Logan Movie Review
Watching Logan is like watching modern day Tiger Woods play golf: he shows flashes of his former ass-kicking self but is ultimately sidelined by pain, misery and suffering. The third dedicated Wolverine movie and second directed by James Mangold, Logan is satisfying in that it is a markedly different comic book movie than what we’ve seen in recent years--and it’s frustrating in that it trades straight-up entertainment value for melancholy drama.
Logan is an extremely well made and performed movie, one that works better as a drama about old age and rediscovering yourself than it does as an action movie about a character who is known for kicking ass and being literally unkillable. Set more than a decade in the future where most mutants have been killed off (including most of the X-Men), the movie is about an angry, weaker and dying Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) who spends his days caring for an angry, weaker Professor X (Patrick Stewart). When a young girl comes into their lives boasting similar powers to Logan, the two elder mutants hit the road to protect her from advancing government forces.
Hugh Jackman is rock solid as the title character, delivering one of the best performances of his career unrestrained by PG-13 ratings you never knew were so limiting to the character. Logan’s Wolverine is a bitter, depressed and violent individual, and Jackman cherishes the most interesting arc his character has been given since the original X-Men movies.
Even better is Patrick Stewart, who, playing a dementia-ridden man (mind you, with the ability to kill people with his mind… not a good combination) in the waning days of his life, matches Jackman step for step with an equally emotional and darkly hilarious turn (he’s cranky, snarky and more than willing to drop f-bombs). If not for the genre and early release date, he’d be a consideration for best supporting actor.
As great as Logan looks, as well as it’s written, and as well as it’s performed, the movie is still a comic book adaptation where action matters more than anything else.
And this is where the film falters.
Mangold assembles a few solid action sequences and the bursts of violence scattered throughout are well conceived and considerably more brutal given the film’s R rating. As awesome as Wolverine is in the other X-Men movies, you don’t realize just how much of the character--his foul mouth, his bad attitude, his ability to slice people’s heads in half--was left unseen until now. In Logan, when Wolverine draws his claws, blood flies profusely and it is glorious.
The introduction of a young new mutant named Laura (Dafne Keen) who is just as fierce and violent as Wolverine--but unencumbered by old age or dwindling powers--makes for some highly enjoyable moments as well. Keen is a terrific addition.
The problem: in his dedication to telling the story he wanted to tell, Mangold forgot what the audience really wants to see. Logan has long stretches with no action or suspense, and at two hours and 15 minutes long, it feels way too long. The movie is never boring, but it comes close several times. Those expecting consistent action will be disappointed.
The underlying issue is that Logan never builds to something great. Its patient and thoughtful storytelling approach works for a while, but the climax, while fine from an action perspective, is not the epic showdown that was needed to make up for its lack of action earlier on. In essence, you get to the end and go, “Hmm, I was expecting more.”
The villains are largely disappointing, too. While Boyd Holbrook plays a convincing guy-you-love-to-hate, his “boss” leaves absolutely no lasting impressive, and the big physical threat to Logan himself is uninspiring and disappointing; without giving too much away, given that the movie centers on a Wolverine who can no longer heal from his wounds so easily, why couldn’t the filmmakers have taken things in a more interesting direction?
Logan is a good movie, but it’s a good movie that will divide audiences. It’s much more interesting than the generic and predictable MCU movies being cranked out--and certainly of better quality than the DC movies of late--but Logan isn’t as entertaining or exciting. While the concept of an old man Logan is cool, the movie suffers from a fundamental problem: you want to see Wolverine kick ass like he always did, but just like Tiger Woods, he isn’t able to deliver.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.