Warning: It’s Bloody… It’s Really Bloody… “May contain some scenes of violence”… More like “May contain some scenes of peace”. (Am I right?)
Director: James Mangold
Main Cast: Hugh Jackman, Patrick Stewart, Dafne Keen, Richard E. Grant, Boyd Holbrook, Stephen Merchant
There’s a reason I have steered clear of including superhero movies in the “You Should Be Watching…” series and that isn’t because I’m above the hype. I’m a simple man, I see someone defying the laws of space, time and physics and I’ll be the first one in line with popcorn in hand looking like Michael Jackson in the Thriller video. Has the genre become oversaturated? 100%, but that’s still not the reason. The real reason is because I know that with or without my stamp of approval, you WILL be watching the latest superhero. As of April 2020 the Marvel franchise alone has grossed over £17 billion, more than double that of the takings of the Star Wars – the second placed franchise on the list – I don’t think my blog had anything to do with that. Instead, I’ll recommend “Logan”. Just stay with me I promise I’m going somewhere with this.
Logan is the story of one of the X-Men’s most recognisable faces, a team of superheroes, but The X-Men are superheroes in the most loose use of the term – in the same way that a pizza with pineapple toppings is still considered to be a pizza, because it’s made out of dough and has a crust. They have superpowers, but they aren’t adored in the same way as their contemporaries. They aren’t heroes, they’re mutants. They exist in a world where people of their kind are persecuted and vilified because they possess physical characteristics and attributes that are outside of their control; they are captured and studied like circus attractions; and their very existence is seen as a threat to humanity as we know it (sounds strangely familiar doesn’t it?). Logan is the embodiment of it all.
In the not-so-distant 2029, the entire mutant race is almost obliterated with no documented birth of a mutant in the last 25 years, and Logan (Hugh Jackman), the invincible superhero once known as the Wolverine, finds himself getting old, surrendering to alcohol and no longer able to rely on his superhuman healing ability, which is beginning to fail him. Hiding in plain sight, Logan spends his days working as a limo driver in El Paso, Texas. In an abandoned smelting plant in northern Mexico, he and mutant tracker Caliban (Stephen Merchant) care for 90-year-old Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart), Logan’s mentor and founder of the X-Men. Charles, a telepath, has developed a form of dementia that causes him to have seizures unless controlled with medication cause him to become incoherent and release a destructive wave of his telepathic powers with the potential to kill everyone around him. Logan believes himself, Caliban and Charles to be the last three mutants left but Charles is hopeful that there are more.
Things take an unexpected turn when a female stranger asks Logan to drive a girl named Laura (Dafne Keen) to the Canadian border, where a better life supposedly awaits her. For reasons unknown to Logan, the young girl is being pursued by sinister figures working for a powerful corporation; making him even more reluctant to allow her into their lives, but Charles convinces him to take her in. Logan’s protective instincts begin to kick in and discovers that there are remarkable similarities between Laura and himself. In what might be his last heroic act, an ageing Logan decides to take Laura to the border, but is his body up to the task?
If you have seen the first two films in the Wolverine trilogy, you’re probably not too hot on the idea of sitting through this one and I can’t say that I didn’t feel the same way going into this film. I was really disappointed in the storytelling in the last films, the plot lines had so much potential but the execution (characters, pacing, etc) was so poor. I set the bar of expectation low going into this film so that I wouldn’t be disappointed, but I could have done the opposite and it still would’ve exceeded all of them!
I’ve always thought that there’s a sick kind of poetic irony with character of Wolverine. He’s the most immitable – as children (and some of us as adults), we all used to collect the popsicle sticks and put them in between our fingers and pretend to be Wolverine – but his life is the least enviable, anything he has ever loved has perished. This film captures that element of his character perfectly. Laura, the young girl who Charles insists Logan looks after, is enamoured by the Wolverine she has seen in her comic books and wants to mimic his every move, but Logan is quick to remind her that his alter-ego is not the hero she thinks he is and it’s not a role that he has ever enjoyed having to take on “I suck at this… bad shit happens to people I care about”. As the film goes on you come to realise that what Logan represents for Laura is what Laura grows to represent for Logan… a little sliver of hope.
Dafne Keen’s onscreen presence far exceeds that of her pint-sized frame, despite her character offering very little in the way of speaking opportunities, her facial expressions and use of body language are exceptional in setting the tone and she is more than just a passenger on this journey. The film may be titled Logan, but make no mistake about it, this film is hers as much as it is his. Through all of the dismembered limbs and bullet fragments, the interactions between her and Hugh Jackman take the edge off at moments when you least expect it, there are a lot of one liners and physical comedy in places when you least expect it and I think the element of surprise is makes it so effective. It makes you laugh when you had no intentions of letting out a chuckle.
Through all of the gore and violence, the heart of the film beats as raucously as Logan’s howls from X-men films gone by. The change in dynamic of Logan’s relationship with Charles is something that is relatable to all watchers, as the saying goes, “once a man, twice a child”. Patrick Stewart’s portrayal of Charles Xavier has always been that of an all-knowing hyper-intellectual but now he struggles to string sentences together due to his regressing mental health and is reliant on Logan to keep him alive. It’s a full circle moment from the original X-Men films when it was Charles who took Logan in and gave him the love and family. Logan is fighting to hold onto everything that Charles represents to him, a friend… a mentor… a father… and we desperately want that for him because we’ve all felt helpless watching the hands of time take a stranglehold on a loved one.
It’s nightmarishly violent but it isn’t reliant on violence to carry it. The dialogue is very engagi… I know I said that thing about it not relying on violence but the violence is just so brutal. I loved every second of it. It’s NOT for the feint-hearted, but if you’re into bloody massacres (in film form of course), then “Logan” will fulfil all of your dreams.
In “Logan”, James Mangold (the Director) has created an emotional playground, where the characters swing between your heart strings like children playing on monkey bars. The final act is would melt the heart of even of the coldest of cynics. I remember watching this film for the first time in cinema with my uni flatmates and one of them had no idea what we were watching and just came along because it was something to do. She was so clueless about what she had came to see that it wasn’t until halfway through the film (I kid you not) that she turned to the side and said “wait, is he Wolverine?” You could literally hear the whole cinema slap their foreheads in unison. As the film was reaching its climax I heard I whimper and it wasn’t coming from the screen… I turned to my side and I saw her crying, she’d become so emotionally invested in a storyline that she had no interest in before that by the end of it she couldn’t contain it. Naturally I laughed at her and then nudged my other flatmates so that we could all jump in and they could laugh at her too, but the point is “Logan” forces you to care in a way that few other films are able to.
Logan isn’t a film about a superhero, it’s a film about a man who has spent his whole life on a path in search of death, only to find something worth living for at the end of the road.
Thank You For Reading! As Usual Comments Are Encouraged!