Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Logan Review

Director: James Mangold
Cast Headliners: Hugh Jackman, Patrick Stewart, Dafne Keen
Original Release Date: March 3rd, 2017

The character of Wolverine has had quite a journey through the X-men franchise. He's been the protagonist for awhile and the main point of view into this world of mutants. He's been a cameo appearance, or two, in various levels of importance. He's had good spinoffs, he's had bad spinoffs. Throughout it all Hugh Jackman has been an iconic and mostly great take on the Marvel comics 'bub legend. In his central starring role it is with extra emotional attachment that Logan himself in... Logan signals what Jackman has proclaimed to be his last ever take on the character. The end of the old X-men timeline and cast, as it were. It goes out with an incredible bow.
The year is 2029, farther future than any X-men film prior. Now old man James Howlett, aka the titular Logan, aka Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) lives in the timeline that has seen no Sentinels pop-up but also dire in its own ways. He and his peers are the very last mutants in a world where they are not entirely hated but moreso forgotten and faded. Wolverine works as a ride service driver by day, and occasionally uses his (slowing-down) metal claw and healing abilities by night. The glory days of his life as a superhero, and even his life in general, are long gone. He crosses the border between Texas and Mexico to visit an even older and frailer Professor “X” Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart back again) who has fits of dementia and lives with guilt over the fall of the X-Men who are otherwise no longer around. They are accompanied by creepy sun-hating tracker Caliban(Stephen Merchant, replacing the prior actor of this character) as their cook and cleaner in a ramshackle junk factory away from the main metropolis's around. Into this depressing dwindling life comes Gabriella (Elizabeth Rodriguez) urging Logan to help a young girl she is with named Laura or as comics fan may know her X-23(Dafne Keen) who has some metal claws of her own. If this seems like a recipe for high stakes and powerful themes, it is.
What follows is a thrilling , action packed, depressing, emotional, often adventurous epic tale for Wolverine and crew. Director James Mangold did a great job with action and a certain specific period ambience in 2013's secondquel The Wolverine, and he tremendously further refines his craft here. The movie, like Deadpool prior, is R-rated in the USA and equivalent elsewhere and it perfectly uses it. This is the “bubiest”, “snikt-ist”, “slashing”-est incarnation of the character and his film yet. There is tons of blood, brutal de-limbings and injuries, and f-bombs. It makes action that much more visceral , intense,and dark. However it , for the most part, does not use its rating in an immature or excessive way. The themes in the film are very dark and serious and to have its action be filled with equivalent gore or dialogue with stressful cussing only properly suits the goal and effectively at that. Even blood aside, all (frequent in most cases) action is pulse pounding and exciting, with it focusing clearly on character's at near view.
If Jackman were to give anything less than his full efforts the film would not work as well as it does. Wonderfully, he gives what is a contender for his best take on Wolverine and even role in any film of his career. He is fierce, vicious, scary, awesome. He also comes across as wounded, dying, regretful as is expected from his old lifetime specific here. He also can be charming and funny (there is some moments of well done humor at just the right times). Most importantly, he delivers on being distraught, emotional, and caring . His relationship with Laura is as great as his performance, and hers. The other claw wielder Laura, played by Keen, is great. She is a young actress but has talent far beyond her years. The character talks even less than Logan, but is just as fierce with her own aspects of being someone so young forced to go through this edgy world. Her silence and main character arc will remind one of Millie Bobbie Brown in the television show Stranger Things but perhaps even more impressive or stoic.
To praise Jackman's tribute to his character is to also say the same care was given to performing and sending off the character of Professor X. Stewart is so so great, as he often has been. One will often laugh, be inspired, and feel bad for the old professor. The treatment of him is handled from a tough real life place of those who are getting older, and the even further complicated factor when that person is a powerful psychic superhero wizard. The relationship between he and Logan is just as great and even more interesting than it was in the original few X-men films. Together Xavier, Wolverine, and Laura make a great bunch of characters who play off each other in the epic bloody journey. Merchant's Caliban is part of that core crew as well, although he is mainly reserved for a funny small wisecrack or two or being abused by the enemies without leaving much of other impressions.
The enemy forces of this film may offer fearsome , bullet and blood laden action scenes. Otherwise they are not that over-lackluster but do not overly impress more than “average”. Donald Pearce (Boyd Holbrook) comes off as a bad man, with a kind of sickly charm but does not good enough screen time with Logan to deliver on that as he spends much time shouting orders and moving between locations. His superior Dr.Zander Rice(Richard E Grant) seems to have graduated from “Geneic Evil Scientist Movie Villian Camp 101” with nothing else to say. The other henhmen are generic mooks to be sliced up by the claw-wielders but that's as they should be. There's technically another main villian as well who needs to be seen but their appearance is, although fearsome and fitting, a bit silly in concept as well.
The action, deep getting-older-themes, and darkness set Logan apart from both other X-men films and most superhero genre films at all around today. There is also thematically a difference. There's significant post-apocalyptic and Western influences on the film stylistically, from the beautiful landscape shots to the music. Its pared down, its gritty but its also classic. Old-school and restrained. A clever viewer will notice the use of cowboy imagery and referenced film clips within the film. Wolverine is that classic story of an old sherrif in a changed town, delivered for the most part effectively (despite its inspirations on the journey, some parts in the middle of the quest slow too much down) via the lense of a world of mind powers and metal claws.

The stakes are high as to how they could send off this character. They for the most part highly succeed with the bloodiest action yet, the deepest emotional themes yet, and the most personal stakes yet. If this is the end of the ride for Hugh Jackman and Patrick Stewart as they say, it's one we won't forget. The ending will leave one pondering incredibly deep things and reaching for the tissues especially if they ar a longtime fan. Yet also, one hopes this is just the beginning for a rebirth of quality. 8.8 out of 10

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