Ahh, good ole X-Men. Time for me to gush.
For those of you that don’t know, I am not a comic book reader. I’ve only read so many in my life. It was just something I never really got into. However, I am a superhero fan, so I watch the movies religiously. The way that I’ve understood the relationship between the comic nerds and the movies is that they don’t generally like them. The characters aren’t faithful in either appearance, personality, or backstory. But for those who don’t read the comics, like myself, generally like the movies. They’re awesome, bad-ass, and who doesn’t love Hugh Jackman as Wolverine?
But as there’s far too many X-Men films to go through, let’s just talk about what this movie essentially is: a stand-alone Wolverine film. These are regarded as the worst of the X-Men films, and for good reason. For those of you that don’t know, the first was X-MEN ORIGINS: WOLVERINE (2009). As far as the comic goes to my knowledge, Marvel Comics kept Wolverine’s origins in secret for decades. When the comic came out that revealed it, it was celebrated and beloved. However, when the movie came out, it was soaked in horrible writing, and a ton of stupidity. How does that happen? It’s Wolverine! The fan favorite of each other the films! I mean, Jackman’s fine for what he has to do, but there are horrible missed opportunities and terrible choices.
The second was THE WOLVERINE (2013). In my opinion this the second worst X-Men film, or tied with how bad ORIGINS was. At the very least, I remember ORIGINS was memorable… er, for all the wrong reasons, but memorable. It was horribly written, but the story made sense. It was a stupid story and it wasn’t very faithful to the comic counterparts, but it made sense for what it was doing. THE WOLVERINE failed in it’s very ideas. Taking away Wolverine’s healing powers should have provided the story’s core tension, but it never did. He got shot, he would still walk and be okay. So… taking his powers carried zero weight, especially if he was just going to get them back.
Well, now we have our supposed final outing for Jackman as the titular character. I say… despite history, this might be a pretty damn good movie. There is certainly some intense passion behind the project. Jackman took a pay-cut so the film could be rated R, for God’s sake! Taking inspiration from the popular comic book Old Man Logan, it looks like the X-Men are no more for whatever reason, and Logan’s watching after Professor X. They come across a young girl who’s escaped from some bad dudes who want her back and Logan takes her under his wing, likely to control her rage and anger. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t excited for this.
Well let’s take a look at the talent on screen. Naturally, Jackman (EDDIE THE EAGLE , THE PRESTIGE , and seventeen years of X-Men films) reprises his role as Wolverine one last time. Er… supposedly. He says he’s open to more, so we’ll see what happens.
In any case, it’s wonderful to see him back and I’m hoping to see the same ferocity that he’s always brought. Jackman is probably one of the most popular actors in Hollywood, and never mind his unbelievable talent, he’s unbelievably kind. What an awesome combo in a celebrity as high profile as he is! If this truly is his last outing as the character, he will be sorely missed, but here’s to a continued successful career! Sharing the spotlight for excitement is Dafne Keen (TV show THE REFUGEES) as Laura Kinney, a.k.a., X-23. For those of you that don’t know, in the comics, X-23 is basically a teen female clone of Wolverine, originally designed to fight against Wolverine himself. But she is eventually adopted as a daughter figure and the two share a unique relationship, and she eventually replaces Logan as the new Wolverine. Her popularity seems to be pretty checkered, from my experiences. Some, possibly the comic fans, don’t always like her. But I rather enjoyed her introduction in the TV cartoon X-MEN: EVOLUTION, and was one of my favorite characters in the video game MARVEL VS. CAPCOM 3. I enjoy what she represents and the idea of who she graduates to become. As for Keen, admittedly, I imagined the character a little older. But she does seem to have a rage and aggression that mirrors Jackman’s, so I’m open to her performance, as there’s a strong possibility that she will be in future X-Men films, specifically the planned “X-Force.” Finally, we have Patrick Stewart (GREEN ROOM , and TV shows STAR TREK: THE NEXT GENERATION and AMERICAN DAD!, and will be featured in the upcoming animated film, THE EMOJI MOVIE ), reprising his role as elder Charles Xavier. What a surprise, if you ask me. He’s largely stayed out of the solo flicks, outside his uncredited appearance in THE WOLVERINE. And… foul-mouthed? Professor, language! What would Captain America say, you hooligan?! All kidding aside, I’m looking forward to seeing what he’s going on in this.
Now for behind the scenes. Returning as director and co-writing is James Mangold, known for THE WOLVERINE, 3:10 TO YUMA (2007), and WALK THE LINE (2005). I actually don’t have a problem with Mangold on the whole. As long as he has a hand in writing the movies he’s directing, like WALK THE LINE and GIRL, INTERRUPTED (1999), the better his films seem to be. YUMA was certainly a great film despite not having a hand in the writing, but THE WOLVERINE wasn’t written by him. So I imagine that he wasn’t too happy with the final product, or there were many things he’d like to have changed. He clearly knows how to direct, and since he’s co-writing this movie, I think it’s going to hold up much better than the previous films. Co-writing alongside Mangold are Michael Green and Scott Frank. Green is known for GREEN LANTERN (2011), writing in the 87th Academy Awards, and a few episodes of HEROES, and is slated to write the upcoming BLADE RUNNER 2049 (2017). Frank is known for A WALK AMONG THE TOMBSTONES (2014), THE WOLVERINE, and MINORITY REPORT (2002). Composing the music is Marco Beltrami, known for THE SHALLOWS (2016), THE WOLVERINE, and UNDERWORLD: EVOLUTION (2006). Finally, the cinematographer is John Mathieson, known for THE MAN FROM U.N.C.L.E. (2015), X-MEN: FIRST CLASS (2011), and K-PAX (2001).
Overall, this is pretty big and I hope to everything that’s holy and sacred that it’s a good movie. I’ll even kind of accept it if it’s just the best solo Wolverine flick… but I want that to say something! We’ve got some great talent behind this. Looking forward to it, can’t wait.
This is my honest opinion of: LOGAN
The year is 2029. Logan (Hugh Jackman), once known as “Wolverine” in his X-Men years, is no longer with the X-Men, whom have been disbanded for a long time. In fact, mutants in general are on verge of extinction. Logan spends his time as a limo driver, he’s aged, so his healing isn’t what it used to be, drinks heavily, and he’s trying to save money for a boat. What for? He’s still looking after Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart), whose mental health has declined atrociously, occasionally slipping into madness. When his condition worsens, he sends out a psychic shockwave that hurts and can potentially kill anyone in their vicinity. Hence the boat, attempting to live out their remaining years far away from everyone and everything. But this plan comes crashing down when he meets Gabriela Lopez (Elizabeth Rodriguez), a scientist desperate for help from Logan to take her and her mute daughter Laura (Dafne Keen) away somewhere, but turns her away. Then he’s approached by an agent, named Pierce (Boyd Holbrook), for a shady organization called the Transigen Project, who is looking for the two ladies. Refusing to help again, he finds himself face to face with Gabriela and Laura and agrees to take them away for a lot of money. Unfortunately, Pierce and his team of Reavers, mechanically enhanced human mercenaries, find Gabriela and kill her, but Logan manages to protect Laura, revealed to be a mutant to have an adamantium skeleton with claws and a healing factor. Who joins them, journeying to their prescribed destination. Secrets are learned, danger is met, and Logan wrestles with where his life has taken him, what it’s doing to him, and who exactly Laura is to him.
DISCLAIMER: This superhero movie is very rated-R. There is nudity, there is violence up the wazoo, and there is swearing. So, parents, do not take your kids to see this movie if you do not want them to be exposed to this stuff.
OH!!! OH SHIT!!! OH FUCK!!! I couldn’t tell you if I was reacting to all the awesome brutal violence or nerdgasming. I am also not ruling out that it is entirely possible I was doing both. Either way, YEEEEEAAAAAH!!! If you were waiting for a hardcore R-rated Wolverine movie, then bitches, you got your wish and it is glorious.
Let’s talk about the very selling point of this movie: the reasons for this adults-only rating. We’re not talking about a little extra blood here. In the opening sequence alone, an arms gets sliced off. I’m pretty sure there’s more than a few stabs that expose guts and rib-cages. I think a leg was sliced off too, but I might have missed that. Either way, this movie lets you know what to expect in the first five minutes and when the action kicks in, it’s pretty consistent. I mentioned that there’s nudity. Eh, it’s about one or two seconds worth of a tittie flash from a drunken prom girl or whatever, and that’s it. Just… squeezing a ceremonial boob into a movie that for all intents and purposes could have been left out. But who gives a shit? That’s not what made or broke the movie. It’s just there. But there is a lot of swearing. Nothing worse than “fuck” and its variances, but yeah, it’s there in full view pretty shamelessly.
Let’s talk about Jackman. Man, oh man, he brings his A+ game because a solid A is for pussies. He does everything right. Logan’s constant drinking from his traumatic experiences between DAYS OF FUTURE PAST and in the present day. His hostility toward everyone and everything. His paternal instincts slowly kicking in. His deep and undying loyalty to Xavier. It’s all perfectly executed in Jackman’s performance. You will cheer, you will cry, you will smile, everything you’d expect. And I love this depiction of Wolverine. Some grey in his beard, a single claw that won’t quite come out all the way that he tries to pull out, coughing up blood, and limping for much of the film. It’s so heartbreaking to watch. For seventeen damn years, Wolverine has been the reason for any fan of the films to see. His savagery, his brutality, but his capacity for caring, and to keep on walking like a mother fucking boss when some foolish dick-slice shoots him with gun. He’s the definition of bad-ass. So there’s this overwhelming sensation of sadness to see him whittled down so horribly. Even when he’s full on Wolvie and going ape-shit on some poor victim, he doesn’t lose his fighting spirit, but you can tell that each slash is taking its tole on him. This may be one of the best Wolverine performances we will ever see out of the character.
How about Stewart’s reprisal of Xavier? Almost the exact same thing can be said. A character that many fans of the films come to associate with wisdom, parental guidance, unabashed sense of helping one another only to end up with a mental degradation that is extremely dangerous. This is some pretty interesting stuff here, especially in relation to Wolverine. Xavier’s become senile and he’s not as in control of his powers as he used to be. While we’re never given details, we can assume that he’s accidentally hurt and possibly killed some X-Men when his condition started. The fact that he doesn’t seem to remember any of it is also pretty heartbreaking. He’s locked away in the middle of nowhere and has to take pills to keep himself from slipping too far and causing more harm. However, there is a question mark that’s looming over my head. When we’re first introduced to Xavier in this movie, he’s completely mad. He’s in a wheelchair, raving about stuff that’s not there, barely acknowledging Logan as he enters. But as soon as this… freak out is over, we never see that psychotic breakdown – pun… kind of intended – ever again. I mean, we get the psychic death-shockwave a couple times, but nothing like him just losing all sense of reality. But I hesitate to call this a legit problem, as it doesn’t take up too much time and the rest of this two hour flick forgives this small hiccup pretty quickly.
But now for arguably my favorite part of the movie, even moreso than Jackman, Keen as Laura, aka, “X-23.” Laura is as every bit as savage as Wolverine. She slashes faces off like a pro, foot-stabs bitches in the face, a war-cry that sent shivers down my spine, a worthy successor to Wolverine in every way. But more than that, she barely says a word in the movie. Most of her acting is strictly through her expressions and it works great. Whether this is the work of great direction from Mangold or natural talent from Keen, or both, makes Laura debatably one of the best written characters in all of the X-Men movies, period. How faithful she is to her comic counterpart, I’m sure I don’t know, but I’ve not always cared about how faithful a character is, so long as the character is well-written enough for me to get behind. While we’re clearly shown a little girl who was forced to grow up at the speed that her adult scientists forced her to, we’re never detached from what Laura is: a little girl. She wears pink sunglasses, she eats Pringles, she laughs and knows to have fun. It’s a constant game of tug-of-war between realizing that she is so young, but she’s still this force to be reckoned with. She’s very endearing and awesome all rolled into one. Mangold wants to make an X-23 solo movie in the not-so-distant future, and I am so down for that.
How about the story? Eh, when you get right down to it, it’s not very… out-of-the-box. Logan has to get Laura from point A to point B before the bad guys get her. So there’s sadly not too many surprises in that regard. But this is a very character-driven movie, so I don’t mind this too much.
I think my one real issue is their use of villains. They’re either shoe-horned in, comically over-the-top, or… pointless. So villain number one is Pierce, the leader of the Reavers. This guy loves mugging to the camera and for a movie so concerned about keeping itself grounded, this is the one distractingly lame character who chews the scenery. Always smiling and making passive-aggressive threats that are so heavy-handed. He reminds me more of a James Bond high school bully than a legit threat. I was never intimidated by Pierce and that’s a problem if his role is going to be so inclusive.
Villain two is Dr. Rice (Richard E. Grant). He’s the one that’s shoe-horned in. Literally in the final ten minutes of the movie and his forced backstory is nothing to write home about. I could almost imagine his character completely cut from the movie and it’d work just fine.
I could almost forgive all of that were it not for the “twist” villain: X-24, a genetic copy of Wolverine. This… just seems so silly. I won’t truly understand why this organization cares so much about making a duplicate of Logan. Granted, he’s a savage fighter with the ability to heal rapidly, but… yeah, the first X-Men movie’s Xavier said it best, “There are more powerful mutants out. Why is this one so special?” Nightcrawler can teleport. Shadow Cat can walk through walls. Magneto can bend metal and summon force fields. Hell, the Juggernaut is virtually unstoppable. I guess in earlier drafts of the script, Sabretooth was slated for an appearance. Fitting, considering it’d be the last outing for Wolverine. But instead, they opt for a Wolverine clone. I don’t know, I think I know what they were trying to get across here; more heartbreaking to see aged-Wolverine fighting a younger, primed version of himself than an equally aged Sabretooth. But I don’t know, that would have still been awesome and may have flowed more organically to the story than a clone. Again, for a movie so concerned about grounding itself in a more realistic setting, this seemed pretty silly.
One would think that the very themes the movie is trying to tackle would provide the necessary conflict alone. Then again, an X-Men movie, a solo Wolverine movie no less, would be pretty pointless if he isn’t racking up a body count, so perhaps it’s simply that the villains aren’t as intimidating as the internal struggles Logan is faced with. But really, the more I think about it, the more minor my gripes are considering that there needs to be a villain for these characters to slice up.
In retrospect, this is truly the end of an era. Kind of like the ending to LORD OF THE RINGS: THE RETURN OF THE KING (2003). Whatever problems you might have with the ending, they can easily be forgiven. I choose to be very forgiving toward the flaws because Jackman’s final movie goes out with a huge bang and it really is a remarkable film. An end to a superhero character that defined “bad-ass” in the 2000’s, a farewell to the actor playing the role who brought such intensity and passion to it, and introducing an exciting new world and characters of the X-Men to explore. And I don’t know about the rest of you, but I am looking forward to seeing more of both X-23 and Keen in general.
Folks, I can’t recommend this movie enough. It’s a great send-off and it’s a great movie in general, definitely making up for the other failed solo films. We all wish Jackman well in his future projects, which I’m sure we’re all going to support. So stop what you’re doing and make time to see this. If you’ve been a fan of Jackman as Wolverine, of the X-Men, of superhero films in general, then this isn’t one to be missed. I saw it only once in theatres, but you bet your sweet bippy I plan to see it again and buy it on Blu-ray when it comes out. It’s worth it.
My honest rating for LOGAN: 5/5