Logan – (Movie)

MV5BOTAwZjYyNDYtNjIyMS00N2ZmLTk1ZjQtZTY2MzY1MDYyNzZjXkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyNDg2MjUxNjM@._V1_SY1000_CR0,0,1502,1000_AL_I have no witty caption to add here.  He’s too hot for me to think straight.  (Ah, there it is)

(SPOILER ALERT) Logan promised to be the Wolverine movie that fans have been waiting for. I have always found Wolverine overrated but have enjoyed Hugh Jackman in the role. So after appearing in at least 9 movies (whether he fit or not), we are wrapping up his character in 20th Century Fox’s farewell to Jacksman. Let’s get on with this review, bub.

If you are a comic fan, you realize that Logan is gently inspired by Old Man Logan. If you aren’t a comic fan, this means that it is going to be less about special effects and more about emotional ones. It’s a melancholy romp that begins with Logan living out in the desert caring for Professor Charles Xavier (again played by Patrick Stewart), with help from Caliban (played by the equally delightful Stephan Merchant, who out of make-up is kind of hot in a nerdy way. In make-up, he’s the visual representation of suffering.) A woman seeks out Logan to help because (like in most X-men movies, whether it makes sense or not) he’s the only one who can. She has a young mutant girl who she wants to get to a safe-haven before the bad guys that experimented on her destroy her.

The best points of the movie are sometimes the worst. Reflecting on the positives; Stewart as Xavier is always a rich experience and here we get to see him stretch his acting in the role. Xavier is far less confident and capable, now presented as a bed ridden senior who can’t control his powers. It’s a fascinating look into that character’s future. Aside from still being insanely attractive (like your friend’s hot dad in high school), Jackman gives a sturdy performance. Merchant gives more than expected, achieving sympathy without being completely one note. You can imagine different stages of his life just by what you get to see on screen.

The general cinematography is clean and steady (thank goodness the director, James Mangold, didn’t go into shaky cam territory). The story is not without holes (we’ll get to those in a moment). It does strive to be something deeper than a Hollywood blockbuster and I appreciate that effort.

My problems with the movie range from writing to it’s message. I was bothered that the nurse who rescues Laura (played by Dafne Keen) was able to send a fully edited video from her phone…That she took time to do it and wasn’t caught while filming quite a bit of footage in the secret facility are both questions that drew me out of the scene. Speaking of Laura, there is little transition seen as Laura goes from a feral mute child to this weeping and protective little girl. Was Xavier’s death supposed to motivate the change in her? Was Logan’s love? Was it the chips she ate that certainly contained corn syrup that changed her? There was no focus on this change. It just happened.

Let’s talk about the black family in Oklahoma that gets slaughtered. I’ll ignore the jokes about southern stereotypes for now and ask…What was the point in terms of the story and character development? Did I miss something? These people were HIGHLY open to letting a stranger with tons of scars all over him bring his “father” and mute “daughter” come in and have dinner, then stay overnight. Then, once they are wiped out, there is no reference or mention of them. No moment to have Logan reflect on the family he lost or what it means to be family. It all seemed like a very lengthy plot device that was conveniently and quickly wiped from the story.

Meaning was also lacking for me in the final fight between the mutants and the soliders/agents. Logan came to help the kids and his daughter. Fine. But wouldn’t the movie have shown his paternal attachment to Laura by letting him fight FOR her instead of WITH her against the bad guys? It’s like they bonded through slaughtering people and the Logan dies. Are we supposed to believe that Laura is somehow no longer the violent, ready-to-kill-a-cashier, thieving little girl he was on a road trip with? Would she go on a killing spree if someone didn’t give her enough corn? Laura’s character had no real development…she was just conveniently what she needed to be at certain points in the movie.

Certainly, Laura’s final act of turning the cross on its side to make an “X” was intended to be an image depicting the X-men…but that gesture came across anti-God. Would it not have been better to lay the cross down over his grave (as not to draw attention to it) and turn the camera to make an “X” out of it? Why did she do that? It felt like it was supposed to really mean something, but wasn’t sure what?

This movie is littered with “The Walking Dead” type violence and enough foul language to fill a Tarantino movie. Was THAT what fans were waiting for? Were execs thinking “Deadpool made us money and fans. Let’s raise the vulgarity on Wolverine…who tons of children have been watching for 17 years?”  What point did it prove except that the movie was edgy? The violence itself wasn’t part of the moral message, was it?

This is an escort plot that has been done plenty of times (Violet, The Professional, Taxi Driver, etc.) Grizzled character protects young child that is special. Despite the laughter and gore, violence and profanity don’t make a movie better. Sometimes it belongs and sometimes it doesn’t. To say those things add to a movie is like a 10 year old giggling at “poop.”  Deadpool was the movie where it worked. That movie was basically teen angst and attitude. Here, it felt like they were pushing hard to prove how cold this world was and to be taken seriously.

This leads me to a side gripe. Since when was it wrong for a comic book superhero movie to be fun, bright, and action-packed? I realize The Dark Knight is considered to be the template to which we judge all superhero movies, but not everything needs to have Batman’s raw brooding seriousness. What is so wrong with just watching good guys take down bad guys without some internal struggle, the word “f*ck” for audience to giggle at, or nudity?

With all that said, Logan was a good movie…especially when compared to all the other Wolverine movies. Is it one of the greatest superhero movies ever? I…guess so? It lacked some imagination, but had some interesting plot points (like Xavier’s seizures). If there was a message, it didn’t come through in the action for me. So I was left feeling a little hollow about the characters I was supposed to root for at the end credits. It was a thoughtful movie and perhaps I judge it harshly because it could have gone further in summarizing its point. I prefer movies like X-Men: United and Deadpool to this noir-embellished grit fest. I don’t want to be depressed for an hour and a half. Logan  might have served someone like me better if they had done even more to show this was a different world. Shoot it in black and white and go full noir? Explore the comparison between the comic book and real life that Logan touched on?

Most people enjoy this movie and I can respect that. We had little to go on before.

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