Review: Logan (2017)

Logan (2017)

Directed by: James Mangold | 137 minutes | action, drama, science fiction, thriller | Actors: Hugh Jackman, Patrick Stewart, Dafne Keen, Boyd Holbrook, Stephen Merchant, Elizabeth Rodriguez, Richard E. Grant, Eriq La Salle, Elise Neal, Quincy Fouse, Al Coronel, Frank Gallegos, Anthony Escobar, Reynaldo Gallegos, Krzysztof Soszynski, Stephen Dunlevy

After three ‘X-Men’ films, it was decided to explore the origins of the mutants. In 2009, Wolverine came first with ‘X-Men Origins: Wolverine’. Gavin Hood’s film was not a resounding success, but director James Mangold was brought out of the stable and a few years later was allowed to give it a try with ‘The Wolverine’ (2013). This film was also no more than average. Mangold didn’t give up, however, and returned for ‘Logan’ (2017). An emotional drama about an old worn out superhero who is forced to roll up his sleeves one last time. The title character has to take a young girl under his wing as he tries to keep her from a private army. You don’t see that every day.

The fact that the hero in question doesn’t have to save the whole world for once ensures that ‘Logan’ provides a breath of fresh air in the superhero genre. The story is always smaller in scale and that ensures that ‘Logan’ remains very personal. It is therefore almost a direct counterpart to the often optimistic films from Marvel Studios, ‘Logan’ is grim without reminding the viewer of this every minute. There’s certainly room for some funny dialogue here and there, but when Logan/Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) and Charles Xavier/Professor X (Patrick Stewart) have to run or jump back into action, it quickly becomes clear that this isn’t the average superhero movie that the viewer has come to appreciate over the years.

Not in the least because of the fact that you can only see this film from the age of sixteen. That means a whole lot of blood from people being stabbed in the face (or other body parts) by Wolverine and a whole lot of name calling from the characters (yes, including the ever polite Patrick Stewart). However, nowhere does this feel strange or out of place. The setting in which the characters are introduced explains this change very naturally. Not only is the narrative almost thirty years between this film and the very first ‘X-Men’ (2000), mutants will be excluded from society by the year 2029. Logan, Charles and their younger companion Caliban (Stephen Merchant) are forced to live as hermits. They’re all over it, they’re like a cat in a corner and the consequences don’t matter anymore. In their own words, they are “fucked up”.

Are all mutants further extinct? No, a little mutant continues to bravely resist the bad guys and doesn’t make life easy for the Reavers. Laura (Dafne Keen) is her name, a little Mexican girl with a temperament that can scare the viewer. She has the same (super) powers as Logan (sharp claws and fast wound healing) and is hunted by the aforementioned Reavers, who are led by Pierce (Boyd Holbrook). Although she doesn’t have much to say, she steals every scene she gets. She likes to turn her enemies into a bloody mass just as much as Logan does. Isn’t it quite disturbing to see a little girl do that? Yes, but it does not alter the fact that it also brings enormous viewing pleasure.

Due to their similar gifts, the scenes between Logan and Laura are always a feast for the eyes. Both are very stubborn and this often reveals touching conflict. The scenes between Logan and Xavier are also a highlight of the film, the two actors started these roles in 2000 and for both it will be the last time they step into the skin of the superheroes. For Hugh Jackman the goodbye is bittersweet, he has played the character Logan/Wolverine in nine films for seventeen years. How fitting, then, that the last time he uses the claws, he finally managed to make a good movie about that particular character. Even better, ‘Logan’ is a groundbreaking superhero film.

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