Fox’s Division Of Marvel Strikes Gold With R Rated “Logan”
By Scott Kurland
Starring: Hugh Jackman, Patrick Stewart, Stephen Merchant, Richard E. Grant, Boyd Holbrook, and introducing Dafne Keen
Director: James Mangold
For almost twenty years, two things have been certain. One, Fox makes “X-Men” movies, and two, Hugh Jackman is Wolverine. Now, it appears that the man- from-down-under's time playing "Weapon X" is coming to close and he’s at last hanging up the claws. We have seen young Wolverine, 70’s Wolverine, and now we get old man Logan. This week’s film is indeed “Logan,” directed by James Mangold, the man who also directed the last solo film “The Wolverine.” Let’s find out if Jackman and Mangold can bring one of the greatest graphic novels to life shall we?
“Logan” takes place in 2029 with an aging (and possibly dying) Logan (Hugh Jackman) caught in a dystopian society where mutants are nearly extinct. It’s been years since he's had to use his claws, and he spends most of his days as a limo driver and caretaker to a now senile Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart); with the help of Caliban(Stephen Merchant); one of the few remaining mutants in existence. When Logan is asked to help a young girl with mutant abilities, he does the only thing he can…he says no. However, Charles steps in and pushes him towards doing the right thing. Now, Logan and Charles must protect this young mutant from Donald Pierce (Boyd Holbrook) and his gang of "Reavers". Will Logan be able to return to the Wolverine he was? Or, has this mutant been declawed for good?
Mangold has pulled off the impossible. Like “Deadpool,” “Logan” was made on a smaller budget than previous “X-Men” films. This works in its favor because this feels like a compelling independent drama. Mangold channels the tone of his previous hit “3:10 to Yuma” into “Logan.” This is a dark, gritty, violent western and it’s absolutely breathtaking. Mangold, Scott Frank and Michael Green write a brilliant script that is rooted in reality. Yes, there’s mutants and people with robotic limbs, but it never seems implausible. Everything feels real, but most importantly, everything looks real. The CGI is perfect, the practical effects are well executed, and the acting is flawless.
Jackman and Stewart are such a perfect combination on screen. Logan and Charles need one another; something that's been obvious since Bryan Singer’s first “X-Men” film. Jackman’s Logan is this tired and weary soldier that has to keep fighting in order to keep his sanity. Stewart’s Charles is now a crazy old man in the throws of dementia whose guidance comes in short bursts. Without these two performances, the addition of young Dafne Keen as Laura (a.k.a X-23) would not work. She bonds with Charles and fights by Logan’s side, but both Stewart and Jackman are clearly sharing wonderful chemistry with this novice young actress. As the three leads in this film, they give unbeatable performances.
“Old Man Logan” is one of my favorite graphic novels of all time. Perfect writing and gorgeous illustrations come together in a beautiful ballet. With that said, I thought it would be nearly impossible to do it because there’s so many characters from the Marvel Cinematic Universe that Fox couldn’t get. Well, they pulled it off with the Reavers and Boyd Holbrook. I still have to take major points off my review rating due to one minor flaw. This was a solid "A " film that gets sidetracked towards the end. Boyd Holbrook is a fantastic villain as Pierce, but then, they add new villains that make him seem less villainous. Holbrook was a perfect foe for Logan. Why do you need to add more villains that aren’t as developed? With that said, I had no other problems with “Logan.” It’s one of the best “X-Men” films in the series, and by far the best stand-alone Wolverine film.
“Logan” is dark, violent, stylistic, and most importantly, it stays true to the character. This is the perfect way to say goodbye to both Hugh Jackman and Patrick Stewart, who have both said this will be their last time portraying Charles Xavier and Logan. Director James Mangold will be releasing a black & white cut of this film. Some may not feel this is necessary, but I think it will enhance the viewing experience. Even so, it doesn’t matter what cut you see this film in, just go out and see “Logan.” This film is worth every full price ticket. BUT do not take your children! This is a hard, hard, hard, hard "R" with violence, nudity, and graphic language. Still, it’s a stellar film and it took me by such surprise that it will probably be on the hidden gems list come December.
REVIEW RATING: B+