeps things moving so we don’t dwell on the sad stuff and get to the next fight. Both these men play to the stereotypes and don’t break any molds in the process. That is what the audience is looking for so they will not be disappointed.
    Hugh Jackman, Logan, gives a solid if predictable performance. His Wolverine would never lead you to believe he is an award-winning actor in musicals on stage but he has done an excellent job with the character as written. Patrick Stewart plays a version of Charles that we haven’t seen before. He is obviously sick and in need of care but Charles is written so he recovers almost completely for most of the film. He has relapses when it’s convenient for the action. Patrick plays what he’s got well but what he’s got is very confusing.
    Stephen Merchant plays Caliban but don’t even think about Shakespeare because there’s nothing there even metaphorically. Merchant’s is one of the best performances in the movie because he is the most believable. His character’s humanity is always there. Dafne Keen plays Laura who has had an abusive up bringing which causes her to have sudden rages which means you need to watch out. Boyd Holbrook is Pierce and his character is not written with much depth but Holbrook makes the best of it.
    I am forced to give Logan 3 ½ seizures out of 5. This movie is running on so much cliché material it doesn’t even seem original, like it were a remake, and it’s way too long to top it all off. But if you are a fan, you’re going to like this movie.

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