- Directed by James Mangold
- Starring Hugh Jackman, Patrick Stewart, and Dafne Keen
- Written by Scott Frank
- Action, Drama
- Rated R
- 137 mins.
- Released 3 March 2017
Set in the 2029, Logan tells the story of Wolverine and Professor Xavier, whose mind has started to deteriorate after the fall of Mutant-kind, as they try to save a mutant child, Laura, from the seedy agency that is trying to hunt her down and kill her. Chased by mercenaries from Mexico to the border of Canada, Logan is tasked with getting Laura to the fabled Eden, a safe haven for Mutants across the Canadian border.
How’s the Story?
The story is really intriguing. It’s a different direction than what you would expect from what is still a comic book movie. This film is one that kind of reminds me of something like Captain America: Winter Soldier in that you could easily go see this movie as just an action movie and not a comic book movie and be entirely satisfied. This film is far more of that type of film than Winter Soldier, mind you, but that one was the first comic boom film I saw in that way. This movie could really work as a standalone. You honestly don’t need any real understanding of X-Men or Wolverine as a character to follow this movie perfectly well.
It’s very real and scary in a way because it’s the type of story that, sadly, is really unsettling in the world we live in. The concept of a group of people being hunted to near extinction for being different is both an old story and one that we all sort of fear on the horizon. The focus being on potentially the last child of an entire species of humans as well as the ‘road trip’ style was very reminiscent of the story from Children of Men, actually. There are also several films it reminds me of with the idea of ‘if we can make it to this place, we will be safe’ that this film reminded me of.
That said, I can see how to some the fact I can think of a bunch of movies that have this same basic story of survival can be a negative to some. I’m a firm believer of ‘The truth in the lie’ when it comes to fiction, the concept that through a fictional story you get the truest expression of humanity, so I’m not that bothered with this film being a story we’ve all seen before. I can watch fifty versions of the same basic tale of humanity and still be entertained by the various iterations.
How’s the Acting?
The acting in this film is phenomenal. I’m a big fan of comic book films because of their acting in recent years, and everybody knows that I genuinely believe there is better subtle, nuanced acting in some Marvel films than in the best drams, but this time I’m fairly positive that I’m not alone in saying that the acting in Logan is AMAZING.
Hugh Jackman may have never delivered a better performance. Full stop. This man was nominated for an Oscar and won a Golden Globe for his performance in Les Mis in 2012, and I would absolutely make the claim that his performance in this film is vastly superior to that one. I am not a giant Hugh Jackman fan, so I’ve really only seen him as Wolverine and then in Les Mis and I think Kate & Leopold one time, but this is a Hugh Jackman performance that makes me want to see more Hugh Jackman. The over the top Wolverine is still there, that growling, raging, massive asshole of a grump, but in that there are these moments of subtlety that are absolutely beautiful. I believe that I’m watching Logan on this screen, not Hugh Jackman playing Wolverine, which is the best praise I generally can give an actor in any role.
And if we’re going to talk about a balance of over the top and subtle acting, we have to talk about Sir Patrick Stewart. I’m a massive Sir Patrick fan. I love that guy. I love most everything about this man. I’ve seen him in so many things, and yet, again, this is a fucking stellar performance. There are moments in this movie that he absolutely breaks your heart, and it isn’t the big moments, it’s these small little twitches of his eyes or mouth that tell you that Charles Xavier is just tired of living, and it blew me away.
I had never heard of Dafne Keen before this film, and I have to say, for a child actor, this girl has so much talent. Laura was absolutely the biggest enigma at the start because I just didn’t expect such a genuine-feeling performance from a child. Like I said in my praise of Hugh Jackman, I bought this kid as Laura. I bought every moment of her on that screen. The fact that she spends two thirds of the film silent, only acting with her facial features, is fucking astounding, because I never felt like I wasn’t understanding her and fully in the scene with her. I just cannot get over this kid’s depth and range, especially in a film where she’s silent the majority of the time.
How’s the Writing/Directing?
As I’ve said in a lot of reviews, I’m a firm believer that a good director can turn anybody into a good actor, and a good director with good actors can make a masterpiece. This film is not necessarily a masterpiece, but the film that Mangold managed to put together here is proof that he is just a good, solid director. I love all these tiny choices that really make the film connect. There are scenes that you don’t really get until later on when the reason they were there really stands out. A good example here would be the scene with the boy giving Laura his phone to let her listen to music. I won’t give a spoiler and reveal why that’s so significant, but it made very little sense at the time, and yet the depth of emotion it evoked when it became relevant just wouldn’t have been there without that scene.
As I just touched on something that’s directorial but also somewhat a writing praise, I have to admit, there are imperfections in this film, and I would say that the bulk of that is in the writing. Don’t get me wrong, this film has a very solid script. I’m a huge fan of dialogue-light films, and though this one isn’t Moonlight in that respect, it is definitely a film that relies a lot on allowing the viewer to fill in the gaps themselves rather than using more words. However, there are also some problems when it comes to that, because I left the film with some unanswered questions that I don’t think are due to me not having ever seen a Wolverine movie before this. There are allusions to story information and plot points that are never elaborated upon and, yes, one could argue that you can infer the information and make your own conclusions, but I feel like it asks too much of that from the audience.
Don’t get me wrong, though. I much prefer to have some unanswered questions than to have every tiny detail shoved down my throat like a lot of films do, so as I said, it’s a flaw, but it isn’t like this film is terribly written.
How’s the Cinematography?
I really liked the feel of this movie. This film looked like a western. It was very much stylized like a Slow West or Hell or High Water. I love that gritty feel without it being some dark and gloomy film. The choices in cinematography in this film I think were very effective and definitely the right choices.
The one gripe I have with the cinematography for this film was that, in some, NOT ALL but some, of the fight sequences, the camera was so all over the place that it kind of felt like cheating to cover up the actual fight choreography. It wasn’t consistent, there were plenty of great fight sequences where that wasn’t an issue, but there were definitely some scenes where the ‘let’s make this chaotic!’ camera choices made it a little too chaotic and kind of annoyed me.
(That said, I do have to admit, the auditorium was SUPER FULL so we were way closer to the screen than I like to sit, so maybe I was just too close to the screen in some of the faster scenes? I don’t THINK so, but that is one thing I have to confess in case maybe I’m just wrong)
Is It Worth Watching?
Abso-fucking-lutely. I won’t go as far as my fifteen-year-old brother did and say its, “one of the best movies ever!” but it is really worth watching. Even if you don’t generally watch X-Men films or Wolverine films or even just comic book films, this is a film worth seeing as long as you enjoy dramas with action. It’s intriguing, it’s believable which sounds crazy to say about a comic book film, it’s gripping, it’s dramatic, and it’s got a lot of heart as well.
While I can’t say it’s the first time I’ve cried over a comic book movie, or even over an X-Men (adjacent) movie, none of them ever got me like this one got me. There’s something about this film that gets you deeply invested in these characters, and though you feel from the tone from the beginning that it’s going to end just how it ends, it doesn’t take away from the emotions. There’s no surprise twist that catches you unaware, there’s just a solid character arc for all the characters involved that grabs hold of you and sucks you in and when what happens happens, it is absolutely devastating. There’s a single line that you’ll know when you see it that completely and utterly destroys every person in the auditorium, and I’m talking the man sitting next to me was sobbing into his popcorn, it was so utterly gut wrenching in the most moving and beautiful way.
If you want a true mark of how worth watching this film is, my brother, sister, and I didn’t finish our popcorn or drinks during this film. We usually have that stuff finished halfway into a film, and yet all of us were so invested in the movie we just forgot to eat and drink. It may not be a perfect film, and it may not even be amazing to you, but it’s definitely one that will draw you in for a good, solid story.
My Rating: 8/10