Quick Hit: A beautiful, haunting, thrilling swan song to one of the best to ever take the mantle of “Superhero”
I’ve spent a long time thinking about Logan. For years really, long before I ever saw the movie or thought about the movie. That’s because Wolverine is my favorite Marvel superhero. I see him as the dark side of my personality: the wild, give-a-damn type who is fond of guttural screams and sarcasm. I’ve loved Jackman on screen from his first “Bub” as the clawed crusader, and it physically hurts me to think I’ll never see new content with him as Wolvy. But, this isn’t a post to lament a fallen colleague – instead, it’s to celebrate a terrific movie.
Many people (including me) have been criticizing the superhero genre as becoming too serious. And while I hold to my ground that someone like Superman should have his films a bit more “light”, here I can’t help but deny that the seriousness in Logan, that overwhelming intoxicating sadness and weariness, is incredibly well-done. More, it’s fitting. If Logan would have cracked more jokes, this movie would have fallen back into Last Stand territory. As it sits, it’s a perfect blend of the story of a gunslinger’s tragic life.
The film is incredibly violent, as the movies really should have always been. But while some people have critizied the language and the violence as being shoe-horned into the film, I think it finally feels as if Wolverine is allowed to stretch into the skin that he was written for. It’s beautiful and terrifying to see the invulnerable man so pained and so hurt physically (as well as emotionally). It’s because Logan has always been the one to fight throw the pain and save the day, and here it’s different in only one way: Logan is convinced that these are now wounds to match his emotional ones – they won’t go away.
There is also so much to be said for this film’s meta-qualities. For instance, X-24 is such a beautiful way to talk about the extremes that an actor must go to in order to achieve a look for a role. Wolverine has required Jackman’s blood, sweat, and probably tears in order to look the part. But every few years, he has commit to it in a way that few have – for decades. It's also a commentary on the comic book genre as whole: by mentioning the comics and talking about how the things that took place in the books never did in real life, it allows the director (and actors) to tell other stories than just what is written. There’s also the inevitable handing over of the reins to young Laura (who I’ll touch a bit more on in a minute), which is now metaphorical as well as literal. Jackman cannot go on – so he’ll leave it to new actors. I really liked the inclusions of the movie Shane. James Mangold (who formerly directed 3:10 to Yuma) knows the Western genre and allows the inevitable comparisons to be drawn.
And to go with those comparisons, there is also this – Logan is frequently beautiful and emotional, just like Westerns are. There are some beautiful landscaping shots that could be shown in a film studies class (who knows, they may be one day). I’ll also include some shout-outs to some of the close-ups to Jackman’s face – the man has a scary intensity, and the camera does not shy away from it. It’s evident to see how much Logan is hurting, if you only look in his eyes. Heavy metal poisoning hurts. As does living through countless wars and deaths of those that you love.
I’ve gone on ad nosium about Jackman, but what of the other players? What about Patrick Stewart, Professor X himself? He’s excellent, by all standards. Frequently portraying the heart and the hate that is the relationship between himself and Logan, Stewart allows us into his most vulnerable of positions: one where we know more than he does. It’s another painful realization, and when you see the lack of control this former super now has, it’s upsetting. Mangold helps us get past the worst of it, frequently giving us jokes to lighten up moments that could be devastating in a different light (the bathroom scene with Logan for instance). Dafne Keen, who plays Laura, is absolutely as insane as Logan in his most fearsome moments. But, without a convincing belief that she has the same heart as Logan, the audience wouldn’t care about her. Keen does the impossible – take a brand new character to the X-series and make you want to see more of her. This feral, completely out-of-control take is something that people asked to see from Wolverine for years – now we have two in the same film. Here is a collection of gifs to start of my next statements.
The last thing I have to say is simple. I want to personally thank Hugh Jackman. I know he doesn’t know me, and that there a million fanboys out there that have sung his praises throughout the nine films he’s been in (X films, there are many others including the excellent The Prestige and others that I would love to review). But, I just can’t help but want to state my thanks. He has provided me with hours of entertainment; a hero that others and myself can aspire to be; and throughout it all has continued to be humble and gracious for his good fortune to be given a character such as this. He will never read these words (barring any miracles occurring through Twitter or the like), but I felt the need to say them nonetheless. When I do cosplay as Wolverine, there is a reason I aim to look like you - you'll forever be the standard look, regardless of who else plays you. You are the Christopher Reeves of Wolverines. Thank you.
I’m giving the excellent film Logan an “A+” and jumping on the Oscar bandwagon for the film. Who's with me?
For more on this film, check out IMDB.
"All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy"