A sick and slick flick. It’s my pick. See it quick!
⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐
Nowadays, actors who are cast as superheroes are blessed with the knowledge that they’ll be working that role for years… unless the franchise gets rebooted. Speaking of Spider-Man, it’s impossible to picture anyone else except J.K. Simmons as J. Jonah Jameson, and the same goes for Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine, who first appeared in X-Men, 17 years ago. Feel old yet? Well, Wolverine certainly does/is in Logan where he’s thrust into being a reluctant caregiver for both Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart) and a mysterious girl called Laura (Dafne Keen).
Even with eye lasers, magnetic powers and frog people, the X-Men films have been somewhat darker than other superhero entries, and Logan is easily the grittiest of all; perhaps even one of the most violent and grim of its genre. This is a Wolverine film like no other, as well as a Wolverine like we’ve never seen before. He is tired and beaten by life, and by other people.
Excluding some triumphant moments during the climax, there’s nothing glorious to be seen here. Logan doesn’t enjoy this journey and only continues it out of obligation or proving a point. Every single moment of temporary safety is punctuated by a catastrophe, such as a relaxing scene with friendly farmers concluding with a heartbreaking moment of violence and distrust. Logan, Laura and Charles bring pain wherever they go, whether it’s a gas station employee who gets assaulted or hotel patrons that are all mentally barraged by Charles’ unstable mind.
Patrick Stewart returns as Charles Xavier, showing incredible versatility with a role he’s been doing for as long as Jackman. Even though Jackman wears a constant beard and crinkled brow, we never lose the emotion in Logan’s position as the strong protector. He doesn’t just shrug off tragedy. He gets angry, and his paternal moments with Laura are all genuine. The film shines with sincerity when all three are together, especially Logan and Charles who both realistically oscillate between heavy weariness, annoyance and humour akin to old friends.
Unfortunately, an unavoidable problem with Logan is that any antagonist is going to unnecessarily draw attention away from our main cast, and the evil mercenary, Donald Pierce (Boyd Holbrook), the evil scientist, Zander Rice (Richard E. Grant) and their “pet” mostly pose physical threats to a primarily emotional story. Plot wise, they also expose their mutant tracking prisoner, Caliban (Stephen Merchant), as a magical crystal ball that falls into their hands, whose only purpose is to prevent our heroes from easily succeeding, like the villain equivalent of the crocodile from Peter Pan.
Logan is a must see for anyone who may just have a passing interest in the X-Men film franchise, and a few references to previous movies, both new and old, will be appreciated by any fan. Even those who are totally unfamiliar and willing to endure the long runtime will be easily swept up in a generic, but nonetheless classic, story filled with heart. And blood. And guts. And a kid being harpooned in the leg.
Logan is available in Australian cinemas from March 2nd
Image courtesy of 20th Century Fox