Review: Logan

Director: James Mangold (Cop Land, Girl Interrupted, Walk the Line, 3:10 to Yuma, The Wolverine)
Screenplay: Michael Green, Scott Frank, James Mangold
Producers: Simon Kinberg, Hutch Parker, Lauren Shuler Donner
Starring: Doris Morgado, Hugh Jackman, Dafne Keen, Boyd Holbrook, Patrick Stewart, Stephen Merchant, Elizabeth Rodriguez, Richard E. Grant
MPAA Rating: R
Running time: 135 min.

 

 

My original posting of this review can be found at Quiet Earth

 


At this point, the superhero genre has devolved into a yearly battle for delivering ever-more bombastic movies. Sometimes they have interesting stories but mostly it’s about big action sequences smashed between some quirky dialog and maybe an inkling of story. Some of these movies are more fun to watch than others but of the comic book adaptations of the last few years, the most interesting work is being done on the small screen – until now.

The marketing suggested that Logan, director James Mangold’s second Wolverine movie, might be in a different class than the rest and this time, the marketing didn’t lie.

This superhero/action/western hybrid unfolds in 2029. In this future, Logan is aging, healing slower than before and caring for Charles Xavier. Their not-so-peaceful living arrangement is up-ended even further when Logan is approached by a woman who wants him to take a little girl named Laura to South Dakota. That meeting sets rolling a whole load of trouble in the form of Donald Pierce, Dr. Rice and an army of mercenaries determined to get their hands on the girl at any cost.

It sounds like a fairly straight forward plot and it is. Logan has all the trappings of a chase movie. What makes it great is the story that Mangold and screenwriters Michael Green (Kings, American Gods) and Scott Frank (The Lookout) embed into the very fiber of the movie. The result is a great story of family, friendship, and sacrifice which happens to include a ridiculous amount of action, violence and a peppering of science-fiction. This is definitely not kid-friendly. Logan is not without a plot hole here and there but none of them are glaringly problematic and quite honestly, they’re more than made up for by the emotional weight of the story.

In part that comes from well-written characters and in part from great performances. Hugh Jackman, making what is likely his final appearance as the character he completely embodied since day one, goes full tilt here delivering a performance that is both physically impressive and emotionally powerful. As far as bad guys go, Boyd Holbrook is as good as they come and he leads a brilliant cast of supporting characters. The real discovery here is relative new-comer Dafne Keen who is wonderfully expressive as Laura.

Mangold takes the story to Texas and Mexico and the setting lends itself well to both to the western themes which permeate through the movie while also becoming a great character of its own.

Logan works because it focuses on story first and the superhero trappings second. In doing so, Mangold has delivered the first comic book movie that reaches well beyond the built-in fandom and appeals to a far wider audience. This is the first superhero movie I full heartedly recommended to my dad.

Is this the future of the comic book movie? Unlikely. Though I wish it was because Logan is, by far, the best comic book/superhero movie in years.
 

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7 Comments on "Review: Logan"

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Andrew James
Admin

I agree with most of what you’ve got down here, Marina. And overall, I liked it. The world they’ve set up – in terms of where the characters are in their lives is great. The darkness of the backstory is bleak and terrifying and the real reason this movie is hard R (besides the obvious gore and “f-words”). I love the look of the movie and the performances are outstanding.

But man the pacing is clunky and the action that is here is mostly boring – ala John Wick 2 – and makes the whole thing feel a lot longer than it is.

***MILDLY SPOILERY***

That final act was super disappointing in terms of action for what they setup. Why are all the children running? It doesn’t really make sense and when the action starts it’s the same shit we’ve seen three other times in this movie. The girl is badass and I loved that, but otherwise I got a little tired of watching stupid guys with guns have blades going through their face over and over and over.

3.5/5

Andrew James
Admin

Ha! Someone on LetterBoxed reviewed it simply,

Children of X-Men

Clever.

Kurt
Guest

I was also let down by LOGAN, while it had all its thematic ducks in a row, the actual plotting was kinda boring. Better suited to its exemplary marketing campaign (posters, trailers) and to riffing on titles of other movies. As Andrew mentioned above:

Children of X-Men.

But also: No Country for Old X-Men, Little Miss Scowlshine, Midnight X-ial,

devolutionary
Guest

Hasn’t hit my theaters yet (surprisingly) but based on your assessments Kurt and Andrew, don’t bother seeing The Wolverine either then. That movie gets by on 2 mostly tempered, balanced acts (especially the Japan setting) and gets completely undone by actiony fan-service in the final act. I remember liking it a fair bit but that’s only in comparison to the brutal X-Men: Origins. Still have no idea how it was rated identical to The Wolverine (IMDB 6.7).

Marina
Guest

Yeah, the 2nd stand alone Wolverine movie is really great for 2/3rds and then totally dies at the end.

I did see “Logan” again on the weekend and it still plays really well on second viewing. The Mexico action sequences looked pretty amazing in IMAX. The only moment that made me groan a little was the “Shane” quotation near the end. It works but is a bit too on-the-nose.

I *highly* recommend the latest episode of Playback with James Mangold. It’s a fantastic interview:

http://variety.com/2017/film/in-contention/playback-podcast-james-mangold-logan-1202001026/

devolutionary
Guest

Thank you kindly, Marina.

Matthew Fabb
Guest

“Is this the future of the comic book movie?”

Superheroes have dominated the comic book industry since about the 1960’s. Plenty of amazing independent comics like Saga also do well, but it continues to be dominated by superheroes. Some writers in the superhero business basically wanted to branch out beyond the typical superhero comic and so they use other genres. Just about any genre you can think of western, noir, sci-fi have been told in the framework of a superhero comic. The fact that the heroes have powers become secondary to the workings of the other genre being used.

I wonder if we might see more of this in superhero movies. Not that the main superhero fighting crime is going to go away, but that perhaps more people might make movies like Logan. Guardians of the Galaxy has been described from many as Star Wars meets superheroes. The source material to go in those directions is certainly there if anyone wants to take it up and run with it as they did with Logan.

I really enjoyed Logan despite seeing what they were going to do story wise a mile away. It has it’s flaws but there’s a still a lot there that I really enjoyed. Also being a father to a very young daughter, I find myself very easily taken in with any father/daughter storyline. I think that is also why I responded so much to Rogue One.

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