Thursday, 23 March 2017

Logan (2017)

Fig 1 - Logan Poster
We are undeniably in the midst of a golden age of superhero films, all of which seeming to take turns in dominating the box office on a near constant basis. As technology allows us to achieve evermore believable visuals with which to adapt the beloved comics from which they derive, the past decade has seen the superhero genre go from strength to strength. I was a mere six years old when the first X-Men (2000) film was released, but even then I recognised that the tone was pretty far from the campy Schumacher 'Batman's' of the 90s. It was gritty and often pretty disturbing to me, seeing regular looking people with unimaginable powers. None grittier of course than Logan, a cage-fighter turned member of the X-Men alliance, whose adamantium bones and super-human healing made him one of the most powerful heroes of the lot. And after an unbelievable seventeen years of playing the role, now with eight films under his belt, Hugh Jackman's career-defining take on Wolverine comes to a close with Logan.

Directed by James Mangold, Logan follows the titular character in the year 2029. With mutants now on the brink of extinction, Logan works as a limo-driver living on the Mexican border with Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart) and a fellow mutant named Caliban (Stephen Merchant). Charles is suffering from a neurodegenerative disease that requires the constant care and attention of Logan and Caliban, as his seizures cause a deadly shock-wave that incapacitates those around him. Logan is eventually caught up in a situation which requires him to look after Charles and a young girl named Laura (Dafne Keen), who exhibits very similar powers to his own. They venture on a road trip to the potentially fictional 'Eden', where Laura is convinced there are mutants living, and thus the story commences...

Fig 2 - Logan - Laura and Logan
I should preface this by saying I did not see X-Men Apocalypse (2016) or The Wolverine (2013), which incidentally was also directed by Mangold, and there were no issues with following the story here whatsoever. A lot of reviews have made comparisons with the Western genre, which I somewhat agree with, but it feels a lot more like a 'road-trip' movie to me. But ultimately, the film is about pain and aging and coming to terms with the past. Before the end of the opening credits we have already witnessed Logan brutally murder several assailants whilst also getting quite a beating himself, something that perhaps a younger Logan would have recovered from much quicker. It is clear from the outset that he is no spring chicken anymore, which really sets the tone for the rest of the film.

I was pleasantly surprised by the amount of screen-time Stephen Merchant was given as the light-sensitive mutant tracker Caliban, who without his trademark accent would have given an unrecognisable performance. In addition, Dafne Keen delivered a very likeable movie debut as the semi-mute Laura. But without question, Hugh Jackman and Patrick Stewart equally gave outstanding final outings as their respective characters and stole the show for me. If anything, the only disappointing performance came from Richard E. Grant as Dr. Rice, who was somewhat forgettable in his role as the antagonist.

However, I really cannot fault this movie for much. Overall it was just as refreshing as Deadpool (2016) in its approach to the genre and will likely give way to more mature comic-book adaptations. Stan Lee does not make an appearance here, but in many ways I feel it would have taken me out of the reality the film sets up so well. It is gory and foul-mouthed in all the right places, with enough laughs and sentiment to make Logan one of the best films of the year so far. Certainly one of my favourites of the genre to date.


Fig. 1 Logan Poster (2017) From: Logan - Directed by: James Mangold

Fig. 2 Logan Screenshot (2017) From: Logan - Directed by: James Mangold

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