Logan Review: A Dark, Violent Drama About the Most Famous Mutant
Logan was not something that many people expected to be great upon announcement, especially given its lackluster title. However, after the first trailer debuted the narrative began to change, and now I can confidently tell you that Logan is not only the perfect send off to Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine, it is one of the best comic book films ever created.
Logan is unlike any X-Men film that has preceded it. Where Deadpool was funny, Logan is grim, where Days of Future Past was fantastical Logan is restrained. It is the most personal, and heart wrenching superhero film that I have ever seen. No other film in this genre has struck me quite the way Logan has, and that is because very few comic book films are like it. There is not an A.I. threatening to destroy the world, nor is there an unstoppable alien monster. Instead, we follow aging men as they struggle to transport a young girl to safety. No skyscrapers are toppled, no armies are burned, and no wormholes tear apart the skies.
Logan centers on Wolverine, long after the events of past X-Men films. He is aging and severely weakened, so much so that a simple gunshot will cause him a great amount of pain. But not only is Logan physically inferior, he is an emotional and mental shadow of what he was. Instead of combating Magneto to save humanity, he is living on an abandoned spot in the desert while occupying a low-paying night job.
When the mysterious girl first appears on his doorstep, he wants nothing more than for her to disappear from his life. As miserable as Logan is, he dreads action even more.
The broken characters and desolate settings present dystopian and tragic edge to Logan. The future seems grim and damaged, even if it is not apocalyptic. And Wolverine’s revealed fate is nothing short of heartbreaking, a portrayal Jackman tackles with masterful skill. Seeing the near unstoppable X-Men reduced to a powerless drunk is difficult to watch, but the film subjects us to it all the same. This film is unafraid to depress or upset its audience, and considering the soft edge of Doctor Strange and Suicide Squad, that is something that must be commended.
Having seen the film, it is easy to understand why it needed to be rated R. The foreboding world crafted in Logan would not have been possible without the frequent swearing and intense violence. It presents an ugly and dark story about the decayed life of its titular character, and while this could have been accomplished with a PG-13 rating, the film’s ability to show a far darker side of life aids its storytelling exponentially.
Gratefully, the violence aids the film’s storytelling as well, and the action is absolutely phenomenal in and of itself. The exceptional skill of the director can be seen in each action scene. Logan does not have access to the full arsenal of X-Men abilities, all it can work with are claws. This lack of resources turned out to be a blessing in disguise, because it forced the cast and crew to get creative and become attentive. Rather than throwing hundreds of CGI objects at the screen as in X-Men: Apocalypse, Logan delivers raw and gritty action that puts the audience on the edge of its seat.
I am an avid defender of CGI (when it is used correctly) but it was wonderful to see a film tell an exciting story without resorting to world-wide destruction.
Although Logan focuses its efforts on ending Wolverine’s story, its small cast of characters hold their own against Hugh Jackman’s final performance as the character. None of them feel empty or hollow, in fact, all of them are as damaged and broken as Logan himself. So much so, that Charles Xavier’s revealed fate may be even darker than Logan’s.
The mysterious girl (named Laura) was a troubling addition upon first glance. Given how awful child actors can be it, was surprising to see the young actress, Dafne Keen, deliver a great performance.
Logan’s surprising quality and stellar marketing campaign bring to mind a recent hit: Deadpool. On the surface, Deadpool and Logan are polar opposites: one is a comedy, one is a drama, one is hilarious, and one is poignant. But once you examine them a little closer, you will find glaring similarities.
Back in 2000, X-Men was the first major team superhero film released in cinemas, and it opened the doors for all sorts of superhero films like Spider-Man in 2002 and even The Avengers in 2012 . But in 2016, X-Men: Apocalypse found itself on the losing end of the superhero revolution. It struggled to keep up with the ideas in other superhero films, and compensated by presenting an absurd scale of action while offering a barrage of characters. I enjoyed the film, but compared to Doctor Strange, Captain America: Civil War, and Deadpool, it felt antiquated.
Deadpool, on the other hand, was completely different from other superhero films at the time. It was raunchy, dark, and violent. It garnered strong reviews and grossed 783 million dollars, while costing only 58 million to produce.
X-Men: Apocalypse cost 178 million dollars to produce, yet it only grossed 543 million dollars. The rated R territory seems to be where the X-Men franchise is heading, and if it keeps producing masterpieces like Logan, I will have little reason to complain.