THE STORY - In the near future, a weary Logan cares for an ailing Professor X in a hide out on the Mexican border. But Logan's attempts to hide from the world and his legacy are up-ended when a young mutant arrives, being pursued by dark forces.
THE CAST - Hugh Jackman, Patrick Stewart, Richard E. Grant, Boyd Holbrook, Stephen Merchant & Dafne Keen
THE TEAM - James Mangold (Director/Writer), Scott Frank & Michael Green (Writers)
THE RUNNING TIME - 135 Minutes
THE GOOD - Story and character above all else. Jackman will forever be Logan/Wolverine. The Western influences coupled with the use of the R rating make "Logan" feel inspired.
THE BAD - Villains are not as developed as the heroes.
THE OSCAR PROSPECTS - Best Actor, Best Supporting Actor & Best Makeup
THE FINAL SCORE - 9/10
FULL REVIEW 1
By Kristen L.
When the first “X-Men” film arrived in 2000 no one knew what to expect from a comic-book adaptation. They already have pictures, so did we really need them to be filmed? Even more of an unknown was the Australian actor set to play fan favorite Wolverine, Hugh Jackman. Seventeen years and eight films later Jackman returns as the mutton-chopped man with the adamantium claws in “Logan,” a moody throwback to classic Westerns that’s not afraid to make with the gore this time around with an R rating (A first for the series).
The year is 2029 and no new mutants have been born in 25 years. Logan (Hugh Jackman) is saving up money to buy a boat and sail off into the sunset. But when he meets a mysterious little girl named Laura (Dafne Keen) he finally gets a chance to be the hero he never claimed he was.
As a character, Wolverine’s gone through a rollercoaster of film tones, yet his personality as a rough and taciturn man whom, like Humphrey Bogart’s Rick in “Casablanca,” doesn’t want to stick his neck out for nobody. Wolverine’s always had the air of a Western hero and in “Logan” director James Mangold, himself the helmer of the great remake of “3:10 to Yuma,” takes the initiative to turn Logan into a clawed John Wayne-like character.
The “X-Men” series has always been one to leapfrog over installments audience members don’t like. So when “Logan” jumps ahead thirty years from the events in last year’s “X-Men: Apocalypse,” it’s a start towards erasing the bad taste that movie left in audience's’ mouths. Honestly, though, it’s doubtful whether ignoring that past is necessary when the present is so damn good! Director James Mangold, as well as screenwriters Scott Frank and Michael Green, create an incredibly clean narrative for a film that slathers on every form of ugliness, whether it be literal blood or the all-too-real image of a gang of frat boys screaming “USA!” from the sunroof of a limousine as they drive into Mexico. This is a world splashed in equal shades of gray, and blood red.
“Logan’s” narrative is rife with allusions to Westerns of the studio era with an eye towards acknowledging the past while standing on its own merits. Logan teams up with a little girl seeking a new way of life just like in “True Grit” with a massacre of a good-hearted family that has shadows of “The Searchers” within it. There’s even an extended sequence of Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart, in fine form, as always) watching “Shane,” whose plaintive ending will act as a secret spoiler to movie buffs aware of the Alan Ladd film’s ending. These forays into the past act as a guide, giving Logan the tools to not only get Laura to Eden, the film’s “Green Place” where she’ll be safe but also to finally find the redemption he’s had in the back of his mind for nine movies.
There’s a fear in “Logan’s” first few minutes that the R-rating will become detrimental, played for laughs like a small child discovering the F-word and repeating it endlessly. Jackman gets the first few F-bombs out and after that, the movie gets over the novelty and uses it when necessary. What’s surprising to see, more than a comic character saying “shit,” is the violence. “Deadpool” was violent, but it was easy to see the overuse of CGI in the fake blood. Here, fake blood or not, the effects look pretty damn practical. Heads are chopped, claws enter throats from the wrong angle, it’s like the Kama Sutra of mutilation. The most fun discovery is when Laura uses claws in her feet.
Where comic book adaptations are grossly overextended, “Logan” never wastes a second of a two-hour runtime that feels remarkably lean. Logan’s life as a limo driver in Texas plays like a brief fever dream into the worst excesses of vice, complete with a shot of boobs that I’d never have predicted in a movie preceded by Marvel’s comic book page flip. This smoothly segues into his meeting with Laura’s caregiver Gabriela (Sensitively played by Elizabeth Rodriguez in an all too brief appearance) and the introduction of the horrific ICE agents...oops, I mean Reavers, led by Donald Pierce (Boyd Holbrook). A brief divergence to the home of a family offering Logan and Laura help, gives them a quiet chance to contemplate a life of domesticity - as all good gunslingers do - only to have a beautiful dream turned into a living nightmare.
It’s amazing how, in a landscape where action rules the day, especially in the Marvel and DC universe, that “Logan” feels quiet and contemplative. It’s not that loud action scenes don’t happen, and they happen often, but they’re nicely balanced by moments of melancholy. Laura finds herself alone in the universe; Logan desperately wants to care for someone without them dying; Charles wants a chance to be a hero again. All of these characters dream of better lives, not just as superheroes, who always bemoan their inability to be “normal,” but as human beings.
Jackman, Stewart, and newcomer Keen are all amazing. You have to smile at his lengthy career with director James Mangold. The man knows how to get a good performance out of Jackman, even in something like “Kate and Leopold” (Which is a movie I love in spite of its flaws). We’ve seen the aggressive loner side of Jackman, but here there’s a deeper, existential flaw at his center that culminates with a simple line that resonates with the audience at the end. Stewart’s Charles Xavier hasn’t taken center stage like his younger iteration played by James McAvoy, and here he evokes a character Walter Brennan could have played in the ‘50s. Dafne Keen - and, really, all the child actors here - is hilariously wicked as Laura. Mute for over 50% of the film, she’s almost like 1970s Spanish child star Ana Torrent in her ability to convey wells of emotion with her face. The weakest links in the chain are the facets of the story that feel like they came from a comic book. Boyd Holbrooke and Richard E. Grant’s baddies come and go into the narrative like boogeymen, but lack the gravitas of a villain of substance. They’re less Loki, more William Stryker without the added depravity of an actor like Brian Cox, or even Danny Huston. Holbrooke’s smarm and Grant’s coolness are admirable, but it’s hard to gauge any connection to their characters short of “bad scientist dudes.”
“Logan” acts as both a farewell and a hello, the capstone of the comic book movement “X-Men” started seventeen years ago, as well as the beginning of a new wealth of stories. It’s doubtful that the studio will avoid returning to the characters established in “Apocalypse.” It’s pretty much been reported that they’ll be back. But it’ll be hard to top what “Logan” sets out to do, which is tell a story first and sell toys later.
FULL REVIEW 2
By Matt N.
Every couple of years, there is a superhero film that changes the game. Superhero films and Marvel in general, have received their fair share of criticism from many and myself included for being too predictable and a blatant cash grab to simply set up the next film. "Logan" breaks those boundaries and claws its way into film history by daring to be different. In doing so, it has now become the best and most transcendent superhero film since "The Dark Knight." It may be Hugh Jackman's swan song as the rough and tough reluctant hero but what he and director James Mangold pull off here is nothing short of magnificent.
"Logan" takes place years after the world's final mutants are all but extinct. The only two to have seemingly survived seem to be former X-Men, Wolverine/Logan (Hugh Jackman) and Professor Xavier (Patrick Stewart). The once indestructible mutant with super healing powers, which are now slowly failing, is working as a limo driver in Texas to take care of his once all-powerful mentor, Charles Xavier. Logan is hiding him south of the border in Mexico along with the help of another surviving mutant named Caliban (Stephen Merchant) who can sense and track other mutants. Logan knows, despite Xavier's failing health, that he is still valuable to many government agencies such as Transigen (Boyd Holbrook & Richard E. Grant), who see his mind as a weapon of mass destruction. When a mysterious, young girl named Laura (Dafne Keen) enters into Logan's life, he embarks on one final mission to avoid Transigen, save the people he cares about and find redemption for himself.
I want to take a moment here to first praise Hugh Jackman who has owned the role of Logan/Wolverine for the last seventeen years. This being his last time playing the character, he gives not only his best performance as the now iconic character but one of the best performances of his career which in my opinion, should not be written off come awards time. It's physical, it's emotional, it's reflective and it totally lets loose in all of its R-Rated glory. Same goes for Patrick Stewart as Professor Xavier, who now nearing the end of his life and his once brilliant mind slipping away has an incredibly emotionally affecting role as the father figure to Logan. Their relationship is the beating heart of Logan. Coming in at a second place though in terms of emotion is the relationship between Laura and Logan. Dafne Keen gives a tremendous youth performance here as the mute and mysterious mutant that speaks to Logan's conscience just as much as Professor Xavier does. This trio of performances helps to elevate "Logan" to a higher level. It's just a shame that the film lacks a compelling enough villain, even though there are two here, to help balance things out.
However, "Logan" does not need a strong villain to go against Wolverine, as this film is more of an internal battle and character study for its lead character, helping to push it away from the standard superhero conventions. James Mangold does not direct "Logan" as just another Marvel entry in a long line of standard studio releases. This is a western that functions as a dark character piece with seventeen years of pain and buildup, leading up to one final film for the hero we have all grown up loving. Ultimately, "Logan" is a film about redemption and hope, in a bleak and dark world. It's the end game and the stakes have never felt as real as they do here. Are you tired of thinking that the heroes will surely survive, so the studio can make the next sequel? Well, if you're tired of the formula, then "Logan" is the film for you. It's a game changer and James Mangold should be commended for directing what is not only one of the best superhero films of all time but a great movie all on its own.
Dark, bloody (Extremely so), and passionate towards its leading character, "Logan" is pure fan service and a tremendous sendoff for a character that has given us such joy over the years as we have seen him struggle, grow, get broken down and built back up again. "Logan" reaches new heights in terms of storytelling for the superhero genre that will continue to push the boundaries as to what we can expect from Marvel and other studios. It also features Hugh Jackman's best performance as the former X-Man with a long and tormented history that lends itself well to a modern western storytelling model. If you never thought that the superhero genre could ever be interesting again, look no further than "Logan." After seventeen years, comic book fans, X-Men fans, Wolverine fans and fans of the movies in general should be thankful for what James Mangold, the cast, and crew have given us here. So on behalf of all of them I say, thank you, James Mangold. Thank you, Patrick Stewart. And thank you, Hugh Jackman. You have done Wolverine/Logan proud.