Well, just like in 2016 my official movie watching year starts in March with a superhero movie.
Thankfully Logan proves not to be a freshly squeezed pile of pig shit like Batman v Superman however, and hopefully it bodes well for the rest of the year.
Even the ageless Wolverine has to succumb to the ticking of the clock, as his life of violence catches up with him he is given one more chance at redemption.
First things first, and i’m glad the film makers addressed this quite literally first; i’m very glad that this movie is deserving of an R rating. In The Wolverine with its PG-13 rating the violence felt gutted, and it called attention to itself by trying to hide the brutality of the character’s gifts with editing and blocking. Here in Logan right from the get go we’re treated to absolute savagery, and it’s refreshing to see in this day and age of audience friendly superhero movies (in fairness i didn’t see Deadpool, and i never will). As a result the fighting is free from the usual nauseating shaky cam garbage that infests today’s action films, and it has impact all on its own without aid of cheap tricks.
The violence also stands for more than just spectacle, and serves as a counter point and source to Logan’s self loathing. As just about anyone he has killed in his long years was likely killed intimately and gruesomely with this hands.
I was definitely worried early on about the movie being completely focused on Logan’s self loathing, as it’s honestly an old and tired hat for the character to wear at this point. I’ve read and seen story after story where the character is consumed with self hate; where he faces an internal struggle and some sort of redemption or escape from it by the end, only to be in the exact same position in the next story. This is incredibly tedious, and it makes his continuity a burden to carry and tedious to watch as it makes it clear the various writers who have taken on the character have no idea what to do with him other than have him hating himself.
Logan‘s lens is definitely focused on the character’s contempt for himself, but through narrative beats, performances, and just the right elements of group dynamics it manages to make it a refreshing take and poignant final chapter for the Wolverine’s final big screen story.
Narratively i expected there to be flashbacks to the past but they’re surprisingly absent here in Logan, and that focuses the story in the here and now and allows the pace to keep in tow Logan’s misery; making his feelings a part of the setting as opposed to his one and only driving force. Hugh Jackman gives the role his absolute all, physically and emotionally he plays his Logan as a man facing the repercussions of a life of violence. Barely managing his steps with slumped shoulders, poor health, and clearly wondering how and why he gets out of bed at all.
Like any good character study the movie uses its group dynamics to represent aspects of Logan’s character, with Xaiver serving as his noisome conscience, Laura/X-23 serving as a his lost innocence and youth, and X-24 being everything he thinks he is and everything he hates about himself. All of these elements converge to make Logan’s final words both poignant in the moment and a perfect summation on his character on reflection.
There’s very little harsh criticisms that i have to aim at Logan, i suspect considering the lack of flashbacks or expository dialog about what happened to the mutants (the X-Men in particular), and why the world and the characters are the way they are might leave some viewers unsatisfied. This is especially puzzling considering the happy ending awarded to the X-Men at the end of Days of Future Past, as the movie is more concerned in building a setting for Logan’s final run than universe building (thankfully).
Lastly the movie doesn’t escape the problems all comic book stories face with their never-ending narratives; the aforementioned ending to Days of Future Past is thrown away with all of the X-Men and mutant kind supposedly hunted down and killed, as are all the lessons imparted by The Wolverine about self acceptance as Logan finds himself back to square one. Thankfully Logan‘s narrative is so strong it supersedes those previous stories, however it undeniably comes at the expense of those other narratives.
Logan ultimately is as satisfying a Wolverine story that i could ask for, it’s violent, it’s poignant, and it delivers a near perfect ending and summation to the character that i think is possible.
It’s so good that i have no desire to see or read another story about the Wolverine, which is exactly what a good ending should do. As any other stories that will inevitably come in the future will be at the expense of this one, and i’d rather they didn’t.
OUT OF FIVE
ps. though i do have to grant that James Mangold led up to the ending of Logan with a bit of dialog in The Wolverine