Logan (2017)
Logan (2017)

Genre: Drama and Superhero Running Time: 2 hrs. 15 min.

Release Date: March 3rd, 2017 MPAA Rating: R

Director: James Mangold Actors: Hugh Jackman, Patrick Stewart, Dafne Keen, Boyd Holbrook, Stephen Merchant, Richard E. Grant, Elizabeth Rodriguez

 


 

M

ore grizzled and withered than ever (until he takes off his shirt, that is), James Howlett (Hugh Jackman) is starting to resemble an elderly Mel Gibson. Here, he’s first seen drunkenly awaking in the back seat of his limo as thugs attempt to steal the hubcaps from the vehicle. Cursing, he reluctantly begins to fight back (taking a heavy bruising in the process), eventually unleashing a flurry of razor-sharp claws and severed limbs, with extra brutal gashes and punctures that contribute to the film’s R-rating. His days of helping people are long gone; instead, he’s just trying to get by, surviving in the wake of drugs and booze and wounds that don’t seem to heal as rapidly as before.

With something of a postapocalyptic feel in the waning years of faded superheroes, everyone trudges through “Logan” as if in a perpetual state of exhaustion. It’s 2029, and the world hasn’t turned futuristic at all (if anything, it’s more desolate and decrepit, hinting at the deterioration of a Mad Max dystopia); technology has apparently stalled, and the man who once was revered as Wolverine is physically and psychologically beaten and broken. His longtime mentor Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart) is essentially senile, constantly sedated, and locked away in an overturned water tower on the Texas-Mexico border. The rusted metal dulls the effect of his regular seizures, which are able to paralyze anyone who gets too close, including the only other mutant around, Caliban (Stephen Merchant), a self-proclaimed “glorified truffle pig” albino who can sense the presence of other mutants, even though he’s one of the very last of his kind. Thanks to continued biological experimentations, a new mutant hasn’t been born in over 25 years.

Into this existence of bitterness and regret and general disrepair comes a young girl, Laura (Dafne Keen), who is taken in by Xavier when temporary guardian Gabriela Lopez (Elizabeth Rodriguez) is hunted down by Dr. Rice (Richard E. Grant) and his goon Donald (Boyd Holbrook), who are out to recapture the children they’ve been manufacturing in the labs of secretive company Transigen. She’s as volatile and angry as Howlett, with her own set of Adamantium claws, but she doesn’t share the knotty masses of scars that spiral across his torso. The two are quite a pair, uneasily trying to thwart the father/daughter relationship that unavoidably forms between them. But the grittiness and the rancor permeating every interaction is a tough sell; this is definitely not what many audiences will come to expect from a superhero movie.

In fact, the most incongruous factor in “Logan” is the presence of superpowers. Were it not for some brief moments with levitation and other minor elements of the supernatural, the entire picture could have been a straightforward thriller, in the vein of “Leon the Professional” or “Man on Fire or “True Grit,” wherein a vengeful soldier protects a fragile yet feisty ward. Some of the best scenes occur in seconds of calm, as the grounded drama of a quiet farming family help to infuse some humanity into the cowed underdogs. But then writer/director James Mangold goes too far with the “Shane” references and the pitch-blackness, dashing aside artistic subtlety for repetitive footage and unemotional claw-skirmishes, eventually deteriorating along the path of last year’s “Midnight Special.”

It doesn’t help that the villain is ridiculous, especially as he manages invincibility in the face of Wolverine’s inseparable weaponry, or that Jackman is doubly used as yet another uninspired, genetically manipulated pawn. Fortunately, the sullen tone – when handled properly – generates some pulse-pounding tragedies, though some of these even wander too close to the realm of cruel or mean-spirited. The fun of the formerly colorful X-Men is unyieldingly replaced with darkness and graphic violence, which is rarely as rewarding as it is unnecessary. Like an old Terminator, James pushes onward, occasionally stopping for some mending or unhurried brooding, alternating his ferocious fighting with painful reflection. The end result is like Sam Peckinpah’s misanthropic vision of heroes – vulgar and severe and savage, engaging in bloodshed that could only be deemed heroic because the instigators are more exaggeratedly evil and relentless. In this way, it’s perhaps most comparable to “Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia.” Still, it’s difficult not to enjoy the surrogate family dynamic between the mostly mute girl, the cynical survivor, and the wheelchair-bound moral compass, but it could have all been more potent and meaningful if the frigid, unfriendly neo-Western setting wasn’t stymied by the existence of telepathic and telekinetic mutants.

– Mike Massie

  • 6/10


The X-Men Franchise


X-Men (2000)

X2: X-Men United (2003)

X-Men: The Last Stand (2006)

X-Men Origins: Wolverine (2009)

X-Men: First Class (2011)

The Wolverine (2013)

X-Men: Days of Future Past (2014)

Deadpool (2016)

X-Men: Apocalypse (2016)

Logan (2017)

Deadpool 2 (2018)

Dark Phoenix (2019)