Cinematic Releases: No Country for Old X-Men: Logan (2017) - Reviewed

"The world is not the same as it was, Charles. Mutants... they're gone now."

Wolverine is one of my favorite comic book characters—his viciousness combined with his search for tranquility and peace is riveting. While Hugh Jackman has done a commendable job portraying Logan for the past seventeen years, the character itself has been restricted by the confines of a PG-13 rating and has never been able to fully unleash the beast, as it were. With Logan, the third and final installment of the Wolverine solo films, director James Mangold has been given the ability to go all out (it’s rated R) and the results are brutal and dark.
Logan is very loosely based on Mark Millar’s Old Man Logan comic run from 2010 but it shares few similarities other than taking place in the future and Wolverine being older and not in his prime. The story follows a sick and tired Logan (Hugh Jackman) who is taking care of an elderly Professor X (Patrick Stewart) while living in hiding on the Mexican border. Unfortunately, Logan gets embroiled in the plight of a young mutant girl named Laura (Dafne Keen) and has to draw on his former abilities to protect her from nefarious forces. What sets this film apart from other comic book adaptations is the grounded and serious tone. This is by far the most grim and unrelentingly ruthless film in the X-Men cinematic universe. From beginning to end we have to watch the characters suffer greatly but that makes the small moments of respite and emotion all the more beautiful. Logan is at his lowest point both mentally and physically and his character arc throughout this film is so incredibly well done and realized. His road to redemption is fraught with many obstacles but his tenacity is inspiring.

I'm gonna make you wash my shirt right after we get done eating this pizza. 

One thing that may potentially turn off viewers is the pervasive and gratuitous violence depicted in this film. I personally felt that Wolverine seemed like he was “declawed” in the earlier X-Men films and that he wasn’t used to his full potential. Logan is definitely a “hard R” and the film pulls no punches in showing what damage Wolverine can do with his iconic adamantium claws. He stabs people through the head, cuts off arms and legs, and disembowels them. The gore and blood fly freely as do the curse words. Logan has never been one to mince his words and it’s cathartic to see him depicted like he is in the comics. This is the Wolverine that comic book fans have been clamoring to see for over a decade. Jackman is a fine actor and his ability to go between a savage animal and a tortured soul is amazing. Stewart puts in an excellent performance as the dementia-tinged Professor X and it’s poignant to see his subtle touches on the character. Keen steals the show as the mysterious and violent mutant child—her intense take on the character is fantastic.

Mangold should be commended for his restrained approach to the story. This could have easily been overshadowed by attempts to stuff in cameos from other superheroes but he chose wisely to keep the narrative laser-focused on the three primary characters. Everything is given plenty of room to breathe and develop and the film is paced well. I do think the first half of the film is stronger than the second half but only because it focuses more on development than action. Logan feels like a superhero story penned by Cormac McCarthy with its dusty locales and somber atmosphere. Even though there are characters with super powers it never feels out of place or overdone. The cinematography and subdued color palette gives the film a sense of legitimacy and gravitas not found in any other comic book movie. I loved Marco Beltrami’s musical score as well, with its mixture of haunting piano melodies and rumbling ominous strings. It’s quite effective and memorable.

Dang girl! You way more than a box of girl scout cookies!

The title Logan is telling—it’s simple and stripped down, much like the film. Logan explores themes of regret, self-hate, love, tragedy and finding your rightful place in life. I love the idea that even if you are brought up in a terrible environment, you don’t have to become a product of your upbringing. You have the power in your hands to change your destiny if you so wish.

--Michelle Kisner