Logan Stars Hugh Jackman and Patrick Stewart and is Directed by James Mangold
Review: James Mangold’s spaghetti western approach to Logan fits like a glove, and the smaller, more contained approach to setting and plot allows the film to really center on Wolverine’s chaotic and mangled past. Includes gruff performances by Hugh Jackman and Patrick Stewart.
I had long been meaning to check out Logan as its reputation as one of best superhero movies of this modern era (an era now known for its abundance of superhero fare) can not be overstated. It’s beloved – touted as a return to form for the clawed, gruff hero (played by Hugh Jackman), and a film that holds nothing back in terms of its relentlessness and brutal violence in the face of midlife crisis and a sense of waning time.
And with the month of January usually slow for blockbuster theater releases (unless you call Night Swim and The Beekeeper must see entertainment), I had time to do the requisite homework necessary to understand the plot and sentimental connection to the main character in Logan. I had never seen an X-Men movie up until these last couple weeks, and the only exposure I’ve had to movies in this vein are either the MCU (obviously) and the Deadpool franchise (again, obviously). I was seemingly familiar with all the other contemporary movie franchises in this genre except the X-Men movies.
So with the recent formal introduction of Beast and Binary into the MCU via a post credit scene for The Marvels (sorry for spoiling the post credit scene to The Marvels (?)), now felt like the perfect time to dive into what turned out to be a pretty messy franchise filled with many lows and a few, few highs. But at least one of those highs was 2017’s Logan, which feels like the only time 20th Century Studios Fox and James Mangold ever figured out the right tone for this character.
I wasn’t too keen on Hugh Jackman’s portrayal of Wolverine in any of the team up movies. Those were much too goopy and intergalactic to match the tone of Jackman’s understated performances. It was like sending Christian Bale’s Batman to space, hoping he would fit in a world where he’s fighting against aliens and otherworldly beings. In the MCU, they found a tongue-in-cheek fashion to make it work, where Robert Downey Jr.’s Tony Stark never took the world he was in too literally and seriously. But Wolverine takes everything too seriously, and therefore it’s hard to keep that grounded energy when your series’ main villain is an anti-hero that can control the movement of metal.
But James Mangold’s spaghetti western approach to Logan fits like a glove, and the smaller, more contained approach to setting and plot allows the film to really center on Wolverine’s chaotic and mangled past. Logan is also the first of the extended universe to receive that coveted R rating, which feels significant given the titular character’s main avenue for doing battle is clawing his enemies to death. The X-Men franchise always had to imply rather than show, but Logan finally gives the creatives the ability to show – and show they do. It’s extremely gnarly, and at times overwhelming. The effects are mostly serviceable, and the action is shot just well enough to pass (although the shaky cams get a bit sickening after a while).
Reviews for Movies like Logan (2017)
There are still some reservations I have with the film, like a hodgepodge road trip story that dominates the plot that doesn’t ever really feel like it’s in motion. Charles Xavier (the returning Patrick Stewart, who plays a battered Professor X about as well as possible) instills much of the hope in the film in the first half, only to be killed in a manner that doesn’t feel all too deserved in the grand scheme of everything in the second. In fact, many of these X-Men movies have that exact problem. The deaths don’t feel all too deserved, and they don’t land with the gut punch you’d expect.
And for someone who binged an entire franchise within the span of a few days, I just don’t have the emotional connection to the franchise to really feel the impact of the finality in Logan. This is the end, but for me it’s just the end of a week’s worth of movie watching. I imagine it played better for others in the theater that had stuck with this franchise since its inception in 2000.
But it’s otherwise a more nuanced, thoughtful, and concise approach to a character I struggled to understand the appeal of, and through a performance that easily surpasses any of Hugh Jackman’s others as Wolverine. He matches the material here better than ever, and the same can be said for Patrick Stewart. I liked them both, and Logan is just good enough around the edges to do their performances justice.
Watch Logan on Disney+ and VOD
Logan Cast and Credits
Hugh Jackman as Logan/Wolverine
Patrick Stewart as Charles Xavier/Professor X
Dafne Keen as Laura
Boyd Holbrook as Pierce
Stephen Merchant as Caliban
Richard E. Grant as Dr. Rice
Elizabeth Rodriguez as Gabriela
Director: James Mangold
Cinematography: John Mathieson
Composer: Marco Beltrami
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