Movie Review: Logan (Lights, Camera, Action!)

By Leo Epema 22.04.2017 4

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Logan (UK Rating: 15)

From director James Mangold (3:10 to Yuma, Walk the Line) comes Logan, a movie about the man behind the superhero known as Wolverine from the X-Men team. It stars Hugh Jackman (X-Men, Les Misérables), Patrick Stewart (X-Men, Star Trek: The Next Generation), Dafne Keen (The Refugees), Boyd Holbrook (Milk, Narcos), and Stephen Merchant (Hot Fuzz), among others. Such an all-star cast promises a lot, but does Logan deliver? Is it the emotional send-off people were looking for with a strong focus on Logan, and if it has issues, where do they lie?

Logan starts off with an adrenaline-pumping intro that perfectly illustrates the situation: Logan no longer heals as well as he once did, and his issues extend to his emotional state. The glory days are over, and the days of the mutants are over - they are somehow nearing extinction. Logan is no longer connected to anyone: the X-Men were the only family he had, although he might try to deny it. He plays the role of a limo driver, looking at his clients through his rear view mirror begrudgingly, but at the same time envying their purity and carefree lives.

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All of this is even intertwined with a sense that mutants and humanity just don't go together, even though it wasn't the humans who caused Logan's problems. No, it's more about anger at being a mutant, and how their human failings, combined with that mutanthood, cause so many problems. This last theme could have been expanded upon more, as the humans vs. mutants theme has been the fundamental idea behind the X-Men movies, but it's satisfying nonetheless. The opening scene is very slightly funny, as well. Without spoiling anything, it should be said that it's not so much that it gets in the way of the dramatic storytelling. In fact, it fits the movie's atmosphere of hopelessness.

Logan lives with the mutant Caliban in a kind of dysfunctional spousal relationship, with Logan as the typical badass sneering at others' complaints about their problems. Suffice it to say, he doesn't do that because he's so tough. Every day is a bad day, he says, trying to rationalise it.
The scene introducing Charles Xavier (played excellently poignantly and fatherly by Sir Patrick Stewart) is unfortunately a bit vague, with it being unclear if his medication causes some issues, or that it's simply due to his age or lack of medication. When he immediately starts talking and thinking lucidly after getting a shot, with Logan responding with ''so now you know who I am, huh?'' it makes you think Xavier was simply doing an act. It wasn't quite clear if that was the case or not.

On the topic of Xavier, he serves as Logan's conscience, often telling him the truth and hoping that Logan is willing to face it. This relationship makes it very clear that Logan and Xavier have a powerful bond, and that fact is strengthened with a very emotional scene later in the film. Regardless, viewers will wish Logan and Xavier had one or two more friendly moments. Instead, Logan is placed in a fairly long-winded scene with a character he had just met, taking precious time away from interaction between the lead characters. At the same time, the fact that the characters don't get to say everything they want to, or need to say, adds to the movie's sad tone. It's just not executed very well.


 
After the Xavier intro, an intro comes showing the mutant child Laura's powers. She is portrayed by Dafne Keen, in a strong feature film debut. The scene is powerful and graphic, with it becoming clear just what Laura's personality is, too. It won't be spoiling anything to say that she is much like Logan once was - an animal that still needs to learn to show some humanity. Her character development, however, is a bit lacklustre in that she never really learns how to become more civilised or loving, but at some point in the movie, she just suddenly is. This is a child that wasn't raised, never learning to play well with others, never going through the stage of learning how to develop any relationships (which should be done by the age of three), and yet she shows moments of caring deeply for others, people she has only just met, such as Xavier. It just doesn't make much sense, especially considering not much happens between the characters other than that they have a rather unpleasant road trip.

Laura is the main plot progresser. An evil bio-engineering firm, called Alkali-Transigen, which tries to manufacture and manipulate mutants, is after her, and it will stop at nothing to get her back to its facility. She, no doubt, has displayed her gruesome skills before, prior to being saved by an ex-employee of the company. She now wishes to be escorted by Xavier and Logan to Eden, a safe haven for mutants in North Dakota.

Dafne Keen is great at coming across as aggressive, but there is a sense of tension missing from her portrayal. If the outside world is alien to her, anyone would think she would respond to the unknown with a bit more trepidation, not only blind rage. Keen often puts on a specific kind of expression, while each situation should demand a different intensity of anger. She just seems too comfortable in the world she's thrust into.

It could be that the movie's problem is that it has too many lead characters, which spreads out the focus too much between all of them rather than allowing them to bond strongly. Nonetheless, the movie's emotional moments are tear-jerking, relying mostly on showing the bond between Xavier and Logan, and showing Logan's flaws and how he himself hates them and hates how he was made to be Wolverine. The character of Laura gets wedged in-between a bit unsatisfyingly, and it makes something said in the final scene feel a bit contrived.

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With all that said, though, in the end Logan is a movie about… Logan. Hugh Jackman does an amazing job as a more emotional Wolverine, while at the same time staying true to his tough guy persona. The way Jackman looks in fear and with immense hatred at his enemy when he first meets him is perfect. His voice hits all the right tones and he doesn't pull any punches. The action is wince-inducing most of the time, as well as very up-close and personal, which fits the overall tone perfectly. However, in one scene it looks a bit preoccupied with showing Wolverine's power rather than his speed and ferocity.

8/10
Rated 8 out of 10

Great - Silver Award

Rated 8 out of 10
Logan probably isn't the perfect movie to most people, not if they are looking for amazing character development and interaction. Logan and Laura's relationship is a bit underexposed, with their relationship evolving little, but the moments they have are endearing. Logan's problems are explored well, and the tragic relationship between Xavier and him runs through the entire movie. There are one or two scenes that go on for too long and focus on extraneous characters, rendering the leads slightly shallow, hurting the climax. The danger also ebbs away too much sometimes, which is a missed opportunity for some more emotional interludes. Nonetheless, the emotional moments between the main leads have enough impact to transcend the flaws. Overall, though, Logan is an excellent final chapter to Wolverine's story. You could not wish for much more than this, and any fan of Jackman and Wolverine will love it.
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Comments

Totally agree on this one - it's a highly enjoyable film, but there are a few key things missing in it, which makes me wonder if it was cut before release. It wouldn't surprise me if a special edition release comes out on DVD, a bit like the extra 15 or so minutes added to the last X-Men movie when that came out on DVD... Batman vs. Superman was also another where it suffered from cuts in its cinema version.

There are just parts of Logan that do indeed lack some explanation, and I'm really unsure about the little girl actress...either her part wasn't written particularly well, or she just didn't fully 'get' her role at times. Still, very impressive entertainment overall...and, I won't spoil the ending, but I do wonder if there will be some way to convince Hugh Jackman to play the role again in the future.

Adam Riley [ Operations Director :: Senior Editor :: Cubed3 Limited ]
Word of Adam | Voice123 Profile | AdamC3 on Twitter

It definitely feels more like a movie that could've been about 15 or even 30 minutes longer. I was actually surprised when I saw it was two hours and 21 minutes long, since it felt like a two-hour movie at most. I'd love to see a director's cut of this - somehow, I get the sense that something happened in between some of the final scenes, which led to Laura and Logan bonding more. That last bit is just a hunch, though.

It's possible Dafne Keen was focusing a little bit too much on being a kind of new-world Wolverine like the one seen in movies like X2 and the more action-heavy instalments, but that may very well have been the way the director wanted her to play Laura. I see great things in her future, honestly. The parts she excelled at were the parts in which Laura wasn't the fierce animal, but the human.

Unfortunately, I think this is the last time Jackman has played Wolverine. He said he wanted to retire and that Logan was the movie to finish the story. If he's going to be cast again, it'd be yet another 'old man Logan' type of thing, and I honestly think there are other mutants who deserve a director to give them the spotlight too.

I listed quite a lot of negatives in my review, but I hope my appreciation of the positives comes through... I tend to focus on the negatives a lot when a movie is this good! I guess the more light there is, the more the shadows stick out, you know? I absolutely loved a key scene near the last third or so, involving Xavier. The way it was shot, Jackman's emotional portrayal, it's something I haven't seen before in any prior X-Men movies. Excellent stuff.

 

Did you see this article on Gamespot? I wonder if Fox and Marvel could indeed come to an agreement after a few years. Having Wolverine with the Avengers would be rather cool.

By the way, are you talking about the scene in the hotel room of the casino? If so, yes, that was a very powerful scene indeed!

Adam Riley [ Operations Director :: Senior Editor :: Cubed3 Limited ]
Word of Adam | Voice123 Profile | AdamC3 on Twitter

Aah yeah, I heard about that. If they could still make a deal, that'd be great, but it sounds like Jackman thinks he can't come back now that this movie's been shot.

Actually, I meant another scene with a truck standing still somewhere, a place with water... you probably know what I mean Smilie I honestly wasn't expecting that kind of emotion. That said, the ending scene of the casino part was powerful too, I just love Patrick Stewart's acting in this - all ranges of it. Not sure who's better, Jackman or Stewart. I guess you can't compare greatness on that level.

 

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