logan movie posterLogan (2017), Rated R
Directed By: James Mangold
Starring: Hugh Jackman, Dafne Keen, Patrick Stewart, Boyd Holbrook, Stephen Merchant, Richard E. Grant
Rating: four and a half stars
Reviewed by David L. Felts

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Yikes. This is not your kid’s superhero movie, so forget taking your 12 year-old Wolverine fan to this one. The R rating is well deserved, and the liberal f-bombs, spurting blood, and adult themes definitely place this in the 16 or older category. I suppose one could view Logan and the previous R-rated superhero movie Deadpool as evidence that superhero movies have grown up and are no longer firmly ensconced in the realm of childhood.

Marvel departs from it’s legacy of upbeat films to deliver a down, dirty, gritty and violent character-driven story mixed with old school action. At its core, it’s a chase film, with Logan, X23 (Dafne Keen) and Professor X (Patrick Stewart) on the run from the big baddies and their evil scientist. See, X23 is their property, part of an experiment gone wrong (at least in their eyes) and they want her back. Logan doesn’t want anything to do with anybody, but once he makes a promise, he’s determined to see it through, the promise, in this case, being to save X23 from the baddies.

Complicating this is a physical frail but still mentally powerful Professor X. Like all mortals, the inevitable physical decline has affected his brain, turning him into an unpredictable and dangerous weapon. Without the drugs provided by Logan, Professor X loses control of his powers and becomes a  threat to anyone nearby, nearby being within a few hundred yards.

And Logan isn’t doing too well himself, his healing factor now at the final stages of being overwhelmed by adamantium poisoning, courtesy of his metal-coated bones. He’s sick, and he’s not going to get any better. The wounds he suffers are slow to heal, and they’re starting not to heal at all.

Rarely do we see the bloody side of superheroes saving the world. People crushed by collapsing buildings, for example, or all the innocents mowed down by evil villains attempting to execute their grandiose plans. Even the bad guys seem to be cleanly and painlessly dispatched. Logan, in contrast, takes a close up and unflinching look at the violence, a violence grounded in reality here. No flying suits or magic hammers. It’s metal and flesh and people dying, bloody and in pain and helpless, and not just bad guys too. There’s collateral damage, and we see it close up.

Logan is also a character study. He’s a tortured man who’s lived for a very long time and has endured a lot of suffering. He’s afraid to care about people, since those he’s close to seem to come to a bad end. Not caring is a form of self-preservation, to spare himself the pain of their loos and disappointing them. The people he’s allowed himself to get close too are now all dead, though the how is never precisely explained. He’s more the loner now than he ever was, essentially just waiting to die, anchored only by his responsibility of caring for Professor X. 

There’s a definite Western vibe here, as other reviewers have commented. It’s easy to see Logan as the jaded gunslinger who has lost everything. Against his will yet seeking redemption, he gets drawn into one more job, one he hopes he can use to wipe away past sins.

There’s no super-powered villain bent on global domination being foiled by a superhero, there’s just a guy trying to do the right thing all the while consumed by guilt and regret. It isn’t a set-up for the next movie in the franchise; it’s an ending in more ways than one. It’s dark and bloody, but also fun, the way the re-envisioned Mad Max was fun. A full bore ahead action flick with a post-apocalyptic vibe that doesn’t skimp on violence while staying true to the characters spawned by the franchise.

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