TL;DR – There was a lot of hype for Logan, and it mostly lives up to it, Logan is violent, gory, but also really emotional at times. At the very least this may be the best X-Men universe film they have made so far.
Score – 4.5 out of 5 stars
P.S. There is no after credit scene
The X-Men films have been a real scattershot, from great to trash and everything in between, but after Apocalypse fell flat I came into Logan with a bit of trepidation. As well as being the next X-Men film, Logan is also Hugh Jackman and Patrick Stewart’s last outing, that was a lot of weight to put on a film, and yet they nailed it. Of course one of the things you need to know before going to see Logan is that this is an incredibly violent film, as a movie about a man with knives in his hands probably should be, but unlike previous instalments Logan shows the violence in graphic detail i.e. what would actually happen if you were attacked with someone knives protruding from his hands. One would think the rating would be enough to warn people about this, but from the people around me in the cinema it was a surprise to many, so this is probably not a film to take your kids too. Now I have not read the source comics (Old Man Logan) so I can’t tell you if this is a good adaptation, but what I can tell you is that this is a great film.
So to place Logan in the X-Men timeline, it is set in the future created by X-Men Days of Future Past, however, in the years since there have been no new mutants born and time has taken its toll on those mutants who remain. We open with Wolverine/Logan (Hugh Jackman) a clearly older, greyer but still familiar figure sleeping off booze in his car which he uses to drive people around. Clearly, something is taking a toll on him as physically and mentally he does not seem to be the same confident character that we are used to. Part of this is because he has to care for Charles Xavier/Professor X (Patrick Stewart), who in the years since has deteriorated suffering from seizures. Alone in the world with only Caliban (Stephen Merchant) helping to care for Charles when Logan is away. This is a bleak future for the X-Men and mutants, and for Charles and Logan, and it is made worse when they get found by the powers at be. This stripped back setting really helps ground the film in ways you have not really seen in the series so far, even compared with last year’s really quite good Deadpool. Now as we move forward it is a bit hard to talk about the film without getting into some minor spoilers so please be aware.
Tonally the grounded setting gives Logan a much more brooding feel, which is helped by the first act being a slow burn, you know something is about to happen but they make you wait for it as all the pieces line up. Not only does this brooding feel give you a real sense of foreboding, but it also heightens the emotions. You just can’t help but feel for Charles, the man of immense intellect and power destroyed by his own mind, I just can’t help but see my grandfather in his performance, it is one of Patrick Stewart’s best. The cast is giving their all, everything they can and you can’t help but get hit right in the feels at times.
Now one of the things Logan is going to be known for is the gambit of going for the US R rating. This was a real risk as it could limit its potential box-office performance by limiting its potential audience. So given this gamble, how well does Logan make use of its new rating, very well indeed. The big issue you have to be careful with when you take this step is remembering just because you can do something does not mean you should. There have been a lot of films that have gone down this route and they quickly become gratuitous because there is no reason for the language/violence/nudity etc. in Logan they mostly shy away for that kind of thing, yes it is violent, yes there is a lot of course language, but in most cases it is completely contextual. If you stab someone in the head with a claw there is going to be blood, you would actually expect that, so much so it almost makes the other films feel a bit silly that they did not show the realities of what Logan can do. Part of this is amplified because a lot of the violence is being handed out by a young girl Laura (Dafne Keen), which makes it more brutal in a way, but once again it always feels contextual because she is defending herself. Indeed this use of violence kind of desensitises you to it, as goon after goon gets mowed down, which makes what happens later all the more impactful. However this being said, there was one scene where a bride on her hen’s night flashes Logan her breasts, and that did feel gratuitous, that it was only in there because they could do it. But this is just a small issue in what is a really well-made film.
From a technical standpoint, the action sequences were really quite good, not quite at the John Wick level, but a lot of care and attention has gone into the fight choreography. Throughout the action sequences some of the audience gasped out in surprise as to some of the action beats, I found myself going ‘oh dang’ more than a few times. It also helps that a lot of the fights had a bit more weight to them because Logan is older than he used to be, and this shows in Hugh Jackman’s performance. It was also good to see the differences in style between Logan and Laure, given they both use blades, it would have become quite dull to see them fighting the same way.
While the story does more at a slow place, it was the right pace for the film, just when you think things are starting to drag, bam something happens to move everything forward. Another feature I did quite like was the music, it paid homage to a lot of the old westerns with its arrangement and it really complemented the film. It was also interesting to see that even though there is quite a bit of Spanish was spoken in the film, there were no subtitles, it was a different choice but I think it worked. Also while I may have painted a very bleak picture with the tone of the film, it doesn’t mean there are not some lighter moments, more humorous moments, and touching moments that really help the film. The big thing that carries this film is the actor’s performances and everyone is giving it their all, and while I have mentioned it before it really needs to be said because if the emotional weight was not there then this film would fall apart. You feel with Logan that he is tired, you feel with Charles that he is broken, you feel with Laura that she is hope, and this is what drives the film.
While the plot works, for the most part, there are a couple of big reveals that just get blown by because we need to rush to the next section, and I think a little bit more time spent on some of those sections/revelations would have been better. As well as this, the ending felt like it was set more in say New Mexico than on the Canadian border because that was where it was filmed. Look, there are a couple of other small issues here and there, but they are really nitpicks on what is a very well made film.
Look in the end, even being stuck next to someone who loud talked, brought in hot food, and answered her phone in the middle of the cinema could not interfere with how much I loved Logan, but like for real who does that, put your phone away. Everyone from the actors to the writers, to the directors, to the effects people put everything into this film and it tells. I can highly recommend Logan, it is brutal at times and quite violent, but it is the best X-Men film we have seen so far.
By Brian MacNamara: You can follow Brian on Twitter Here, when he’s not chatting about Movies and TV, he’ll be talking about International Relations, or the Solar System.
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Trailer – Click Here to View (all trailers have heavy spoilers)
Directed by – James Mangold
Screenplay by – Scott Frank, James Mangold & Michael Green
Story by – James Mangold
Based on – Wolverine by Roy Thomas, Len Wein & John Romita, Sr., and Old Man Logan by Mark Millar & Steve McNiven
Music by – Marco Beltrami
Cinematography by – John Mathieson
Starring – Hugh Jackman, Patrick Stewart, Dafne Keen, Richard E. Grant, Boyd Holbrook, Eriq La Salle & Stephen Merchant
Rating – Australia: MA15+; Canada: 18A; NZ: R; UK: 15; USA: R