Logan is an unusual offering in its genre category. Not since 2008’s Iron Man and 2010’s Dark Knight has a superhero film approached a character with as much humanity as is Logan. Perhaps because there were no extra-terrestrials or extra bad guys intent on destroying the entire world, therefore there manifested very little need for speeches on honor and love of country and friendship.
What Logan celebrates and reminds us of, in these times of mega explosions and world collapses and big rings in the sky shooting Blue(see every superhero movie, well most) is the potential present in a simple but powerful idea. Whether condensed to its minimum or explored with all the trappings technology provides today, the story remains intact. This more than anything has been the foundation of any excellent piece of work.
We begin with a visibly older Logan battling Mexicans. In this new world mutants have been nearly extinguished and there have been no new births for twenty five years. The Mexicans originally on the trail of a woman hiding a child now fall into Logan’s open claws and die, as usual. He leaves and continues with his life as a limousine driver spending his nights unable to sleep, and getting weaker while procuring drugs for Professor X who is encountering seizures that hold catastrophic consequences for the world if they are allowed to go on for long enough (his brain has the classification of a weapon of mass destruction). In the middle of the misery, more trouble finds him of course and he inherits the task of protecting a delivering a mutant child to a mutant haven.
The experience of this movie for me involved an intense battle, spending a significant part of the film trying to really concentrate. If I had walked into an art-house piece or one whose trailer sold a kind of reflective plot with some action, perhaps the movie would have spoken to my conditioning, a conditioning which after years of viewing big budget movies that said nothing save for the occasional passable piece have left me and many other viewers with rather modified expectations of what constitutes a good movie.
It also explains why this review is especially difficult to highlight and dissect because Logan extends past the superhero popcorn genre therefore the criteria has changed. While it shares some story traits with George Miller’s excellent Mad Max Fury Road, it forgoes crazy side characters for largely subliminal ones. Logan works like a sleeping pill and a shot of adrenalin at the same time. There are long drives through sand and countryside where one can almost sink into the comfortable cracks of Patrick Stewarts’ growl or be so enamored by the eyes of newcomer, Dafne Keen you forget this is an X-men movie, and then the action scenes leap.
Wonderfully choreographed with a realism visibly missing from the big screens these days, the action scenes are neither respectful of blood or body parts being cracked and discarded and the movie retains its sense of menace throughout. Watching these people fight, we get tired with them. I halfway expected Logan, like the significant and brilliant doorway scene in Daredevil to pause for breath before ripping his attackers to shred. If only.
The highlight in the movie for many will be Dafne Keen. In her film debut the actress who says less than seven pages of dialogue and spends the rest screaming staring and generally engaging in “badassery”. It is a wonderful time for the girl power enthusiasts. Finally we have an addition to Hit Girl and Seven. The pantheon grows. Stephen Merchant in a departure from his comedic brilliance functions as the creepiest nicest albino mutant tracker in recent times. Boyd Holbrook is not nice pretty boy we all thought he was. Yay.
The cinematography thrives best in the violent scenes, punches and cracks and leaping positioned with enough clarity, another uncommon feature in today’s shaky cam trope(save for the Gun Fu brilliance of John Wick). The soundtrack is fitting but never overpowering, almost forgettable but it works because Logan is so wholly special effects free, there is less of a need for the emotional hype that music often accomplishes. Logan is silent in all the best ways. Even the bad guys don’t rant as much.
So much of Logan is not necessarily understated but when context is applied, especially places beside the other movies inside the worldwide franchise it seems full of restraint but positively.
Whatever decisions the executives upstairs are making, perhaps as the first of a new way of bringing superhero stories having made more money than countries combined with the previous films. If Logan is bidding goodbye to the old tried and tested formula, buy me a ticket to the next film, please.
This movie is rated a Popcorn and Soda for exceeding expectations and functioning as a brilliant goodbye to Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine.