Stars: Hugh Jackman, Patrick Stewart, Richard E. Grant, Dafne Keen, Boyd Holbrook | Written by James Mangold, Scott Frank, Michael Green | Directed by James Mangold
Logan slashes its way into theaters this week and Fox and Marvel finally gives the fans of the X-Men the tale they have wanted to see for years. Logan, as it should be evident by the R rating, is not for children and is a beautifully violent, head-rolling (literally!) and well-written story that gives Hugh Jackman a film worthy of letting Wolverine ride off into the sunset.
Logan is set in the year 2029 when mutants are either dead or in hiding and no longer a part of everyday society. Logan/Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) watches after Professor X (Patrick Stewart) in an abandoned silo in Mexico with the assistance of Caliban, played by a returning Stephen Merchant after a brief role in the previous X-Men film, Apocalypse. Logan resorts to being a limo driver that knows his time is coming to an end as his body is not healing as quick as it used due to the adamantium that replaced his bones is now poisoning him. Logan and Professor X leave their reclusive life to help a mysterious new mutant Laura/X-23 (Dafne Keen) to a possible safe haven for mutants called Eden. Along the way, the trio is hunted by a bounty hunter named Pierce (Boyd Holbrook) and the psychotic Dr. Rice (Richard E. Grant) who enjoys experimenting on children in an attempt to make them the soldiers of the future.
- Laura/X-23 - Keen does an amazing acting job bringing the new mutant to the screen. Child characters/actors usually range from “bad” to “tolerable” but Keen knocks it out of the ballpark. She brings a quiet disposition that she unleashes into a berserker rage when she is cornered or threatened, from bounty hunters to the local convenient store clerk accusing Laura of stealing from the store. The character hinges on Keen’s performance and she not only delivers in her performance, she makes the audience wanting to see more of Laura/X-23 in her own solo film.
- The story - James Mangold, writer of the Sylvester Stallone film Copland, is finally able to bring a gritty and realistic (as much as it can be) Wolverine film to the masses. Logan is filled with well acted and choreographed action scenes that allow the brutality of the Wolverine character from the comics to show through on screen. Mangold shows he “gets” the character of Wolverine and allows the animalistic nature of Logan to shine in the film.
- The “R” rating - I am not someone that feels an R rating is needed to make a film better because if the story is good, that should be all it needs to succeed but in Logan, the R rating was needed. Fans of Wolverine have been clamoring for a gritty and bloody film to actually depict the character and the R rating secures that for this film. The battles are brutal but well done and while the fights are bloody, I never felt any gore or violence was gratuitous for the sake of being gratuitous. The brutality serves to show the inner struggles X-23 and Wolverine have when taking a life and Mangold balances it perfectly.
- Absolutely nothing.
- The length of the film - While the film delivers on the story, there are times when not only the action slows down but the flow story stalls in the film. This doesn’t mean the film is worse for these slow periods but by taking off about 15 minutes of the film, Mangold may have been able to deliver a tighter movie overall.
- Caliban - Caliban is an albino mutant and a poor man’s Alfred for Logan and Professor X but once he is kidnapped and threatened with sunlight, which he must avoid at all costs, he has no choice to but to help the villains in using his powers to track our heroes. Caliban provides the few moments of levity and humor and fans will appreciate Mangold bringing the mutant back after his brief role in the last X-Men film.
- Pierce - Pierce is the main villain who is hired to capture Laura and while the actor Holbrook does a fine job in bringing personality to him, a lack of backstory hurts Pierce’s character in the film. There are moments where Pierce delivers and while the character is an improvement above many one dimensional villains in the prior X-Men films, I kept wanting a little more regarding Pierce’s reasoning for doing what he does to mutants in this universe.
Final Grade: B (Good w/moments of greatness)
Logan is one of the better X-Men films in a franchise that sorely needs a hit. Logan is everything that fans of the comic want and Mangold should be given keys to the X-Men film universe for making a film that will resonate with non-fans of the comic. The film has moments, even periods, of greatness and while the film is very well made, there are moments that stop it from being a true classic.