Unpopular opinion; I didn’t enjoy Logan all that much. It’s absolutely not the best of the X-Men films. Now mind you, it’s not that this is a bad film per se, what I found myself not liking, was what happened to these characters then I have known and loved for decades. But I’m getting ahead of myself, let’s go back to the beginning.
Logan is the story of Wolverine in his later years as he tries to get the first new mutant born in 20 years across the border and to safety. Spoilers from here on out.
First and foremost, Logan is not designed to be a blockbuster. It’s not designed to be a summer tent pole movie – in fact it’s not really even designed to be a superhero movie. This is an old grind house film. There is a heavy Tarantino influence on it, cowboy pants and generic south-western settings, gritty violence along with a loner in a bullet ridden car – indeed all its missing is a scene in A darkened coffee house/family restaurant. Something 70s style, with rocks on the wall and waitresses in uniform (I waited all two hours for that and was shocked it didn’t happen). Logan is an old man now…although Hugh Jackman still manages to be the most stunningly beautiful “old” man I can imagine. Professor Xavier is still alive as well, but suffering from a brain disease – it’s never quite spelled-out if it’s Alzheimer’s or a variation of that, but he is certainly deteriorating. It’s a sad state to see Professor X in, and it feeds into the core of my old issues with the character. I need to like Professor X. I need to look up to him. One of my main problems with the X-Men first class films is that James McAvoy is Professor X is terribly unpleasant, and unfortunately, Patrick Stewart seems to be channeling a lot of that here. It’s more forgivable though, because it seems to be a result of his deterioration. The old optimistic, wise Professor X still manages to emerge from time to time and I’m reminded just how perfect Stewart has always been in this role.
Indeed, the fact that this was an X-Men movie with Patrick Stewart and Hugh Jackman starring once again, was what got me up to the theatre. It was not Wolverine that got me to this movie – I’ve never been a fan of the character. It was not the comic book hype – at this point there are so many comic book films out I can actually afford to be selective, and it certainly was not the R rating.
I appreciate the fact that they were able to do whatever they wanted with the higher rating, but just because you can do a thing does not follow that you necessarily must. The hyper violence that we are treated to is necessary, and actually has been missing a lot of times. We get a glimpse more of it in the R rated cut of The Wolverine (the previous film), but in Logan they really cut loose, showing exactly the kind of damage Wolverines claws and rage can inflict. I think it also allows them to get away with far more using the young child Laura, or as you’re more familiar in the comics – X-23. The scenes of her violence and devastation are very likely too disturbing to have ever managed a PG-13 rating. The soulless killing and lack of conscience that we see in her, may well have pushed this closer to an NC-17. Quite frankly, this is why Wolverine needed an R rating. Not just so that they would have an excuse to use the word “fuck” repeatedly.
This is one of those things that bugs me, that most of the uses of the word are unnecessary and when you pull out the F bomb too often, it loses its power. Every instance where it is preceded by the word “the” would’ve been better substituted with “hell”. It fits the speech pattern we’ve seen in the character previously. Professor X should never be using that word, it makes him look less intelligent (This is not an argument about whether intelligent people use adult language. It’s a statement about appearance – and film is ALL about appearance) . However the temptation, now that they have license to do so, appears to be just too strong and it’s a disappointment to me (particularly since its only the heroes that ever use the word! Did anyone else catch that?) It fits in Deadpool, which was always conceived as a blue comedy. For my money however, it detracts in Logan.
We knew that this was the final outing for both Jackman and Stewart, and about halfway through I started to get that vibe – the one that tells you somebody, if not everybody, is about to die. It makes sense, as a way to punctuate both of their tenures in these films, but in both cases the deaths felt anticlimactic. In Professor X’s case, it’s downright ignoble. His death in X-Men three was far more satisfying (and is there some unwritten rule that the third film in an X-franchise HAS to be depressing?), but at least here. He was able to have that one perfect day before the end. Wolverine’s demise is marginally better, it’s certainly more heroic. Nevertheless, for some reason it just doesn’t feel as spectacular and over the top as I would’ve liked. I understand it though, and it was a good decision to end the film this way. The last scene where we closed tight on his grave marker is brilliant, and it reminds us that we are still in the X-Men universe.
This film is a hard call for me, because while I enjoy the violence that we’ve finally gotten (and truthfully waited for so long), we also have to deal with the more depressing scenes of the film they go along with that. I don’t like the implication that the X-Men were wiped out by Professor X, that everyone is dead under such terrible circumstances. I don’t like the lonely end Xavier comes to – he deserves better than that. They all do. The film certainly has resolution, but it’s not the sort of resolution that leaves you feeling like everything is going to be okay, that all these characters are going to be safe and sound. It’s dirty, messy. It doesn’t feel like it belongs in a superhero movie.
But then again, like I said at the beginning, this – is not a superhero film.