a review by the Crow.
with a little assist by the Azure-Winged Magpie!
NOTE: Before we proceed, I should point out: While this review will NOT spoil Logan, it WILL, however, spoil some parts of Days of Future Past. If you’re interested in watching Days of Future Past unspoilt, don’t read this.
Don’t say we didn’t warn you…
So, we watched this movie prior to its release, but because of issues (relating to our epic plans for world domination!), we’ve been delayed a fair bit. Now, we aim to leave this review spoiler-free as much as we can. To my own credit, I haven’t spoilt this movie to anyone yet, and I intend to continue that trend.
In preparation for this movie, we marathoned the lot of: X-Men Origins: Wolverine (yuck! I had to sit through that big fat 1/10 in theatres twice), The Wolverine, and Deadpool (which we really should review, soon). And while yes, this movie is part of the FOX Marvel Movie series (as the entire X-Men series is), it is the only part of said series that focuses on a single character.
Picking up from after the events of X Men: Days of Future Past, this movie shows us the world that the Wolverine, Professor X, Magneto, and all their ilk brought into existence after “saving” everyone from the world shown in the last movie.
Just to recap, the timeline, according to the latest sequence of events from Wolverine’s perspective, is this:
- X-Men Origins: Wolverine*
- X-Men: First Class
- X-Men: Days of Future Past*
- X-Men Origins: Wolverine*
- X-Men: Apocalypse
- X-Men Origins: Wolverine*
- X-Men: The Last Stand
- The Wolverine
- X-Men: Days of Future Past*
The * refers to movies which happen across the events of others. Here’s a visual representation of how things have come along so far:
That little red section is somewhat noteworthy, since while it doesn’t really have to be a split in the timeline, it does change events that we’ve seen earlier in this movie franchise. But that’s an issue for another time. At some point in the future, I’ll delve into the X-Men timeline, and discuss certain issues that arise from it (as well the many contradictions most people generally gloss-over), but for the moment: we at least have a clearer ground from which to talk about Logan.
So, let’s talk about Logan.
SO, WHAT HAPPENS, BUB?
WARNING: THE FOLLOWING SECTION CONTAINS [MINOR] SPOILERS
Logan opens years into the future following the events of Days of Future Past. At the end of that movie, Logan (Hugh Jackman), waking up in the “new” timeline (I have no idea why I choose to put those quotes around new, since this is a new timeline), sees the world back to a version of normalcy. Professor X comes and meets him, and catches him up to speed. And already in Days of Future Past‘s “prime” timeline, Logan is sporting streaks of silver in his hair. Jean Grey is alive, Cyclops is alive, the school’s doing well. Hooray! Everything’s jus’ peachy!
No. Of course not.
Logan‘s world shows us the consequence of that victory. Mutants have nearly been wiped out, Charles Xavier (Sir Patrick Stewart) is both ageing and ailing, and Logan’s age-old healing factor is beginning to fail on him. There are threats everywhere one looks: from roaming, cyberised, private contractors (the Reavers) to little everyday parts of American life such as corn syrup (no, that’s not a joke). In this strange new world, Logan ekes out a living as a chauffeur, while taking care of Professor X along with the mutant Caliban (Stephen Merchant). But it’s only for mutants that the world has become so bad. The rest of the world, while not entirely sparkly, seems to be liveable enough for us non X-gene folk.
Logan himself is jaded, his healing factor is failing on him, leaving him in a constant state of chronic pain, his claws’ spring-action snikt!-out has gone a bit spotty, his eyesight is failing, and he’s not sniffing around like he used to. He’s been carrying around an adamantium bullet for when the day comes that it’s too much for him to take.
Enter Gabriela (Elizabeth Rodriguez): this nurse from South of the border. She begs Logan to escort Laura – a young girl (Dafne Keen) North. Logan, true to his character and his concern for his duties regarding Professor X, declines with an f-word thrown in to boot. Soon after, Donald Pierce (Boyd Holbrook) enters Logan’s concept-looking Chrysler 2024 (me likey!) and quizzes him in regards to some punks Logan diced up a bit in the opening sequence of the movie, and in regards to Gabriela. Pierce says Gabriela has a possession of his that he wants back, and leaves Logan his card.
Gabriela eventually manages to trick Logan into visiting her on the job. She pleads with him to take up the job she’s asking him to do. Logan continues to reject her request, even in the face of the $50k she offers him (which he could definitely use to buy that boat he’s after). Logan leaves with $20k and a set of co-ordinates Gabriela gives him, only to return following a text message from Gabriela, who – as he finds out – has been murdered. And what about Laura? She’s nowhere about.
Laura (who, as anyone who’s seen the trailers or knows the comics well will know is a very special little girl) is at his place when he returns. Professor X has taken a very adorable liking to her in the short time that she has been at his home (seriously, Sir Patrick, stop; my crush on you has limits, but you’re making me cross them).
Pierce shows up shortly after to claim his possession – Laura. And it’s at this point that I shall stop in order to save you from spoilers.
On the whole, I thought Logan‘s story is very solid, but it’s not what I’d call spectacular; not that it needs to be, since it does the job it sets out to do very well. The writing on display is a delight in a movie of this type, and while it has a few (debatably) questionable character decision moments, it manages to weave quite the intricate plot through its ~140 minute runtime. It has a simple enough basis, and ends with a pretty expected – although poetic – confrontation, but it has far better story moments than most of the X-Men movies so far. It’s no masterpiece, but this is as good as a movie starring the Wolverine can get.
There are a few scenes in particular I would go over in a little more detail if not for spoilers. The “comic-book” scene is the only one I’ll mention for now. The ramifications of that single scene bring up a lot of possibilities to do with the X-Men franchise. Like I said, I think I’ll be doing a “unified timeline” post regarding this particular franchise (with both the Deadpool movie and the character Mr Sinister definitely featuring in it), the ramifications of the scene in question would be best suited for that post (it will be a while before it shows up, however).
But then again, plot’s not all there is to a movie, let’s talk about the other aspects to this movie.
SO, HOW WAS IT DONE, BUB?
Logan is a slick, stylish product that showcases the best of both the title character and his young companion. The visuals are well-handled and don’t really leave much space for improvement. The sound is equally well-handled, but there’s not really much out of the ordinary to it.
Returning to the writing for a while, I think that while the story is great, the “final boss” of the movie could’ve been improved upon a little. There’s nothing wrong with it, and it’s handled really well when it comes into the movie, but it was the one part of the movie I think could have been added to in order to push the movie up a notch.
But, here’s where that loops back into one of the movie’s greatest strengths: the action sequences.
This is a Wolverine movie. This is a movie about a guy with blades snikt!-ing out of his hands, with a berserker-rage haunting his every violent move. And finally! we get him in a R-rated feature. There are claws sticking through skulls, limbs getting cleft from bodies, primal screams, horrific Spanglish, and a few moments that made me cross my legs together like a girl trying to hold in pee and moan for jewels squished by claws (even though the dudes on the receiving end were bad guys. Actually, I propose that the particular strike I’m on about is a very specific reference I’m surprised to see included in the movie).
And I love it! I still think that Deadpool was essentially a “test” to see if a movie like Logan could work (which is why Deadpool‘s basically half-a-movie, in my eyes). And Logan‘s action sequences indeed work.
And how could they work so well if they weren’t put together so well? The action choreography (everything to do with the fight scenes or chase scenes) are incredibly well-directed and produced. It’s gritty and brutal, and it’s very much the most realistic we’ve seen so far. Reducing the players down to a small handful of “action” mutants improves the stakes on offer by a huge margin. And the pay-off is certainly worth it.
The feel of the movie mirroring classic Westerns is another added plus. The backdrop, more than anything else, paces the movie for us, and it does it ever-so sneaky-style. And that just shows quality of production this movie has to offer.
The marketing made a few slip-ups here and there (well, okay, quite a few), but it did manage to secret quite a few of the movie’s surprises, adding yet another feather to Logan‘s cap.
The core characters all share great chemistry (to be honest, it’s the best I’ve seen across all of the X-Men movies), and on that subject…
SO, HOW WERE THE PEOPLE, BUB?
JAMES HOWLETT / LOGAN / WOLVERINE / X-24 | Hugh Jackman
Hugh Jackman’s portrayal of Logan is (as always) on-point. He pulls off the almost-Old Man Logan-but-also-still-the-Wolverine-we-know-from-the-movies with ease. There’s not much to really say about his performances other than the fact that he nails them. Perfection.
PROFESSOR X / CHARLES XAVIER | Sir Patrick Stewart
Look, I grew up revering Jean-luc Picard, and I always liked Professor X before the era of “Professor Picard” was even a thing. How could I ever dislike this character? That said… Sir Patrick Stewart blew me away with considerable telepathic force. This man has yet to turn in a performance I do not like. The scenes in which he communicates, or attempts tocough!, with Laura in Spanish are just straight-up adorable (“choo-choo!”). He plays the ailing, fading Professor X with both an air of grace and an ever-present frailty that’s almost hard to watch once one remembers how authoritative the man can be.
X-23 / “LAURA KINNEY” | Dafne Keen
Okay. She kicks butt. While yes, she has little to actually say in the movie, Dafne Keen was easily one of the highlights of it. At certain points it was plain obvious that she was just flush having fun with the whole damn thing, and her enthusiasm comes off very well in the finished product. She was great, despite her happy smiles showing up at certain bits. And that Spanglish… holy heck.
Damn… These ratings. That’s all high praise coming from me.
Now, my final rating for this movie might surprise you, given how much praise I’ve been doling out to it over the course of this review. But I stand by my statement that while I loved this movie, it’s far from perfect, and is only awesome because it’s the closest we’ve seen to a genuine Wolverine movie. It certainly holds its own, and it manages to be one of the best X-Men movies yet made (and possibly the best overall), but it’s no masterpiece. The Azure-Winged Magpie, on the other hand, loved the movie. (Unfortunately, apart from her final rating, she won’t be contributing anything more to this post like originally planned since she’s busy with our next post.)
Logan is a fine movie, and is worthy of a watch. However, I think people are getting a little too carried away with it. Despite the amazing action scenes and the sheer brutality on display, it manages to balance said action with a very delicate emotional package that hits all the right spots. Could it have been improved? Yes. Does it do its job well? Yes as well.
It’s a fine movie by all means, and I highly recommend you watch it.
THE CROW: 7.5/10
THE AZURE-WINGED MAGPIE: 9/10
Now, before I take off, why don’t I share with you this lovely poster made by Bill Sienkiewicz?