Logan Review – Teach Me How to Say Goodbye

It’s hard to describe Logan without tears streaming down my face. For so many years, the Wolverine film character has never lived up to his true greatness. Whether it’s stifling PG-13 ratings, jagged fight scenes, or  flimsy love triangles — his evolution has been rather stunted.

However, when the inspired by Old Man Logan storyline was announced at the 2016 San Diego Comic-Con, it promised to be the send-off movie our favorite clawed anti-hero deserved. Despite this, most promises end in disaster and the people who are left disappointment are always the fans.

I did not have hope for this movie coming in. However, 2 hours and 21 minutes later, I sat in the theater wanting to apologize to each and every person involved in this film.

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The year is 2024 and Logan is sick and tired; emotionally and physically. He walks with a limp — each step a reminder of his almost 200+ years of living. His body is marked with painful scars; etchings of his many battles. His eyes are now surrounded with crows feet, carrying the emotional pain of watching all his friends die twice (if you include The Days of Future Past storyline). The only thing that’s keeping him alive is Charles Xavier. Unfortunately, the man with the most powerful brain is now a shell of his former self. Battered and beaten by illness and regrets, Xavier is now heavily medicated and painfully decaying from dementia.

Logan and Charles who once lived life in public, helping others (though Logan was more reluctant) are privately tucked away in Texas living with Caliban (now played by Stephen Merchant), a mutant with tracking abilities to help locate others like him. Unfortunately, there are no new mutants. That is until an old friend, Donald Pierce and his cybernetically-enhanced enforcers, the Reavers, come knocking on the door to ask for Logan’s help to track down a dangerous 11-year old mutant girl by the name of Laura who is trying to escape across the border.

Instead of helping Pierce; Logan, Xavier and the girl travel to a place called Eden where the girl is seeking shelter and safety from those who want to use her for nefarious reasons.

Logan is a masterful film, slowly revealing itself as a character-driven story while staying true to the X-Men universe. Unlike other sequels, it doesn’t rely on the events of the previous films, thus allowing those less knowledgeable about the franchise to follow the story with ease. However, for those who are fans, there’s enough satiating references.

Unlike other Wolverine/X-Men films, Logan is a well earned R-rated journey filled with darkness, grit and reflective moments. Written and directed by James Mangold, it is a introspective examination of morality, suicide and living on the edge of hopelessness. Despite that, it also relies heavily on second chances and redemption. Incorporating Western themes, it is a visually stunning film where each moment is putty in cinematographer’s John Mathieson hands.

But don’t worry, for in its silent character study and strong storytelling, Logan is violent and harsh. Stripped away from the restrictions of PG-13, this film is finally able to cut and stab with such brutal force it can be compared to David Cronenberg’s A History of Violence. Heads literally roll while blood splatters more than an episode of Dexter. There are tight close-ups where each blade delivered to foes is a reminder that Logan is not meant to be fucked with.

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As a result of this film’s maturity, Hugh Jackman is able to finally act. Taking full advantage of this opportunity, he curses freely and frequently but it never comes across as being forced. Instead, it feels like a part of the character instead of a desperate attempt at being edgy. Jackman, an Oscar-nominated actor, is able to lose himself in the character. His intensity is captivating, wild-eyed and unkempt. He’s as believable as his co-stars Sir Patrick Stewart and Dafne Keen who bounce dialogue and chemistry off each other with ease.

Logan also has top-notch casting. Keen as Laura is a spitfire. While she remains silent for the majority of the time, she is deadly. A clone of Logan, she goes toe-to-toe with men three times her sizes with total brute force. Standing next to Jackman, she brings chills down foes spines. Viciously tearing people apart, I couldn’t contain my excitement. I wanted more. The action sequences are filmed with such experience, is it a feast that stays with you forever. However, there are two sides of Laura: deadly and vulnerable. Just like Jackman, Keen is able to express the sadness her life has bought her; born in a lab, she was created as a weapon. But with great sadness comes small moments when you are reminded that she’s still just a child. Stubborn, like Logan, she still clings to happy innocent moments like when she’s playing with children or being entertained by a mechanical horse.

Stewart, who rounds out the trio is a rare phenomenon. Unlike the confident teacher were used to seeing, Xavier is now frail, dependent and just as stubborn as the rest of them. Despite the dementia and the pain he carries from the unspoken events of the past, his humor shines throughout as there’s a newfound sense of adventure about him. But just like a switch, he is vulnerable and at times painfully heart-wrenching to watch.

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While this movie has a dynamic trio that grounds it and takes up the majority of the shine, the supporting cast is an awkward batch of randomness. Merchant’s version of Caliban is sarcastically charming and understanding. Unlike his previous stint, the character is purposeful as a co-caretaker of Xavier. He’s also more stressed out, as the task of caring for the elderly man is burdensome. Struggling with his loyalty to mutants and to the Reavers, depth is finally given to the character as he too searches for his purpose in life.

Unfortunately for Boyd Holbrook as Donald Pierce, there’s no dimension to his character as he’s forced to play it straightforward and atypical. Elise Neal and Eriq La Salle are touching as the head of a family whose paths intersect with our trio. They create a solemn moment by reminding Logan the reason to live is not to fight but to love. However, it’s Richard E. Grant as Dr. Zander Rice who suffers the most as just someone meant to fill the movie’s run time and drive the plot.

Even with these slight flaws, this does not take away the movie’s passion nor does it override its perfection. Logan is a fantastic (albeit very different) adaptation with heart, eloquence, and maturity. While it’s unfortunate we couldn’t get this level of expertise filmmaking with the other X-Men movies, Logan is a breathtaking way to end the character, honor the legacy of Hugh Jackman, and to finally prove that people should give a damn about superhero comic book movie adaptations.