Even before it was released, “Logan” received the kind of effusive “La La Land”-like praise that is hard to take seriously and actively annoying. According to early reviews, “Logan” was the best film in the Wolverine series, which is faint praise for anyone who’s ever sat through “X-Men Origins: Wolverine” or “The Wolverine.”
It doesn’t take all that much to be the “best film in the Wolverine series,” it just has to be nearly unwatchable instead of completely unwatchable.
It’s a very low bar.
But as it turns out, all of that pre-release hype was right. It isn’t the best Wolverine movie but it’s probably the best comic book movie ever made. It’s a strong, solid movie in its own right and, without a doubt, the best film to date directed by James Mangold (another low bar. He is the same man behind “Identity,” Knight and Day” and “The Wolverine”).
In “Logan” Logan, aka Wolverine (Hugh Jackman), is reduced to being an alcoholic, part-time limo driver who mostly lives out of his car and is slowly dying from Adamantium poisoning you may have already forgotten he got in “The Wolverine.”
If you couldn’t already guess, “Logan” is cast from the same ‘grim and gritty’ mold as Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight Trilogy and Zack Snyder’s DC movie-verse. But unlike the Batman and Superman films which are “adult” in an adolescent, ‘correcting-your-mother-for-calling-them-funnybooks’ kind of way, “Logan” is adult in the way action movies from the ’80s were adult. Which, granted, is still pretty adolescent. But it’s an adolescent I can stand, unlike Nolan and Snyder’s films which all replicate the feeling of being cornered at a party by some dude that’s not nearly as smart as he thinks he is who won’t shut up about Nietzsche and smells like lunchmeat and germs.
At any rate, “Logan” is a bleak, dark and mostly hopeless film. Set 13 years in the future, “Logan” takes place in a dystopian version of the United States where corporations seem to wield unchecked power and mutants are mostly extinct.
For all intents and purposes, Wolverine is just waiting to die. His one goal in life is to spend his final days on a yacht with his mentor, Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart), who seems to be suffering from dementia induced seizures that appear to psychically affect anyone within a one-mile radius. But just as Wolverine is about to crawl into a dark, booze sodden hole, he’s confronted by a woman who insists on helping her smuggle her glowering, seemingly mute daughter (Dafne Keen in one of the most promising big screen debuts in recent film history) across the Canadian border.
Reluctantly, Wolverine agrees. However the woman and her daughter are not as they seem. Keen is an escapee from a genetic research facility and, just like Wolvie, has an Adamantium skeleton as well as an advanced healing factor. Government agents with useless cybernetic hands, that exist only to be destroyed, are trying to recapture Keen and use her as a living weapon. Of course, they’re going to have to get through Logan first but considering he now struggles to take out a gang of barely competent car thieves, they might have a shot.
Following in the footsteps of last year’s popular but irritating “Deadpool,” “Logan” is rated R for violence, profanity and brief nudity. But unlike, “Deadpool” none of this feels gratuitous. A PG-13 rating was never true to the character. Also unlike “Deadpool” or mostly any other comic book movie, the characters in “Logan” are more well-rounded and fully realized. In their weakened, vulnerable states, Professor X and Wolverine are relatable and human. Additionally, in spite of the hopeless atmosphere of the movie, “Logan” is heartfelt and tender at times. A true rarity today, “Logan” is a comic book movie that will appeal to lovers and haters of comic book movies.
Mike Sullivan is a movie reviewer for Weekender. Movie reviews appear weekly in Weekender.
Starring: Hugh Jackman, Patrick Stewart, Dafne Keen, Boyd Holbrook, Stephen Merchant, Richard E. Grant
Director: James Mangold
Weekender Rating: WWWWV
Length: 141 minutes