As this is my first time writing about a contemporary movie, please be warned that spoilers follow below.
I really like Logan.
Against all odds and personal expectations, Logan succeeds in being an excellent comic book adaptation and a very good film. Perhaps I just have a soft spot for films which try to elevate themselves above genre conventions, such as Skyfall, but this film is an excellent character study. The economic storytelling in Logan is the perfect tonic for the bloated CGI fests that we have accepted as normal in theatres.
I actually have no idea how this came from the same guy who directed 2013’s The Wolverine (or: Wolverine Goes To Japan). Perhaps the studios finally realized after Deadpool that there was a demand for superhero films outwith the usual “bunch of heroes tell jokes in a room for 2 hours then save the world from blowing up” formula (not that I don’t enjoy quite a few of Marvel’s films).
What first impressed me in the film was the believable world of story. Logan takes place in 2029, but this is revealed in such subtle ways that one of my friends watching the film assumed the events took place in present day. You immediately feel that there is a world beyond what is taking place in the frame, and the combination of advanced tech and a tired, lived-in world reminded me much of the original Star Wars.
(The combination of the film taking place in 2029, the presence of augmented limbs, and Logan saying “I never asked for this.” also reminded me of Eidos Montreal’s recent Deus Ex games. Someone on the Logan team is obviously a fan.)
The weakest part of the film for me is also one where they made a lot of improvement compared to others in the series: the fight sequences. From the opening scene, it is clear that this Logan is not the unstoppable badass of previous films, but runs the risk of being seriously injured every time he enters the fray. Unfortunately, the film devolves into the standard third act showdown that most comic book films are guilty of (although it was quite refreshing to see the scientist villain of the film, Richard E. Grant, murdered mid-monologue instead of allowing him to finish his grandiose speech).
I’ve been a huge fan of Grant every since seeing him in BBC’s Posh Nosh, and I delight anytime he pops up in a film. The main antagonist here is obviously Boyd Holbrook’s engaging portrayal of the augmented Donald Pierce, but Grant holds his own as the man pulling the strings. One thing I couldn’t help but notice: Grant wears a safari jacket, a fairly uncommon item of clothing, in both Logan and the last film I saw him in, the tonally confused Dom Hemingway. What are the odds of this? Does Grant have a contract clause that lets him choose his own clothing? Does anyone have further information on this safari conspiracy?
Rounding out the film’s villains is X-24, a young clone of Logan with no instinct other than to kill. Jackman plays this character as well, de-aged about 20 years. I’m not sure if they used makeup, CGI, or both, but X-24 effectively contrasts with Logan to further drive home the film’s themes of new vs. old and technology vs. nature. Where was this tech for Jeff Bridges when Tron: Legacy was being made?
One thing that bothers me, in both Logan and many other films, is inconsistency when it comes to the speaker of a foreign language. Dafne Keen delivers a great first-time film performance as Laura, but I don’t understand why the writers keep trying to convince us that the character can only speak Spanish when she clearly understands and speaks English whenever it is appropriate for the plot.
To me, this film is the best entry in the series since X-Men: First Class (which I am apparently a monster for liking more than Days of Future Past). Even if Logan isn’t groundbreaking cinema, it entertains, affects, and raises the bar for comic book adaptations. Similar to how the original X-Men started Hollywood’s fascination with superheroes which continues to this day, we may one day look back on Logan as the film that finally proved that audiences were hungry for mature and human stories starring their favourite supers.