Under Fire: Logan

Logan is the X-men film fans have been waiting for since the year 2000. Sure, the first film in the franchise is what paved the way for superhero flicks today, but Logan takes off the kid gloves, making what I genuinely believe to be the best comic book film to date. Logan is Hugh Jackman and Patrick Stewart’s swan song to the beloved characters they debuted back in 2000. This is a spoiler free review, so fear not – I will try my hardest not to ruin the film for you.

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Wolverine’s on screen evolution. Source: GIPHY

Logan is a (very) loose live adaptation of the Wolverine comic, ‘Old Man Logan’. I say loosely as all it takes from that comic is Wolverine has aged, and it’s kind of like a buddy story. Logan is set in the not-so-distant future of 2029. It does draw influences from other comics, but that would be spoiling things. This world is very different to the ones that we have seen built by previous films in the franchise. Nearly all mutants have vanished, with exception of a handful. Logan is beaten down, old, and has no fucks to give. He spends his days driving a limo and caring for a frail and mentally deteriorating Professor Xavier, with some help from Stephen Merchant as Caliban. My one issue with Caliban was that he was just kind of there with no backstory. Those unfamiliar with the mutant tracker may be confused to his purpose. That said, a backstory wasn’t necessary as the focal points of this film are the relationships between Logan, Laura (X-23), and Professor X.

After 17 years of this franchise I thought I had seen the X-men at its best (and of course at its worst), but the performances from the cast are astounding. Patrick Stewart reprises his as Charles, and I gotta say, it is Stewart at his best. No longer is Charles this larger than life figure we have seen him as before. Rather, Professor X is now a shell of his former self. Stewart finally adds some real depth to the character – humanising him, making him vulnerable.

Old Man X. Credit: 20th Century Fox

The chemistry between Jackman and Stewart is truly beautiful, as this father-son dynamic are formed between the two. Stephen Merchant also provides a solid performance with his portrayal as Caliban, who helps Logan care for the what is left of Charles Xavier. Narcos star Boyd Holbrook joins the cast as Donald Pierce. This version of Pierce is a security officer tasked with retrieving young Laura from Logan. Holbrook’s performance is enjoyable as the lead antagonists of the film, but doesn’t present the same feeling of extreme danger like former adversaries. However, this incarnation of Donald Pierce serves a purpose – to keep the plot moving. Though he is no Dark Phoenix, Holbrook’s Pierce is definitely menacing.

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Here come dat Boyd. Source: GIPHY

Dafne Keen brings fan favorited, X-23 to life, and she absolutely nails it! When first introduced, Laura has very little dialogue. But her actions, her body movements, Hell even just the way she looks at things! It was all just so powerful. I was truly blown away at the chemistry these characters shared on screen. And speaking of performances, we should probably talk about Hugh Jackman. Old Hugh must be extremely proud of his efforts, as it is some of the finest acting I have ever seen from him. Wolverine is always been presented as this near immortal being. Sure, in the past he has had his arse handed to him (usually around act three) but he lives to tell the tale. This time Jackman’s Logan is not so indestructible. His healing factor is diminished, his friends are gone, and he is just so damn tired of fighting. Jackman manages to convey this on screen perfectly. He is worn down both mentally and physically, and even minor things, such as a limp in his walk, are consistent throughout the film. Another noteworthy achievement for this movie is the use of sound. The score fits perfectly for some of the film’s heavier moments, but this praise extends to sound effects too. In various scenes the execution of sound, or lack of, was used perfectly to really add depth to what was happening on screen.

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Truly captivating performances from Jackman and Keen. Source: GIPHY

What separates this film from the rest of the franchise (aside the Australian MA 15+ rating) is that this is a damn good film before it is a good hero flick. Mangold moves away from the typical themes we see in blockbuster action films, such as big explosions or copious amounts of CGI. Logan was a grounded (well, as grounded as a comic book adaptation can be) film, that was more focused on relationships and character development than wacky costumes and zany characters. Questions of continuity around Logan have been raised. Mangold’s Logan has brief nods to films of X-men past, but it’s stance in the timeline is somewhat blurred. But honestly? Given the quality of films past I think it’s a good thing that there is no direct tie to the franchise. It works as a standalone film that doesn’t require you to watch the entire back catalogue to enjoy it.

Believe it or not, I wrote this article as objectively as I could. Yes, the film has its flaws, mainly around some obvious unanswered questions which I can’t explore without going into spoiler territory. But I am of two minds. Though these unanswered questions seem like an oversight, I think it could also emphasise that this is Logan’s story – no one else’s. It is a focus on Logan as a man, as a friend and as a hero. However, a few extra lines of dialogue could have fixed this issue too. Perhaps this will be fixed in an extended cut.

Overall, this is the superhero movie we needed. It isn’t patronising and It deals with some serious and heavy themes. Though it has some dark overtones there are rays of light,  reminding you that life is worth protecting.  And there is something extremely satisfying seeing Wolverine deliver absolute bloody carnage to his foes. As I already stated, Logan is a good movie first and a good hero film second. I would recommend this movie to any lover of action, drama, and of course comics.

Until next time, SNIKT SNIKT!