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The Filmaholic Reviews: Logan (2017)

Posted on the 05 March 2017 by Filmaholic Reviews @FilmaholicRvews
The Filmaholic Reviews: Logan (2017)
THERE ARE SOME SPOILERS IN THIS REVIEW. 
There is a powerful scene in Logan where he jolts awake from a nightmare and finds himself staring at Laura, a mysterious little girl who wandered into his life. Logan asks her if she has nightmares. She nods and replies "People hurt me." There is a long silence, and then Logan responds back with "I hurt people." This is just one of several powerful understated scenes in Logan, a stunning genre-bender. It is being hailed as "the best superhero movie ever made" by many sources, but this is unfitting; Logan shares more with neo-noir, western, and road movies, and it just happens to be about a comic-book hero. Gone are the tiresome tropes of the superhero and comic-book genres, such as tight, colorful outfits and apocalyptic finales filled with explosions, all replaced with something far more interesting: humanity.
Logan is a feral, uncompromising take on Wolverine, everyone's favorite X-Man, whose inner demons have finally caught up with him. It is the year 2029, mutants are virtually extinct, and the X-Men no longer exist. Logan (Hugh Jackman) now prefers to lie low, working as a limo driver for hire while caring for an aging Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart). Then a mysterious little girl named Laura (Dafne Keen) appears in his life, along with a bunch of goons who want her for nefarious reasons, which upsets Logan's miserable existence and forces him on the run.
Plot aside, this film is primarily a character study on the titular Logan, whose tortured past and subsequent depression have taken their toll on him. His beard is unkempt and speckled with white hairs, he guzzles alcohol like it's water, and his adamantium claws now get stuck in his knuckles. He grieves the loss of the X-Men and longs to save up money to buy a boat so he can live in the ocean, away from humanity and his problems. This theme of running away from real-life issues is not a new one; Logan has drawn comparison to films such as The Wrestler (2008), where a washed-up wrestler struggles with a failing career and daddy issues, and rightfully so. For example, Logan reluctantly cares for an elderly, deteriorating Charles Xavier, which serves to highlight their father-son relationship, one which existed in the previous X-Men films, but was never pronounced until now. Those who have elderly or infirm relatives to care for would understand the mental struggle of it all, and Logan, with his short temper and brash attitude can barely stand it.
Matters get worse for Logan once Laura enters his life. (SPOILERS) As is stated in the film, she turns out to be Logan's daughter. Turns out that she is daddy's little girl in almost every way, from her brash attitude, hot temper, adamantium skeleton, and self-regenerating abilities. Naturally, Logan is completely unprepared for this and much of the film is spent exploring the evolution of their often-turbulent relationship. Again, this is reminiscent of The Wrestler, where Mickey Rourke's character tries to make amends with his daughter, whom he neglected because he was caught up in a life of fame. Things are rough and complicated from the start, especially since Logan didn't know he had a daughter, and they end up together as a result of a very brutal and violent run-in with bad guys. Later on, Logan yells a lot at Laura, and Laura always pushes back, preferring to listen to the much more kind and reasonable Charles Xavier. However, the film is peppered with small nuances that bring the two ever closer together. It was a wise decision to make part of Logan a road movie, since it brings out a lot of quiet moments between characters that highlight their emotions. Along with the scene I mentioned at the beginning of the review, the fight scenes involving Logan and Laura function as a way to chart the progress of their relationship, and it is refreshing to see fight scenes that don't just serve as entertainment.
The Filmaholic Reviews: Logan (2017)
On the subject of Laura, Dafne Keen, the young actress who plays her, is simply fantastic. She has no dialog for most of the film, and yet, she steals many of the scenes she is in, even just from the twitch of an eyebrow. It is an unhinged performance that rivals even those of Hugh Jackman and Patrick Stewart, both of whom deliver career-best performances in my humble opinion. Hugh Jackman unravels layers to Logan's character that we always felt were present in the other X-Men and Wolverine movies, but didn't get to see until now. Patrick Stewart perfectly complements Logan and Laura as the father figure who has to rein his wild children in (just as he did when he ran the X-Men school), but is tortured by his own devastating past. Logan is allegedly the final appearance of Hugh Jackman and Patrick Stewart in X-Men films, and if it is so, then they really went out with a bang.
The supporting cast also fares well, with Stephen Merchant playing Caliban, an albino mutant who helps Logan take care of the ailing Charles Xavier. The villains of the piece are both excellent in their own understated ways. Richard Grant is Dr. Rice, a typical evil scientist who runs a big, evil science corporation that uses mutant research to make super-soldiers. Boyd Holbrook is great as Pierce, Dr. Rice's slimy right-hand man. Both actors could have easily overacted, but the performances find a good balance between that and understated evil. Dr. Rice, in particular, is a real smooth-talker, and gets away with saying particularly nasty things in a flat, unassuming tone of voice.
Speaking of nasty, Logan's R-rating opened up a lot of opportunities for the film and hopefully for the comic-book and superhero genres in the future. Elements of the film such as Laura's horrifying backstory, and even the mature themes of escaping reality and parent-child issues were allowed to be explored more, adding more depth to the story and characters. Even the violence is as impactful as it is gruesome. I already mentioned that the scenes involving Logan and Laura fighting together show the progress of their relationship, but even Logan's solo fights are about the internalization of his character. For example, the film's opening sequence involves Logan slicing up a group of cholos trying to jack the tires off of his limo. This scene is effective and shocking not just because it is the first time we have seen Logan's adamantium claws impaling limbs and faces in such a bloody, brutal fashion, but because we get to witness the devastated, lonely, angry soul that Logan has become after so many years.
On a technical level, I am satisfied that Logan wisely moved away from CGI excess over substance. The fight sequences don't involve endless explosions or a dozen different mutant powers all fighting to get equal screen time. Instead, the realism makes the violence far more impactful, hearkening back to the gunfights in an old western or fights in a martial arts movie.
Logan is a masterpiece, easily the best Wolverine iteration and arguably the best film that Marvel has produced to date. Logan is also the perfect send-off to Hugh Jackman as the character; the film's final scene is brilliant, understated, and emotional, and I have nothing but praise for it. I don't consider the film a "comic-book movie" or a "superhero movie" in the traditional sense; it is more than that, and by breaking the mold, it hopefully paves the way for more films like it in the future.
The Filmaholic Reviews: Logan (2017)
© Filmaholic Reviews, 2016

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