“Logan”

LOUISA: 4.5 STARS MATT: 4.5 STARS


LOUISA SAYS:

With its narrow and unflinching scope, “Logan” forces the audience to face a world-weary man’s past demons up close and personally. While this poignant farewell chapter may be a swan song for Wolverine, this dark, violent and brutal film is so much more. It’s a somber, slow burn fueled with a painful introspective of a tormented man’s reflection on morality, mortality, and regret. It’s a superhero movie that has nothing to do with being a superhero, and it’s easily one of the best movies of the year.

Hugh Jackman elevates his final outing as the popular X-Men character with a melancholy performance in this exceptionally and unexpectedly thoughtful movie. The year is 2029 and most mutants are now extinct. Logan’s adamantium metal skeleton is slowly killing him, and he’s living his life in physical and psychological agony. It’s hard to see him like this, and it’s even harder to see his old friend and mentor Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart) losing his mind and the control of his own powers. The two are hiding out in a remote area of Mexico where Logan drives a limo for cash and finds it necessary to drug Charles in order to keep him sedated (and to prevent him from hurting himself — and others). When a frantic woman (Elizabeth Rodriguez) begs Logan for help moving young mute girl Laura (Dafne Keen) across the border to safety from an evil government organization (led by Boyd Holbrook), he learns about the existence of a new generation of mutants and does everything in his power to help grant them safe passage.

Newcomer Keen seamlessly integrates her way into the story with the perfect blend of sympathetic and lethal, her character paving the way for a new generation to continue the X-Men legacy. She gives a strong performance, especially for such a young actor, and I’m quite excited to see more of her in future installments.

The genuine and skillful acting throughout elevates this film from being nothing more than a lurid, cheap exercise in hyper violence. There’s a certain sincerity in the mutual respect between Charles and Logan, a tumultuous yet appreciative relationship between two men with a dynamic chemistry (Jackman and Stewart remain loyal and respectful to their characters, oftentimes with agonizing sorrow when you suddenly realize that this could be the final, mournful end to their bond).

There’s an underlying anguish to Wolverine’s rage, a painful ache that simmers under the stunning action sequences. This isn’t your typical Marvel blockbuster: get ready for gory dismemberings, close-ups of claws piercing skulls, razor sharp instruments popping through eyeballs, and ferocious blows that will make heads roll — literally. (In case you haven’t figured it out, this decidedly adult oriented film is not appropriate for the youngsters. Please leave ’em home for this one).

As a long time fan of the “X-Men” film series, I have to admit that it was a little disconcerting and quite alarming to see Wolverine actually draw blood from his victims. Showing the aftermath and reality of his viciousness through brutal violence was startling and disturbing, especially after all those years of watching the superhero bloodlessly slash and stab his way through countless bad guys. His rage has at last been unleashed, and fans will surely agree that it’s true to the character (and how great is it to finally hear the man continuously dropping the “f” word in the most natural, organic way)?

“Logan” makes the most of its R rating and is sure to unsettle and disturb those seeking a traditional Marvel superhero movie. This isn’t an action packed fluff piece: it’s a deliberate, dark, and thoughtful introspective tale of a downtrodden man who has lost his will to live.

The movie isn’t without its mild flaws, from the beat-you-over-the-head parallels to the classic western “Shane” to an astonishingly choreographed old Wolverine vs. young clone Wolverine fight that is freaking fantastic — until it’s repeated later on. But these are only minor criticisms of a film that’s a bold, daring, and sad-yet-satisfying finale to the saga of Logan.

MATT SAYS:

Violence has consequences. And in “Logan,” horrific violence has horrific consequences, even if you’re one of the “good” guys.

“Logan” finds the Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) in the not-too-distant future, working as a chauffeur to make ends meet and trying hard to forget his past. When he’s not working, he’s caring for the ailing nonagenarian Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart) in a world where mutants are no longer being born and the X-Men are all but extinct. Now an aging has-been, Logan is but a shadow of his former self: hardly the cocky, self-obsessed man he once was, this broken-down man is haunted by the memories of the people he has killed and those he has left behind. When a mysterious girl with powers like his lands on Logan’s doorstep, he is forced to live up to his legend and fight to protect her from forces that want to destroy her.

In “Logan,” we finally get a superhero movie that doesn’t feel like a comic book. The story is a small one, where the there is no larger-than-life megalomaniac wielding a giant destructo-beam with aspirations to rule the world. Instead, this movie is satisfied with the central goal of keeping the girl, Laura (Dafne Keen) safe. In this mission Logan finds purpose, and it is enough.

Those who were hoping for an X-Men movie will be disappointed in “Logan.” While there are multiple well-choreographed fight sequences (without fast-cut editing), in this film the violence is nothing like we normally see in superhero cinema. In this movie, when someone is sliced by the Wolverine’s sharp claws, there is blood. There is gore. Death isn’t bloodless or pretty, and the camera doesn’t flinch as we are shown the violence inflicted by Logan and others. This is, by far, the bloodiest movie based on a comic-book character I think I’ve ever seen. But it’s not gore for gore’s sake; there is a purpose for it.

At its heart, “Logan” is a character study about a man that has done terrible things and now has to live with them; worse, he has to live with himself. Much like James Gunn’s excellent 2010 movie “Super,” there are no white hats here: just real killing with real consequences.

Built upon fully-realized characters with understandable motivations, “Logan” never feels like it’s manipulating us. The drama is earned, as are the laughs and cheers. This kind of character-driven drama is not something most audiences are used to, but it’s a significant step forward for the superhero genre.

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