Review: Logan is the Brutal, Yet Wonderfully Authentic X-Men Film We Don’t Deserve
5 out of 5 claws.
*Note: This review contains mild spoilers hidden under spoiler tags.*
I’m not speaking hyperbolically when I say that Logan is the best, most exciting X-Men film to have made it to the big screen. Director James Mangold has put together something really genuine and special. The story is simple and purposeful, grounded and beautiful, and so brutally violent—it’s unlike any other movie in the franchise.
Loosely based on the comic Old Man Logan from writer Mark Millar and artist Steve McNiven, the story centers on Logan who has retired from crime fighting and turned to an Uber-like taxi service to pay the bills. Those bills include medication for octogenarian, sorry nonagenarian, Charles Xavier .
With most of the mutants wiped out, it’s just him, Logan and Caliban (played by the wonderful Stephen Merchant) left—or so they thought. Enter X-23, created in a top secret lab in Mexico. She, along with other mutant kids, were made to be trained killers employed by the military. But since scientists developed a new, soulless soldier to do their bidding, those children were now expendable and needed to be put down like dogs.
Call me savage but I find it oddly satisfying to see a young girl screaming like a banshee while striking down grown, muscled up men wielding guns with her bare claws. Props to newbie Dafne Keen, whose only other acting credit is the Spanish-language series Refugees, for bringing such an authentic maturity to the role. She holds her own against vets Hugh Jackman and Patrick Stewart like a pro and successfully navigates away from the clichés that befall many a child actor.
I guess authentic is a great word to describe this wonderfully tragic movie about an angry man with claws. He’s a broken down hero with faults, but you understand his hatred of the world and why it’s so hard for him to find the beauty in it. And because of the R-rating, you get to see him really let loose and dig his claws into skulls during rage fits because that is what a Wolverine is supposed to do. (Shoutout to composer Marco Beltrami for translating that rage into the perfect musical notes). I know the R rating suggested they did it just because they can (and because of Deadpool), but while the Merc with a Mouth certainly allowed them to have more creative freedom here, I can tell you that the higher rating really does make the film more authentic. Okay, there’s some gratuitous violence in there but I’m not complaining.
Logan illustrates the power of a good script, while also highlighting the weaknesses of the previous X-Men films—namely, the villains. Marvel films have a penchant for delivering utterly forgettable bad guys which is why I appreciate what Mangold, Michael Green and Scott Frank have done here. Richard E Grant’s Dr. Zander Rice ? Brilliant. Boyd Holbrook’s Donald Pierce? Fantastic. ? Yes, please.
I was also pleasantly surprised with the amount of representation in this movie. Since it takes place in parts of Texas and Mexico, it makes sense that Latinx characters like Elizabeth Rodriguez’s Gabriella are naturally weaved into the story. And with just a few minutes of screen time, Logan masterfully presents more fully-developed black characters than the whole of the MCU. Take notes, other superhero films. It’s not enough to just throw in a token POC as a sidekick or background character and call it a day. That’s actually super insulting.
I wasn’t sure I’d like this film because, like many, I developed Wolverine fatigue and wasn’t particularly impressed by the previous solo films. Some were good (Hey there, The Wolverine), others unwatchable (ugh X-Men: Origins), but Logan is a truly great film. 5 out of 5 stars.
Catch it in theaters on March 3.
(image via screencap)
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