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  • Logan | Review

    By | March 3, 2017

    logan

    Director: James Mangold

    Writers: James Mangold, Scott Frank, Michael Green

    Starring: Hugh Jackman, Patrick Stewart, Dafne Keen, Boyd Holbrook, Stephen Merchant

    Disclaimer: I think I’ve watched a total of two X-Men films in my life and I don’t remember them that all that well. I didn’t watch the last Wolverine film, I’m not crazy about Hugh Jackman, and at this point I’m, at best, ambivalent about superhero movies as a whole and about the Marvel film universe in general (the DC film universe doesn’t fare anywhere near as well as ambivalent with me). But I do love lean, mean, violent westerns and I do love Johnny Cash, so the trailer for Logan and the early word of mouth from insiders drew me in immediately. And boy, am I glad that I saw this film.

    With Logan, director James Mangold has delivered a minor masterpiece for what appears to be Jackman’s last turn as Wolverine (and hopefully Wolverine’s last Marvel film appearance until the inevitable future reboot). A spare and violent film, it earns it’s R-rating though its intense violence, recurring profanity, and overarching sense of darkness and despair. But it’s also tells an intensely heartfelt and emotion-inducing story, as Logan is drawn out of “retirement” to look after young Laura (Dafne Keen), who at first glance is need of a protector but who might in reality need more of a father figure, as she’s more than capable of protecting herself.

    Seemingly inspired by Eastwood’s Unforgiven and painted with a Peckinpah-esque brush (with the classic western Shane directly referenced in one scene), Mangold seems to have looked back in order to tell a story set in the future. And a bleak future it is, with no mutant births in decades and with Logan looking a shell of his former self, having hung up his super hero duds to become a grizzled, drunken chauffeur. He’s living in seclusion with, while also protecting, a deteriorating Professor X (Patrick Stewart) and an albino mutant named Caliban (Stephen Merchant).  But Logan is drawn out of drunken retirement to protect Laura and other genetically reproduced mutant children and lead them to a far away sanctuary.

    In Laura, it’s like Logan sees a part of himself he’d given up for dead and realizes is worth fighting for. And in Logan, Jackman turns in a fine performance, equal parts raging violence and introspective meditation. I found myself at times amazed by how much he resembles a mid-career Eastwood, who he seems to channel in his stunning minimalist performance that is continually somehow mesmerizing despite using few words in service of a superhero character that I’m prone to not care much about at all. Yet somehow, Jackman and Mangold and company managed to produce suspense and concern and emotion and even tears. Quite an accomplishment for yet another superhero film in a franchise that this reviewer has no affinity for. And a worthy swansong for a character and a franchise that many viewers are deeply invested in. Kudos to all involved.

    Rating: 8.5/10 

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