Logan is great. I mean it. I got teary-eyed once. I may have outright cried twice. And–I’ll level with you–I can’t really think of any other superhero movies that have managed that before (except for Big Hero Six and that’s Big Hero Six, so c’mon). But in case you don’t think a cry-count counts as a valid justification… well, I can understand that. This is a blog primarily infested with poetry, after all, and we poets have a reputation for tears.
First off, this film is dripping with death. And I don’t mean just in a kill-count kind of way (although there’s that too). For the squeamish souls out there, know that Logan has definitely taken a page from 2016’s Deadpool when it comes to the old ultra-violence. That said, where Deadpool revels in the kills, Logan endeavors to make you feel the weight of them and the toll it has taken on the film’s titular character. That’s nothing new for our friend Wolverine, I know, but this time there are no goofy mutants, fate of the world stakes, or CGI spectacles for the human aspect of the film to compete with, and it lets Logan shine as a kind of character that would give most contemporary literary works a run for their money.
Near the beginning of the film, we quickly realize that–for some reason–mutants aren’t around anymore. Logan does a great job of using the implicit consequences of that reality to create a unique setting that takes a surprisingly believable world and infusing it with a post-apocalyptic feeling that has been constrained to and hung upon a select few characters, Logan foremost amongst them, as a sort of proverbial albatross. Even while the world around Logan blooms and parties relentlessly, death hangs as an atmospherically inescapable facet of the movie’s goings-on, and the film–I think it’s worth mentioning–tackles the concept with a seriousness that’s hard to do in a genre that has normalized character resurrection and shooed away most real considerations of mortality as unworthy distractions in today’s silver-screen caped-crusades. In many ways, Logan takes the relatability of Disney-Marvel heroes and the attempted brooding of WB-DC’s worlds and brought them together in a way that gives us a sum that equals a fair share more than just the parts involved.
The last time Logan looked this good was in 2013’s The Wolverine, which was also directed by James Mangold–only this time Mangold has a writing credit to his name as well, which I don’t doubt helped push this film into the gem it is.
Beyond all of that, however, the film owes much of its success to many of the subtler choices that it makes. For example, much of the film takes place on the border of the United States and Mexico, and as a consequence of that, the United States itself is framed as a sort of unreliable no-man’s-land between two borders, and Logan uses that fascinatingly but responsibly to its thematic advantage. There are a fair share of similar decisions, but I honestly feel that I’d risk spoiling details that–while small–are still important, because this film has few wasted moments, and it makes sure that every detail counts.
The cast, overall, is brilliant, but the performances from Jackman, Keen, and Stewart are especially remarkable. It’s clear that Jackman has embraced this familiar role with a certain kind of love for the character that–by this point–only he can have, as each moment on the screen feels more and more like the most intimate portrayal of the character we’ve seen to date. Stewart does what he was born to do, and–instead of Professor X–gives us Charles Xavier the flawed and vulnerable (though well-meaning) human being. As for Keen… I’m always a bit nervous when a film with any real level of gravity has a child star in a pivotal role, and as I was unfamiliar with Keen before this, I had no idea what to expect. But she kills it. Her choreography is impressive and beautiful without distracting from the heaviness or overall brutality that the film explores, and–once you get readily lost in this work–it becomes really hard to understate just how much this film succeeds just as much because of her capability as a young actor it does thanks to Jackman, Stewart, and the rest.
While there were a few (mostly minor) elements I was initially uncertain about, even the biggest issues I had were resolved and made meaningful by the film’s close (if not much sooner than that).
If you aren’t an X-Men fan, or a superhero film fan, for that matter, this film will make you feel like you’ve been a diehard lover of Wolverine since you were born.
Actually, on that note, this isn’t a superhero film. It’s just a film. And it does a damn good job at it. Again, it’s much more violent than previous entries, so please do be forewarned about that, but–again again–the responsible heftiness of the film earns that violence without making light of the life-cost it’s necessarily attached to.
By this point this probably goes without saying, but Logan has my full recommendation:
I’m giving it 9.5/10 adamantium-plated claws.
Go see it on the big screen while you can. I know this coming weekend I’m going to make the drive so I can find an IMAX theater to relive it large.