Coming off last year’s rather disappointing X-Men: Apocalypse, I really didn’t know what to expect from Logan. I was not too impressed by The Wolverine, so I was wary of being overly excited. After the initial buzz from the first press screenings however, my expectations skyrocketed. Fortunately, they were met and surpassed. Logan is a brutal and emotional film that encapsulates everything good about its genre.
From the very opening, the the tone is set and you immediately notice just how bloody and brutal it is. Thanks to the film’s age restriction, director James Mangold has the full freedom to go as far as the story calls for. There is excessive swearing, but it never comes off as forced; it’s natural because the situations that these characters are put in are dire. Another thing that fascinated me was that the gore was not gratuitous and was used effectively.
As far as the story goes, it takes place in 2029, some time after all X-men are dead but for Logan, Charles and Caliban. We don’t know why and how, but we are given pieces of the puzzle – throughout the film – that we need to put together in order to understand what has gone wrong. Logan is now old and tired of life, offering a service similar to Uber, until one day his car is wrecked. I’ll leave it at that, as the less you know when you go in to see it the better.
Logan never treats the audience as if we are dumb, and doesn’t spoon-feed us every single thing that is going on. Moreover, the story is told in such a masterful manner that upon leaving the auditorium, you will have seen a film with a beginning, a middle and an end—something rare these days, especially in the superhero genre. The end of the second act is by far one of the most suspenseful and shocking ones I have seen in a long while. The entire movie is intense and doesn’t let you get distracted even for a second, you’re glued to the screen.
A big contributor to that, apart from the fantastic direction and cinematography, is the acting. Almost everyone gives an exceptional performance (save for Stephen Merchant, who is a hit or miss) but the standouts are, as you might have expected, Hugh Jackman and Patrick Stewart. The former is harrowing as the guilt and tiredness from Logan’s long life is taking its toll on him, while Stewart gives an incredibly nuanced performance with exquisite subtlety. Dafne Keen is quite stellar as well, even if she doesn’t play the most likable of characters. What she does in her action scenes is commendable.
While the film’s explored themes have definitely been dealt with before, it has its own spin on them to make them thought-provoking: are corporations too unregulated? Where should a line be drawn? Does good always win or does evil overpower it sometimes? Is immigration a solution to some problems? Do you choose yourself or should you go out of your way to help the others? These and many other questions are asked but you don’t always get a straight answer. Rather, you need to make up your own mind about it.
It is deeply emotional as well. Even though it is based on a comic-book, it isn’t of the type ‘let’s save the world.’ Instead, it’s much smaller and, therefore, a more personal film about dealing with loss and illnesses, moral dilemmas, and explores the line as to when your actions are justifiable and when you’ve turned into a monster.
Not burdened by the task to set up a plethora of sequels and prequels, the director has crafted an impeccable film about what it means to be human and how far we are willing to go for those we care about. Logan doesn’t cut away from the horror that one may inflict upon others, and effortlessly scrutinises the motivations behind its characters’ decisions. Combine that with the brutal, but exceptionally executed, action scenes and you end up with a film that elevates the superhero genre.