3 v. 3: LOGAN
**SPOILERS** Beware, we can't erase your mind like Professor X if you read something you don't want to.
It is a beautiful film. Hugh Jackman's grand finale as Logan and Sir Patrick Stewart as Charles Xavier did not disappoint. The final chapter of the original X-men timeline (we suppose) was an elegant film agile beyond its genre. Logan gracefully mixes a wonderfully grounded story with some well placed genre action. Set further down the timeline of the original X-men trilogy, this bookend world is not post-apocalyptic but rather spiced with post-cataclysmic plot and hints of tragic demise.
At SUPERflix Movies, we don't do reviews. We argue with balance like civilized film aficionados. This is a 3 vs. 3 where our 3 favorites face off with the 3 worst from the film. You decide which wins out. As always, your opinion is the only one that matters! Comment below and tell us what you liked or didn't.
Logan is a beautiful film in any genre. The film is a tragic, dramatic story about loss, pain, and a man coming to terms with his life. The film shines with a willingness to step outside the superhero genre and develop story and character over all else. <clapping> The film succeeds on so many levels that precious few comic book or even superhero genre films have dared explore. It is willing to put drama over action in a way that doesn't ignore nor belittle the comic book genre movie. The characters and their conflict drive this story forward and frame the plot with their struggle. In the previews, we were told "there are no more mutants" and the story symbolizes that sentiment. This is a human story about pain and struggle along a dark road to redemption. It's a look at the last leg of a heroic journey not set on the pages of a comic book but rather in the dark terms of a gritty and real struggle. Logan is what The Last of Us was for games and The Dark Knight was for superhero films. It is beautiful beyond the confines of its genre and its medium. It is what art should be. As Pablo Picasso said, “Art is the lie that enables us to realize the truth.” And so it goes with good film.
Simple, Powerful Character Story
Logan tells a simple character driven story using drama over action to drive the narrative forward. Logan is brilliant. The rage, his long life with an adamantium skeleton, and the deep dark fathoms of his pain have poisoned him to the point he can barely function. Jackman is brilliant in the role as Logan in his final act. It is a beautiful picture of a man poisoned by the pain of his long life as a soldier struggling to make it to the ultimate end, an honorable death. At his end, he is given purpose as he unwillingly limps along a journey that redeems his extraordinarily long life of rage with a few last moments of peace.
Patrick Stewart as Charles Xavier is also at his best in his time as Professor X under the mechanism of a brutal premise. Charles Xavier is ironically stricken with the deterioration of his immeasurably powerful mind. While Logan's body is poisoned, Charles mind is stricken with disease. This Professor is no longer the wide-eyed optimist giving hope to a disenfranchised but powerful minority. This is a broken man who can no longer control the monumental power he embraced in his youth. It has instead become a weapon of mass destruction out of his control. For the character, it is a truly tragic and painful twist of fate. Stewart wears it well.
Too often films in the superhero genre become complicated by massive ensemble casts and multiple plots intersecting in huge action piece after complicated visual effect and so on. Logan dares to be simple and this gives the film a clarity of focus by which we can see the human drama more clearly. No doubt, the blockbuster Avenger films and massive DC epics are a lot of fun and can succeed within a range of complexity. But, it is also nice to take a deep breathe once in awhile and go on a less crowded and more focused walk. You can hear yourself think in this film. The characters shine clearer. The drama tastes more palpable. The R-rating may be for violence and gore. Yet, what makes this film truly adult is its refined focus on the human drama, in all its grit and grime.
While Logan was an excellent film in its own right, it had to escape the x-men universe to a certain extent to do so. Unfortunately, it leaves some minor traces which tread on too familiar and shaky ground, like many of the X-men films.
Personally, I am glad to be done with the original trilogy. This (hopefully) will bookend a great ride from the 2000 film X-men to LOGAN. The franchise desperately needs new creative direction, a renewed focus, and a willingness to pave its own path in a genre that has evolved substantially.
It has become more than stale to create plot devices to weaken Logan to fit a more grounded plot. It's time to embrace the Wolverine character, not just Logan. Let him be powerful yet checked by other characters and powerful plot devices. Didn't we just come off a film where Wolverine couldn't heal because of a parasitic heart robot stealing his mutant ability? Now he can't heal because he has "adamantium" poisoning. It's clear they don't know what to do with Wolverine as he is in the comics. Is this the only way we can ground and root the character in reality. It's time to find a creative direction that can balance Wolverine closer to the comics versus simply dumbing him down into a vulnerable "mortal" every time we need character suspense. The genre is matured to the point where we can handle comic real characters and root them in drama instead of just de-powering them time and time again.
And how many times are humans going to re-engineer mutant DNA to wipe out mutants? Instead of using Mystique's DNA to engineer super-sentinals, they slipped an x-gene sterilizing agent into coca-cola. The plot included messing with the x-gene in X-men, Days of Future Past, Wolverine: Origins, and now Logan. It works best in Logan as it provides the backdrop to an interesting alternate world setting. Still, it is another re-tread which makes it feel a little creatively stale.
There was even a re-tread within a re-tread here. Logan faces off against a cloned, mindless, and fully powered version of himself. It's incredible that they couldn't even have this Wolverine in anything but a tank top t-shirt. At least this evil Wolverine was wearing a black one since he was the evil version of Logan.
Stuck Between the Comics and a Grounded World
Logan doesn't escape the X-men movie franchise's biggest problem. They are stuck in between the comic realism we see in the MCU and the grounded drama we saw in The Dark Knight trilogy. It's an ironic scene when Logan walks into the room with an X-men comic and calls it complete BS. It's fitting. It's a cool little easter egg and a wonderful motif that the comics were created as a fiction of the "real" world x-men heroism we see in the X-universe on film. Yet, it's too ironic that Logan calls it out as fake when the X-men movie's creative team can't find a good balance between the comics and adapting them to film.
It's the biggest flaw in the franchise and something the new trilogy tried to accomplish but failed in Apocalypse. Logan works outside of the comic genre as a beautiful film, but these spots where they skirt the line and fail to commit are disappointing reminders of the larger franchise. We hope to see a larger commitment to the comics now that we can (and should) close the door on the original trilogy. Balance your world by creating dramatic human and cultural stories like mutants vs humans, human rights for mutants, government controls like Genoshan camps, and the war between the two with the X-men caught in the middle. Make powerful statements that reflect our world's modern issues. The X-men are as relevant as they have ever been. Don't dull the X-universe on film by having Logan wear a white tank top and jeans while the X-men wear paramilitary black suits. Let your heroes shine in this world in all their glory. Ok, that's enough. I'm off my X-men soap box.
The Big Action Showdown...Logan v. Logan?
The ultimate bad guy here was a bit of a let down. The son of William Stryker was the better villain in the story yet we're focused in on the weapon he uses to slow down the mutants. It was a good narrative device to have the lineage of the man who experimented on Logan and other mutants effectively exterminate organically biological mutants. However, the main villain from an action standpoint was the counter point to Logan... another Logan. As we said above, this evil Logan even wore a black tank top to show he was the bad guy. That's pretty close to the definition of lame.
It was fun to a degree to see a younger and fully powered Logan wreaking havoc without conscience juxtaposed with an old, dying Logan. But, we've had 17 years of Wolverine in movies. It was a bit of a cop out for a film that committed to its identity in other larger areas so well. It was as if they just couldn't go a whole film with a weak Logan, which fit this plot even if they've done it before. They figured out a rather lame way to have Jackman showcased in more action set pieces. They missed a real opportunity to explore a final Logan villain or come back to an old archenemy. A version of Omega Red would have been fun to pit against Logan. Sabretooth would have fit the role perfectly and even been able to handle the dramatic weight this villain would bear in the plot. At least, the reveal of evil Wolverine as the bad guy solved the riddle of Jackman's fake hair throughout the movie.
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Logan was a wonderfully cinematic and beautiful film. We believe it falls just short of greatness with a lame villain and some minor attachments to an ailing X-universe. As a stand alone bookend to the original x-universe, it is superb. As a film outside of genre, it will likely be included in the top tier of films this year. Jackman and Stewart could each be up for acting nominations. It's that good. Tell us what you thought below!