Movie Review: Logan (2017)
Warning: This review will not shy away from SPOILERS any more than Logan did for gore. In other words, you kids better watch this movie before reading the rest. Also, under no circumstance ACTUALLY go see it if you really are a kid.
The year is 2029, mutant-kind has all but vanished from the face of the planet, the X-Men are no more, the hero once known as Wolverine is now an aged hobbling alcoholic limo uber driver, hustling for drugs to sedate his former mentor, Charles Xavier/Professor X suffering from a degenerative brain disease, whom he is secretly hoarding in an abandoned smelting factory . So the obvious big question is:
WHAT THE HELL HAPPENED?????????
I have rarely had so many questions for a premise, especially since 2029 isn't that far away. In fact, it's merely 6 years from Fox's equivalent of a "happily ever after" ending that our favorite X-Men deservedly got at the end of Days of Future Past. On the other hand, it's common knowledge that X-Men as a movie franchise has long ripped through the line of "giving a f#*& about continuities", so it's better for the sake of all parties involved, that we treat it as a standalone adventure which just so happens to feature some (by "some" I mean two) familiar faces.
As Hugh Jackman has repeatedly claimed, Logan is his final venture as the titular character, which he has been playing since 2000 throughout 8 movies, including six times as a protagonist and twice in cameo appearances. To further drive the point home, there has never been an X-Men movie that doesn't feature Hugh Jackman as Wolverine for at least 30 seconds. Even in Deadpool, the only X-universe film where Jackman doesn't make a tangible appearance, his sacred presence is prevalent through many playful references.
It's tough to say goodbye to a character that has been with us for so long, but after seeing Logan, I almost wish he sticks to that claim of moving on, because how the hell can there ever be a better sendoff?
If I were to rank all the X-Men movies as I am typing these very words, with Logan fresh in my mind, I would put it on top without a moment's hesitation. But that would be reckless because opinions could so easily be affected by the hype monster, plus the movie is so drastically different from other strongest contenders (X2, First Class, DOFP and Deadpool), it's almost impossible to compare.
What I can say definitively, is that Logan is one of the best superhero or comic-based movies ever made, a statement that carries more weight with each passing month. We live in amazing times, gotta take a moment to appreciate it. But even on that note, Logan still manages to stand out thanks to its groundedness and brutality that seems worlds away from the usual CGI-fests and beams to the sky. So let's get down to the most obvious departure from previous X-Men features, or even standard superhero formula: the R-rated actions.
Which ironically leads to the biggest problem I had with Logan, the actions are TOO good. Wait, how does that make sense? Put it this way, every single scene of Wolverine action that we used to associate with sheer awesomeness, will only be considered "soft" from now on. Logan has spoiled us and ruined these fond memories. Now we need a George Lucas to digitally add bones, gore, limbs on the next blu-ray special editions. When he puts his claws into another man's chest, we want to see the bloodied tips on the other side. It's not necessarily blood that we crave in our twisted minds, but in the end we are dealing with a character with metal claws, so this is how it should have been from the get go.
Incidentally, this may have caused some problems in certain overseas markets without a proper rating system, most notably in Mainland China, aka the second largest market for Hollywood movies, where Logan was notoriously cut down for 14 minutes due to violence. It supposedly led to some hilarious confusions, such as after Logan took the entire injection of enhancement serum, the movie only showed him do a high-profile sprint and then directly cut to the point where the effects are wearing off. Geez, hope you kept a receipt for that one.
Other than Logan and X-23 clawing their way through a lot of brains, action in this movie generally upholds that high level of adrenalized brutality. My favorite has to be the farm fight, where we were introduced to X-23's gloriously feral powers. Logan killed a guy with barbwire attached to the forefront of his limo, after failing to crash through the wires. My guess is that was a moment of realization even for him, that this was not that kind of movie. S**t's getting real! Also limosines don't make good get-away vehicles no matter how rad it may look, try to remember that for your next GTA heist.
As satisfying as it is to see Wolverine finally given his long overdue R-rated movie, where we can bask in the gory actions and hilarious curses (especially when the old cue ball does it), these elements weren't tricks and gimmicks to appease the audience. Okay, maybe they are, but they also did serve a higher purpose in terms of world-building. I'm not talking about "setting up 5 sequels and a shared universe" kind of world-building, though.
I mean establishing a world, together with its rules which will dominate the movie's logic, and its tone which will haunt the characters' decisions, while being a character all by itself. This is a harsh, bleak, desperate, western-style world, in which bones may break, healing may slow down or completely halt, innocent children may perish, and our immortal heroes may die.
Speaking of which, Logan is equally relentless in its emotional gut punches. Kleenex may be required at several points.
The death of Charles was anything but unexpected, but still came as a total surprise. For myself, I thought his death would come when his seizure took over at the hotel. Wouldn't it be tragic if Logan stops the last guy from firing one second too late, or if he took the guy out but the weapon still went off? Yet none of the above happened. He lived to enjoy what he called "the most perfect night".
The farm scene, even though it poses some pacing issues, really allows the characters to shine. As they were enjoying some resemblance of normal family life, we got a glimpse of the Charles and Logan that we knew. So when the twist did come, there was no sign that the heartfelt moment had turned into a nightmare. In a heart-wrenchingly beautiful sequence, Charles spills his guts to Logan, his regrets and horrifying realization, only to find out that it was a very different Logan he was talking to.
What also enhanced the surprise element, was the movie's clever use of perspectives. For a movie titled Logan, we rarely see things develop from other character's point of view. For example, we never see Charles and Caliban alone. We never see Gabriela and Laura alone. We never got to see the hotel being invaded by the Reavers and how the seizure started. So up to that point, our brains were subconsciously trained to expect Logan in the room.
That is smart writing! It's different from what I expected, but that's why those guys are paid to do the screenplay for a hundreds-of-millions property, while I'm struggling not to sound dumb commending their efforts.
And of course Wolverine dies at the end, it's the only way he could ever have peace, which was the focal point of The Wolverine. I have a hard time recalling a more fulfilling, appropriate and perfect-in-every-way end to a character at this caliber. Because we don't always see characters at this caliber killed off, which makes it all the more special.
When Laura cried out "Daddy" and Logan uttered his final line: so that's what it feels like, which is an amazing line by the way, if you weren't at least tearing up on the inside, call the devil for your soul back.
In the end, Logan died knowing that his daughter and other children would be safe, that there is hope yet for a younger generation of mutants. Which, when you think about it, is what Charles was supposed to be about. Obviously he never bothers to say things like "mutants and humans can live together" in the movie, but his excitement, return of sanity, sense of life and responsibility blossomed with the emergence of X-23, in many forms another student, a chance for the future of mutants he always dreamed about and his own redemption.
Logan, on the other hand, was never quite positive on that idealism, being an experimentation at the hands of humans. He stuck with X-Men and the Professor because they were his family and friends. And maybe part of him also regretted that he wasn't able to save his previous family, and had to live with it. By saving his daughter, he rescued both their dreams in a last act of sacrifice.
Now I'm just getting myself sentimental. Yet I cannot deny that the movie gets better the more I think about it.
Hugh Jackman is pulling no punches in this loving final portrayal, giving his arguably best performance in his career (this or Les Mis?). The same cannot be said for Sir Patrick Stuart, but only due to the actor's legendary status. However, it is safe to claim that this is his best performance as Professor X. In truth, these two actors always bring their A-game to the scene, but in Logan they shine ever more brightly because the writing finally allows for it.
Daphne Keen as Laura/X-23 is a revelation, and if they couldn't bring back Hugh Jackman for a much craved Deadpool/Wolverine crossover, a Deadpool/X-23 ultraviolent roadtrip doesn't sound half bad to me.
Also, huge props to the makeup and special effects team. Maybe the CGIs aren't particularly noticable in this movie, but that's exactly why it's so brilliant. Watch Wolverine and professor presented as old, battered, tired, end-of-the-line in the movie, only to be totally surprised when you see any promotional interview featuring the two actors, who look like they can easily ride it for another 20 years.
I can rave on all day, but suffice to say, this is a worthy conclusion for Hugh Jackman's 17-year tenure as Wolverine/Logan/James Howlett/Weapon X/X-24, and a more than worthy finale to the existing story arc, which, through its highs and lows, has proved itself to be something very special.
Twentieth Century Fox and their superhero movies are becoming very difficult to predict, and that's sadly underappreciated. Maybe they are guilty of studio meddling (*cough* Fant4stic), but in terms of taking risks, listening to the fans, owning up to their mistakes, and allowing filmmakers to realize their unique visions, Fox has also stepped further than anyone else.
So take note, studios. MCU, it's okay to raise the stakes and have some finality; DC, dark and mature does NOT mean joyless and humorless; Sony......just give everything back to Marvel and be good.
Final verdict: 9.5/10.
Hope you enjoyed the review, and if you did, here's some more stuff I took notice during the movie, just for the hell of it.
The premise raises many questions, but the movie only gives us bits and pieces to figure out what happened, and left most information ambiguous. That's trusting your audience.
Well shoot, maybe that whole "travel back in time for a better future" thing didn't work out as well as we thought. Guess Magneto was right all along.
We don't know exactly why Logan is aging so rapidly, or why the Adamantium suddenly decides to poison him. Maybe it's the poisoning that led to ageing, or maybe it's the other way around, or perhaps it's the corn syrup messing with his mutant genes, weakening his healing factors and allowing the poisoning to sink in.
"I always know who you are, it's just sometimes I don't recognize you." What a great line!
Poor Gabriela, she must have spent the whole night editing that video, throwing clips here and there, adjusting volumes, recording narrations and everything, so Logan can view it as a pretty professional documentary.
Logan acts like he doesn't give a crap about Caliban, but he raged out to Pierce when he thought the albino tracker was killed. Awwwww, Logan, not as stonehearted as you think you are.
Presumably, 7 X-Men were killed in the Westchester incident, but we have no idea who. I have a hard time believing Jean Grey would be among them if there's any Phoenix Force left.
When the Westchester incident was mentioned on the radio, Xavier was in the van apparently dozing off, but woke up soon afterwards. So maybe he heard...
We don't really need to know why X-23 has foot-claws, but that doesn't stop Xavier from going into full-on professor mode.
Even though DOFP erased the original trilogy timeline, some incidents apparently still happened. Logan still pursued a career as a cage fighter, but perhaps because Xavier knew where to look this time, they picked him up when he was still in training. Also, battle of Liberty Island still happened.
We still don't know what Eric is doing, maybe transforming Canada into some sort of Genosha? Why else would the kids be safe in Canada?
Also, did this movie drag us from the Mexican border all the way to the Canadian border?
It kinda was Charles's fault that the family died, since he was the one who accepted their invitation against Logan's better judgment.
Xavier's funeral in The Last Stand was better, just saying...
Bradley from X-Men Origins got a nod, but not Cyclops, Storm, Beast, Rogue or anyone you actually care about.
Between mass-destructive psychic powers, Logan slowly clawing through the effects of said psychic powers, Xavier's death and a "cure" for mutants, this movie shares more similarities with The Last Stand than you'd like to admit.
We never got to know much about Dr. Xander Rice, but it's very clear that he's an asshole.
Logan said earlier that he didn't like guns, but in the end he used a pistol to shoot Dr. Rice and injure Donald Pierce. Hey, if Batman can use them...
Between the bleak landscape, choo-choo, road trip, gambling (kinda, there's a casino), Shane, horses, water gang, quick-draw, this movie shares more similarities with westerns than you'd....you know what, westerns are awesome. Star Wars movies are space westerns.
Adamantium bullets shouldn't be able to kill X-24 for good, especially when the bullet is obviously not in his brain anymore. Besides, if they made one Wolverine clone, obviously they could make an infinite amount. Is Logan turning into a Terminator model?
If only the kids had remembered 10 minutes sooner that they had super powers, not to mention they were trained living weapons, maybe Wolverine wouldn't have been killed by a tree. You brats!
The "X" as his tombstone is nice and metaphorical for a final shot, but that X is tipping over at the first breeze.
And what an amazing post-credits scene featuring Wolverine's claws reaching out of the rock pile, climbing out of the tomb, and transforming into Jennifer Lawrence.