Review: Logan (★★★½)

3-5-stars

Logan is a weird one in my eyes. It tries so hard to stand away from the previous X-Men titles yet it still suffers from many of the issues that plague many superhero movies. What it gets right works so well. The toned down and more personal story of ageing and family allow for more nuanced and richer performances. Despite this, weak villains, inharmonious editing and issues with the character of Logan himself, makes the movie not as special as it strives to be.

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Logan sees the titular character at his last threads. He’s old and not as fit as he once was, both physically and mentally. There aren’t many mutants left and there haven’t been any new ones discovered for 25 years. Logan cares for Charles Xavier, who he himself is suffering from the inevitable burdens of ageing. It is on their journey that they meet a young mutant called Laura, who they strive to protect from the government agencies that are trying to capture her.

Hugh Jackman and Patrick Stewart offer their best performance as their respected characters and seeing a final chapter in what has been nearly a 20-year saga, with 9 movies, is deeply touching and emotional. I’d argue it has the same weight as the final Harry Potter movie, leaving me a bit breathless as I left the cinema. We have grown to love these characters and seeing their story arc end in the way it does can only be applauded.

Despite this, my reaction to Logan was quite extreme, moments of the film were so far removed from the grounded story James Mangold was trying to tell with his neo-western setting, that it just made me sigh in disappointment. The villains were so weak. The ultimate weapon that they reveal halfway through the film is so corny and been done a million times before that it genuinely surprises me that it survived the cutting room.

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The violence is here. Finally, after the success of Deadpool, studios are seeing that 15 rated superhero movies can not only be successful but can also be much better than their much more expensive counterparts. But with the violence comes issues I have with its pacing and editing. Logan is old, weathered and getting weaker. Yet, the action displays this ferocious energy that isn’t sincere. The editing is as fast as any blockbuster action movie. I really wanted, and expected, to see fight scenes with every impact counting. Logan cannot take the damage he once could, so the fact that the scraps are so damaging to him makes the poignancy of his deuterating fragile body meaningless. I expected thoughtful, defensive fighting were each blow has impact and every action is thought through. Almost like a boxing match, or like the fight between Batman and Bane in The Dark Knight Returns.

With the allowance of violence, it also seems bizarre that during the editing, the choice was made to cut on impact. This ultimately makes a slow burning, personal story jarring to the eye. Laura on the other hand spins, flips and kicks ass throughout, which makes sense with the editing choice. It would have been more touching and clever to have two editing styles for the two fighters and at the end merge them together; not only see how slow Logan has become, but to show the two characters coming together after so many differences throughout the movie.

The final issue I had with Logan was that of the character himself. Although he is ageing, he and Laura can still regenerate. This loses the minute tension that is built from the pursuit by the weak villains and ultimately led me to not care about the two central characters.

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Despite this, there is still a lot to love about Logan. It’s a step in the right direction and a touching farewell to the Wolverine we’ve grown to love for the past 20 years. With the setup of Laura’s character (X-23), I believe we won’t be seeing another onscreen adaptation of the character for many years to come. Logan is a perfect passing the torch movie and although my criticisms are heavy, they only occur due to the wealth of potential I saw within it.

 

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