Movie Review: Logan

Logan (2017)

Rated R: For Blood and Gore, Drug and Alcohol Use, Intense Violence and Strong Language

Running Time: 137 minutes (2 hours and 17 minutes)

Genre/s: Action, Adventure, Drama, Science Fiction, Superhero

Released on March 3, 2017 (US Release Date; Available For Worldwide Viewing)

Presented by Marvel Entertainment, TSG Entertainment, Kinberg Genre, Hutch Parker Productions, The Donners' Company and 20th Century Fox

Inspired by "Old Man Logan" Written by Mark Millar and Illustrated by Steve McNiven

"Wolverine" Created by Len Wein, John Romita Sr. and Herb Trimpe

Writers: Scott Frank, Michael Green and James Mangold

Directors: James Mangold

  • Hugh Jackman as James "Logan" Howlett / Wolverine
  • Patrick Stewart as Professor Charles Xavier
  • Boyd Holdbrook as Donald Pierce
  • Stephen Merchant as Caliban
  • Richard E. Grant as Doctor Alexander "Zander" Rice
  • Dafne Keen as Laura Kinney / X-23

Nothing lasts forever, especially the great things in life such as the committed and unforgettable performances of Hugh Jackman and Patrick Stewart respectively as the man who is still the best there is at what the does, the Wolverine, and everyone's favorite fictional teacher, Professor Charles Xavier. While it is usually easy to poke fun of 20th Century Fox's many failures at making decent superhero movies, including non-X-Men-related properties such as Daredevil, Elektra, and most especially the four Fantastic Four strikes, which until today I cannot forgive them for, one must at least learn to appreciate their better outing such as the first two installments of the original series, the first two entries in the prequel series, and obviously, Deadpool. The movie that we are about to review for this post is undoubtedly, unquestionably the best X-Men movie that 20th Century Fox has done. It is a movie so spectacular, so brutal, so brooding, so bold, you would be praying that other studios would make their own R-Rated adventures. Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to Dateline Movies, and this is our movie review of Logan. Also, spoilers ahead!

What is the movie about?

A few years from now, Mutant-kind is faced with the serious threat of total extinction. The X-Men are no more, and from the ashes of the number of mutants that have bit the dust, rose a shady mega-corporation with "sinister" agendas known as Alkali-Transigen.

Two of the remaining members of the former superhero group, James Howlett, also known as Logan, or more famously as The Wolverine, played by Jackman (Prisoners), and its founder, Professor Charles Xavier, played by Stewart, are slowly and painfully losing their powers, and are hiding from the dark forces known as the Reavers, Alkali-Transigen's enhanced muscle, lead by the equally malevolent Donald Pierce, played by Holbrook (Run All Night), and Pierce's intellectual superior, Doctor Zander Rice, played by Grant (Both Stewart and Grant appeared in L.A. Story), in the property of fellow mutant Caliban, played by Merchant (Tooth Fairy).

One day while working, Logan stumbles upon the mysterious Laura, classified by Alkali-Trasigen as "X-23", played by Keen in her debut movie role, who is said to be "so much like him", according to Professor Xavier, in more ways than one. With the Reavers hot on their tails, in pursuit of Laura, Logan and Professor Xavier must now go on a cross-country road trip of death, unlock the mysteries behind the origins of Laura, and save the world the X-Men way, one last time!

What we think of the movie?

Acting = (5/5)

Hugh Jackman is the living, breathing manifestation of Logan, as much as Patrick Stewart is basically the real-world embodiment of Professor Charles Xavier, and there is no argument in the world that can counter this claim otherwise. Seeing them here in this noticeably bleaker outing, knowing that we will never get to see either actors reprise their roles in upcoming installments, is somewhat heartbreaking for me. And in their last outing as members of the X-Men film series roster, they sure do know how to go out with a bang!

Finally free from the restraints of modern PG-13 blockbusters, Jackman lets his inner animal out, and embraces the brutal nature of the crazy world that Logan is stuck in, delivering one of his best performances of his career yet! His on-screen mentor-student chemistry with Xavier, as well as the father-daughter bond between Logan and Laura, will really warm our hearts, with scenes such as ... spoiler alert ... Professor Xavier's death and ... another spoiler alert ... his own death will make you shed a bucket full of tears.

Patrick Stewart's performance here is unlike any portrayal we have ever seen before. While we are all more or less familiar with the much more sophisticated and wise version of Charles, the clearly damaged and emotionally scarred version adds a whole new dimension to the character. You will really see an all new, all different Professor Charles Xavier. One that is continuously haunted by the shadows of the past, similar to how Logan is haunted by the many skeletons in his own closet. Depicted as having Alzheimer's Disease, Charles is at his most vulnerable, and one cannot help but feel sad for what has happened to the once great Professor Xavier, thanks to Stewart's performance, no less.

Audiences everywhere are blown-away by the debut of newcomer and rising star Dafne Keen, who portrays the enigmatic Laura alongside Hugh Jackman's Logan. We rarely get to hear Keen speak, that is until we get to the near-end of the movie, but despite being not having that much lines, Keen's performance as an extremely antiheroic yet innocent, silent yet unspeakably feral next generation X-Woman is just awesome! It is one of those performances that are so good, or just as good as the lead actor's, she deserves a spin-off of her own. That one moment when she addressed Logan as her "daddy", that, right there, is just well acted.

Stephen Merchant's involvement here might be puzzling for some, including me, initially, given that he is more of a comedian than a drama actor. However, like other great comedy actors with a knack for the more serious side of cinema such as Jim Carrey, Merchant channels his inner Wheatley from the Portal 2 video game (just without any of the humor). He manages to deliver a swell, dark performance as the Mutant tracker Caliban even for only a matter of minutes of screentime, with the character making his second appearance since X-Men: Apocalypse. Also he has a hinted backstory. Maybe we could get to know him more next time around?

In terms of character development for our villains, it is pretty short, but if we are talking about performances, well, I guess we can give it a pass. Boyd Holbrook's performance as the Alkali-Transigen head of security, Donald Pierce, is overshadowed by the character's limited screentime, but his snarky demeanor and menacing appeal, brought on by Holbrook's fine acting, is enough to make Pierce a force to be reckoned with. Richard E. Grant's Dr. Zander Rice, Pierce's on-screen superior, on the other hand, while also suffering a similar fate to that of Holbrook's character in character development, is also a pretty dangerous presence.

Direction and Quality = (5/5)

Remove all of the computer-generated special-effects that we are already used to at this point, and what do we get? A series of impressively choreographed blood baths, is what. In the vein of traditional, classic action movies of the earlier decades, we can actually see all of the fighting that is happening on-screen. No flashes. No explosions, almost. No superpowers, not really. Just hardcore realism. James Mangold's direction, plus some great cinematography and costume designs, truly make this movie one of the greats.

I am not gonna lie. All of the fight scenes are really awesome, but if I am to choose which among these sequences are the highlights, I would have to choose that moment featuring Professor Xavier's telepathic seizure in Oklahoma City, wherein Logan has to fight hordes of Reavers, while he, and other civilians, are slowly being paralyzed by the telepathic blast from Charles, the Munson home invasion of X-24 (more on him later), and the final battle. Also, during the "telepathic seizure" sequence, I recall, is my most favorite simply because there is not much movement. It is strangely thrilling, despite not going around in much places.

It really is a good thing that Marco Beltrami returned to score for the movie, after his involvement in the music for The Wolverine. I enjoyed his music, as it was epic in that movie, and it totally generated the dark atmosphere of that flick. His Western-inspired take on Logan's sound was interesting. 

Story, Dialogue and Flow = (5/5)

You already know what this section contains.

Who says that comicbook movies are strictly supposed to be family outings? Certainly this movie refuses to accept that claim, given its ultra violence,  and it takes it up a notch by actually satirizing the comicbook industry by featuring an in-universe version of the X-Men's tales, which are some of the film's main motifs, to the point that Logan himself says that comicbooks are not to be compared with the reality of their situation. 

Wow. What are the odds that a superhero flick would end up satirizing its own genre? The X-Men, long gone now, and are only remembered in-print, and it is a very creative and a very fresh spin on the mythology of the X-Men that was executed finely and smoothly. Nothing says "aging gracefully" like living with the fact that you are past your prime, losing your powers, and all your fellow heroes are all dead. Wait, that sounds wrong.

Once again, similar to much of the other superhero movies out right now, like Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, and most likely even the ones that are yet to come, Logan deals with the existential theme of fatherhood, specifically highlighted by the father-daughter-like connection shared between Logan and Laura. Okay, I am all on-board for movies that tackle deeper themes and concepts, but let us be honest here, is there anyone in the comicbook world who does not have any family problems at all? Here, we see a daughter (Laura), who idolizes his father (Logan) for the superhero that she knows him to be. But like, and unlike at the same time, most of these movies, it is discussed well through the characters' interactions, notably Charles' lecture on family during the trio's rest stop at the Munson household. "Unlike" because for once, the father in question is not a bad guy, and did not really abandon his daughter.

I do admire the movie's putting less focus on the villains, and more on the journey that is ahead of our heroes and heroine. In a rare instance, we see the conflict of "man versus self", wherein Logan struggles with his slowly deteriorating powers and completely broken and suicidal spirit to defend Laura against all odds. Self-contained and down-to-Earth, this is a fun and deeply emotionally resonant story. While I do love the overarching story arcs in most movie franchises, it is nice to take a breath of fresh air every once in a while, and explore standalone stories.

Sure, I will admit that Logan gives me everything that I have been hoping for for a definitive Wolverine adventure, the villains are still pretty bland, as in "bland" by usual summer blockbuster standards. I am willing to overlook this one flaw just this one time, because I can acknowledge that the movie is much more focused on, as I have mentioned before, the journey itself, namely a "man versus self" kind of challenge, rather than the "hero versus villain" type of conflict.

Other interesting story aspects include the truth behind the cause of the Mutants' extinction, and the creation of artificially-enhanced Mutants. The cause behind the sudden drop in number of Mutants is Dr. Zander Rice's unnamed and unexplored power dampening chemical that is hidden in everyday consumables such as food, all to avenge his father's death, who was killed during Logan's escape from Alkali Lake. I have a rusty memory, so when I did some research to recall some details, my mind was blown. It was unexpected, and compared to our then theories, this one was a solid and justified sinister plan. Could there be a cure soon? Or maybe, could there even be some dormant side-effects for non-Mutant humans? I wish we could explore this more soon.

Continuing on the premise of Deadpool, shady figures are altering people's DNA to create their own superpowered armies, Logan takes the liberty of exploring the concept again. This just shows that the normal humans in the X-Men universe are hypocritical. First, they do not want Mutants anywhere. Now, when they are gone, they want to make their own? Given that it was the government's and private scientific institutes who created them, could there be more of them out there, besides from Laura's group?

Also, the twist that Charles is the one who accidentally killed the entire X-Men when he had another, much more dangerous telepathic seizure, instead of Logan, who massacred the team after coming into contact with hallucinogens, is slightly disappointing, since I was expecting something close to the comics, but is just as tragic to match it.

Ending, Originality and Story Fulfillment = (5/5)

I was not able to mention it earlier. The entire story revolves around the heroes' journey to "Eden", a fabled location that is said in one of the X-Men comics that Gabriela Lopez, played by Elizabeth Rodriguez (Pound of Flesh), Laura's caring Alkali-Transigen nurse, read, to be located near the Canadian border, which Logan assumes is not real, but Charles convinced him otherwise since Laura believes that it does. Of course, it is real. Duh!

Finally, the Reavers caught-up to them, with X-24, a clone of Wolverine who killed Charles in his sleep and the Munson family, including the father, Will, played by Eriq La Salle (Under The Dome), and Logan is forced to rescue them, despite initially wanting to leave. With a cocktail recovered by one of Laura's friends that activates his powers, he battles X-24, Pierce and Doctor Rice, and all three end up dead, with the latter being killed by Laura with an adamantium bullet Logan kept that he planed to use to kill himself once he fulfilled Charles' wishes of living by the sea, but Logan is mauled as well.

In a heartbreaking scene, which also calls back to the scene wherein Logan vaguely learns of his future potential demise in The Wolverine, Logan and Laura embrace like father and daughter, then he dies, given that the serum only activates his powers temporarily. In a very memorable, and completely depressing closing shot, Laura and her friends bury Logan before they leave, and he changes the position of the makeshift cross into an "X", an homage to the X-Men.

No post-credits scene by the way. But overall, this was brilliant! Really, really brilliant!

Overall Evaluation = (5/5)

Flawless in every way imaginable, this brutally bloody and well-made superhero movie disguised as an on-the-road adventure finally manages to do the titular character justice with a great tale, powered by emotional lead performances.

TOTAL = 25/25 (Masterpiece)

It is incredibly relentless when it comes to its depiction of violence and profanity, and that is just the way we like it, as Logan delivers all of the things fans, and average moviegoers, could ask for from a great film such as this one!

Boy, that was a very nice cinematic parting shot! Thank you Hugh Jackman and Patrick Stewart for seventeen years of entertaining all of us for your contributions to the X-Men film franchise! Your performances will be forever remembered by moviegoers everywhere! Stay tuned for the black-and-white re-release of the film called "Logan Noir". Twice the grit, but it is still just Logan in black-and-white. And that wraps-up our movie review for today, and before we officially leave, here is a short film starring Ryan Reynolds as Deadpool again in a short film for the theatrical release of Logan. Stay tuned for more Dateline Movies!


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