From the moment I watched the Johnny Cash trailer I was hyped up for this film, despite not watching any of the previous solo Wolverine movies (judging from the reviews, it looks like I haven’t missed much).
The main reason the trailer looked exciting was because it implied that the X-Men world had finally changed, and I don’t mean in potential apocalyptic scenario like in Days of Future Past, but with actual time passing, resulting in mutants becoming near extinct and Xavier’s school being shut down. On top of that, we get major character progression (or digression): Wolverine is getting older, and something’s up with his healing power; and also Charles Xavier is now an invalid, who has little control over his awesome mental powers.
So I wanted to see what was going to happen. Any plot that deviates from the whole “save-the-world” dead horse is enough to get me excited, especially after seeing Civil War pull it off so well. Logan and Xavier are now just trying to survive, and the enemy seems to be time more than anything.
In this review we will look at the good and the bad, followed by a brief discussion on the future of superhero movies. There will be spoilers.
Straight up, the best part about this movie, and also the thing that makes it worth seeing in theatres for, is the fact that they finally let Wolverine go all out. I remember seeing the very first X-Men in 2000, and thinking how lame it was that Wolverine never actually killed anyone with his claws. Obviously the “dark hero” theme hadn’t become popular yet, and they were keeping the film kid-friendly since it was an early superhero movie. But with Logan it’s like they knew it was Hugh Jackman’s last Wolverine film and they were all like “Fuck it” and let the character do whatever the hell he wanted. Imagine a guy with anger management issues equipped with metal claws and an semi-invulnerable body going on a rampage. This movie opens up with a brutal action scene, and it doesn’t stop for the entire movie, which is impressive because unlike the Transformers series, the action never gets tiring; we always wanna see Wolvie and Laura chop up more baddies.
This is because the plot does a good job getting us invested in the characters. We already know Logan and Xavier, but now there’s also Laura, the byproduct of a human-weapons program designed to artificially replicate the original mutants using their DNA. Laura is, technically, Wolverine’s daughter, and her story is just one of many, as we also meet the other children who were born in labs and experimented on. Along the way there is also an innocent family that we meet, providing a brief, but much needed, reprise from the blood and limb-lopping. That is how you create a good action movie: by creating a good plot that makes us care about all the characters, not just the hero.
Finally, all actors deserve praise for their performances, from Patrick Stewart’s depiction of a mentally ailing senior to Dafne Keen’s portrayal of a socially stunted childhood and consciousness. Despite the familiar father-daughter sappy story, the delivery of the performances and the novelty of the plot (how many dads are mutants who get cloned?) made it an above-average immersive experience.
Far from being perfect, the film does have a few hiccups in its plot.
As I stated above, I was excited to see from the trailer that Wolverine was no longer healing like he used to. I thought that he too, like Xavier, was experiencing old age, which would’ve providing an interesting angle to the character. Although Wolverine’s healing factor prolongs his age, he is not immortal, and it would’ve been neat to see how Wolverine would deal with his impending mortality, like any regular human. Instead, the stunting of his healing factor is attributed to an unknown disease, diagnosed by a common walk-in clinic physician, no less, and we never find out exactly what was going on or why Wolverine refuses to get it fixed. Instead he just comes across as the stubborn old guy who refuses to get a check-up.
One of the main plot points of the film is that Wolverine is tasked with delivering Laura to a safe haven, whose location is given to him by a nurse from the facility where the children were created. Logan finds out that the location was from an X-Men comic book, suggesting that it is a fictional location. This is what prevents Logan from committing to the plan, but later on we find out it was an actual place with a cabin and an observatory, which broke the immersion. Who built this place? Why was it here? So the coordinates were coincidentally identical to a fictional location in a comic book?
While there are other small plot-disappointments (adamantium bullet kills adamantium body…?), the biggest one happens at the end.
*MAJOR SPOILER WARNING SIREN ACTIVATED*
I did not like the fact that Logan died. He has significant healing powers. He should never die. And you know what would’ve been better? If he actually fulfilled Xavier’s last wish and became a mentor to the children, the next generation of X-Men. Instead, it felt like the production wanted to pay a tribute to Hugh Jackman, and finally put this character’s iteration to rest. That was a sacrifice of story and character to honour an actor, and that is creative sin: never compromise your art to be sentimental.
Although I have absolutely zero control over what movies Hollywood produces, I can still hope that they learn the right lessons from Logan, but I have a feeling they probably won’t for a while. The bad lesson to learn would be to think that audiences want brutal action sequences and moody antiheroes. The good lesson would be that audiences want a well-crafted story and believable characters we can cheer and feel sad for.
No matter what the genre or what demographics you’re trying to appeal to, everyone just wants to see a good story. Logan, The Dark Knight, and Civil War are examples of superhero films that did something different. They gave us good stories; the action sequences and special effects were secondary. Say what you want about remakes and reboots, but Wolverine, Batman, Captain America, and Ironman have been around for a while. They’ve endured because their characters are genuinely interesting. If you can put them in interesting scenarios that show a new side to who they are, only then is it worth it to make another movie about them.
Watch it! It’s a great action flick that benefits from a huge screen and uber sound systems. It’s the closing chapter of a saga, and although the X-Men series always had something cheesy about them (which everyone, including themselves, knew), the Hugh Jackman and Patrick Stewart era ends on a high note with dignity and a serious gift to fans of the comics and superhero movies in general. Perhaps the superhero movies will never stop coming, but if every once in a while we get something of Logan‘s calibre, then there’s much to look forward to.
Here’s to you, Spiderman: Homecoming.
This has been a gamobo review. Thanks for reading.