Logan Movie Review
Imagine if somebody made the comic book movie’s answer to The Shootist, and you would likely get something very close to Logan. That’s a statement I mean as both a compliment and a complaint, given how Logan is both a very bold and original movie if you’re looking at it as a comic book movie, and a rather predictable if entertaining one as the latest in a long line of hard-R heroic bloodshed pictures, from Taxi Driver to Leon: The Professional. That said, given the last two Wolverine solo movies, it’s probably a good sign that Logan can be mentioned in the same breath as Taxi Driver at all.
Logan takes place in a dystopian future, where no mutants have been born in a generation, and most of the rest have died off under vague circumstances. Wolverine, now one of the handful left, is sick and starting to show his age, working as a driver to support his drinking and a terminally-ill Professor Xavier.
Both have long since resigned themselves to slow, irrelevant deaths, with the X-Men and mutant-kind ending up as little more than footnotes. At least until they are approached by a woman begging them to help save a young girl with similar powers to Logan, who are both being hunted by ruthless mercenaries. Tasked with purpose the trio set out for one last mission, to give a young girl a future, and give an old man a hero’s end.
What makes Logan interesting, aside from being a very pleasing combination of a science fiction film and a western, is that it owes less to comic books or prior X-Men movies than it does the subgenre of similar “killer’s last rodeo” movies. If you’ve seen any of those types of movies before, ranging from Taxi Driver to The Killer to Leon: The Professional, you know what to expect almost beat by beat, from the jaded protagonist on the verge of giving up, to his bonding with a young girl who helps him find a reason to fight on, to a high body count climax that someone ain’t walking away from. There are a lot of strong points about Logan, but an original plot ain’t one of them. As far as those claiming this is the first comic book movie to hit these familiar beats, well, Eric Draven sends his regards.
A lot of what works or does not work about Logan will depend on how attached you are to Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine, and to a lesser extent, Patrick Stewart’s Professor Xavier, especially as Jackman and Stewart have clearly both poured their souls into this. Jackman especially, who has now played Wolverine nine times in 17 years, gets to take center stage, and give the character some long overdue pathos. Logan and Xavier are like we’ve never seen them before – damaged, tired, and quite often bloodied and beaten, and it’s something to see.
Sadly, aside from Jackman and Stewart getting their last bows, much of the rest of the cast is lacking. I was underwhelmed by Dafne Keen as X-23, who outside of some action scenes, spends the majority of her screen time not saying a word and staring wide-eyed. This is one area I absolutely wish Logan had borrowed more from Taxi Driver or Leon: The Professional, giving us a young scene-stealer ala Jodie Foster or Natalie Portman, rather than the violent mute we got. I also wish we’d have gotten a bit more out of Boyd Holbrook’s metal-handed villain Pierce, especially because with a bit more screen time, he could have been a much more effective villain.
That said, if there is absolutely one thing that Logan has done perfectly, its direction, style and best of all, the action. It may have taken nine movies, but Logan finally delivers the bloody limb-slicing action comic book fans have loved about Wolverine for decades, and the movie is at its best whenever it’s time to throw down in some positively brutal action scenes. I also want to commend Logan for its sci-fi western style, and for looking far better than X-Men: Apocalypse on less than a third of the budget.
No, Logan isn’t the genre-redefining success of The Avengers, a gonzo, balls-out genre send-up like Deadpool, or even a rip-roaring good time like the better Iron Man or Captain America movies. Even when it comes to grim seriousness and ultra-violence, I’m not sure how Logan will measure up to the likes of The Crow and Dredd in a few years time. That said, it’s good, and at times great, and the best thing to come out of the X-Men franchise so far that wasn’t Deadpool. I’m actually kind of sad it took 17 years to do it.
For the generation that grew up with Hugh Jackman as the face of Wolverine, Logan will likely serve as a moving, fitting send off to a beloved iteration of the character. For everyone else, Logan is an entertaining, if familiar entry in the heroic bloodshed subgenre, an action movie that serves as one hell of a last rodeo for the Wolverine.