‘Logan’ Review | Lone Wolv and Cub: Claws of Vengeance
With every decision there are repercussions, both good and bad, and while the decision to make large, interconnected franchises out of our most popular superheroes is satisfying from the perspective of serialization it has also robbed those films of any sense of finality. We cheer because the Avengers or the X-Men or the Suicide Squad have won the battle, but there are eight more movies on the horizon, so we know that they’ll never win the war.
Kudos, then, to everybody who gave the okay to Logan, a film that could easily be the end of the X-Men franchise if that’s what 20th Century Fox wanted (even though apparently it’s not). The film takes place in the year 2029, where mutants are almost extinct, and even the seemingly immortal Wolverine – played by a grizzled and craggy Hugh Jackman – appears to be dying. It’s the end of the road for these characters, and that gives every little thing they do more dramatic weight than everything that happened in X-Men: Apocalypse.
Logan is a film of little things. Whatever grandeur the franchise used to have has been washed away, and now even the legendary Wolverine has taken a job as a limousine driver. He argues with Caliban (Stephen Merchant) over the cost of prescription drugs, which they need to keep nonagenarian Charles Xavier’s (Sir Patrick Stewart) deteriorating mind from having psychic seizures that incapacitate everyone around him. Logan hasn’t given up on life because it’s been hard on him, even though it most certainly has. He’s not waiting for something new to live for. He’s just old. He doesn’t dream of redemption, he dreams of retiring with his oldest and only friend on a boat.
That sense of uncomfortable reality is pervasive throughout Logan, even after the plot kicks in and he finds himself protecting one last mutant child, Laura (Dafne Keen), from a gang of privatized cyborg bounty hunters. He still has to give the old man his meds. The car sometimes won’t start. The action sequences are a cross between Hell or High Water and Baby Cart, efficiently savage and full of severed limbs, and aside from one man fighting many, they’re about as grounded as this genre gets. No enormous set pieces here. Just vicious brawls.
James Mangold previously directed The Wolverine, an enjoyable film that pit Logan against the Yakuza, which combined the elements of crime movies and over the top superhero yarns with sloppy results. He’s found the right balance here. Logan is a contemporary western first and a superhero movie second or third, focusing so much on the severe drama that you sometimes forget that the bad guys have robot hands or that one of the heroes can kill people with his mind.
And because Logan is allowed to end – and if it wants to, REALLY end – all bets are off. Anything actually can happen because the filmmakers aren’t saving anything for ride home. The helicopter is Bingo fuel and we’re still moving forward, because there’s nothing to go back to. They’ll get Laura where she needs to go if it kills them, and since Logan really does feel like the last Wolverine story, and because it’s not afraid to be violent and depressing, we believe it very well could.
I’d hesitate to call Logan the best superhero movie ever, since it represents only a small fraction of what the genre can do, but there’s an argument to be made and I wouldn’t go out of my way to fight it. The film reflects the bellicose and world-weary psychology of the warriors whose battles inspire us, long after their prime, and it forces us to think about just how human our heroes are. It looks like a small production but really, it feels like the biggest X-Men movie. It has more to say than any other installment. It leads to meaningful conclusions. It is brutal and bold and it shouldn’t be missed.
11 Action Movie Sequels That Overshadowed The Original:
Top Photo: 20th Century Fox
William Bibbiani (everyone calls him ‘Bibbs’) is Crave’s film content editor and critic. You can hear him every week on The B-Movies Podcast and Canceled Too Soon, and watch him on the weekly YouTube series What the Flick. Follow his rantings on Twitter at @WilliamBibbiani.