Thursday, March 23, 2017

Movie Review: Logan

Logan is definitely a good movie and also a fine example of how enough time spent franchise building can eventually pay off in unique films that might otherwise have been impossible sells just a decade or two ago. Logan is a film for Wolverine fans, X-Men fans, and pretty much anyone who has seen at least two or three X-Men movies and figured out enough to get the basic layout of how 20th C. Fox's take on the franchise functions (which is to say: dysfunctionally).

But yeah, good movie, and worth seeing. And...spoilers ahead.

The film is tangentially related to the graphic novel "Old Man Logan" and also the many Logan spin-offs in the current messed up Marvel universe in the sense that it has an old dude named Logan, who may or may not be the actual guy from somewhere around seven prior movies. You get enough hints in the movie that, for example, the events of the first X-Men movie trilogy happened in the past, and maybe even "Days of Future Past" which must have ended up being a really bad idea if that was the case because at least the mutants were still cool and competent X-Men fighting the existential threat of the sentinels in the DoFP timeline; in Logan it appears that the timeline reboot ended with a much grizzlier, more disturbing future that is not entirely defined here, but does hint at what must have been a really grotesque end to virtually all mutants in the world. We get hints of a mad doctor behind it all, but also the suggestion that an ailing, elderly Professor Xavier might also have played a not insignificant part. In the graphic novel "Old Man Logan" the culprit is Logan himself, driven to hallucinate by Mysterio into killing all of the X-Men. In the movie, Logan is more of Professor X's keeper, and keeps him drugged up to avoid another hinted-at incident like the one which must surely have ended the X-Men and maybe much more.

As interesting as the plot and theme of the movie was, with its meticulous deconstruction of Logan's entire hero story (and the rest of the X-Men) it was just as fascinating for being a futuristic sci-fi, almost cyberpunk tale of a near-future setting in 2029 in which driverless trucks are the norm, corporatization is everywhere in subtle but believable ways, augmentation through prosthetics is standard, and genetic engineering is now where the remaining DNA Of many, many dead mutants lie. In comes X-23, Lara, to serve as the lynch-pin which sets in motion Logan's (and Xavier's) final act of heroism.

The movie captures some other important elements of the graphic novel it is loosely inspired by: we have a buddy road trip (but in the grimmest manner possible with dark humor the best levity you can hope for), a father/daughter relationship, vicious rednecks of different types and breeds (no Hulk clan in site but that's okay), a tour of an America (and Mexico) which is quietly ruled by corporate influences, and a moment of carnage against good people which leads to utter tragedy and unhinges Logan.

There are surprise turns in this movie, too. Twists of small but well-played nature that lead you invariably down a path toward what increasingly becomes a clearly doomed ending for virtually all of the protagonists (and antagonists) on the screen. It culminates in a bloody conflict that might almost have been worthy of Tarantino.

When critics and others say Logan is a good movie, they really aren't kidding. I don't know if I'll ever watch it more than's a great movie weighed down by its own fatalistic path to doom, full of genuinely sad moments for a character who honestly has never been treated with such a sense of the "real" before. Enough so that when it is over, it is both fitting but sad, to know that we finally got a genuinely good Wolverine movie, only to see it close out this way.

I have no idea what the X-Men franchise is trying to do with its timeline, by the way. It seems like it is almost a tradition now that each film in the X-Men and Wolverine fanchises are determined to deconstruct, rewrite or de-canonize what has come before. Logan does a spectaular job of casting all of the prior films in to doubt on one level or another, even as it provides what amounts to the most nihilistic, downtempo end one could imagine for the entire franchise. Sure, there will be more X-Men movies....probably even more Wolverine movies, I bet; but Logan itself will, until it too is deconstructed and expunged from the timeline, be the last X-Men film, the one which ended what Professor X started in First Class, in the most nihilistic, fatalistic manner possible.

Oh, and don't take your kids to see this one. It's too violent for little kids, and the moral crisis of the film is not the sort that kids are likely to be able to tangle with until they are at least 11 or 12. My wife and I saw it while kiddo was sitting with his Nanna, and boy are we glad we did. Thanks to my wife for sneakily arranging this (I missed game night, but this was probably our only chance to see it).

About the only thing I can wonder is: can someone who has never seen an X-Men film really get as much out of this movie? I have no idea. But then the second question I have is....are there any viewers who would see a movie like this in the first place that don't know "just enough" about Wolverine and the X-Men not to "get it?" There are probably a few....and some might like Logan enough to dig into the prior films (but they will be disappointed, a little bit; Logan smokes them all).

So...yeah, A +

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