The first thing one will notice about Logan, after a prologue/advert that you will not see coming, is that this is not Bryan Singer’s X-Men. Logan is the ninth film in the X-Men franchise and the third standalone Wolverine film. And it is a grizzled, grisly action tragedy. Not what one would expect from this comic book franchise.
An opening action sequence promises brutality not seen in comic book cinema to date, and it delivers. This is as rough and tumble as it gets.
Logan (Hugh Jackman), aka The Wolverine, is now an older, drinking limo driver. His healing factor slowed, his adamantium not functionally properly, Logan is a crippled mutant in a future where mutants, the few that are left, have been reduced to hiding once again
The new gritty take on X-Men is a welcome perspective, especially given the sanitation of Wolverine’s character in previous installments. It is the tone that this film needs, even if some parts take the hard-R rating beyond what is necessary, most likely in an effort to milk the rating for all it is worth.
I just never saw Professor Xavier (Patrick Stewart), even in his older years, as a cursing man.
With the outlaw mentality of a Western, Logan shirks the past political motivations of its mutant characters. The narrative is simple: protection and self-preservation.
Action sequences take their time to develop, building from a quiet lull to a raucous pitch. Some of the cinematography gets a bit shaky at times, but it rarely comes to the point of confusion over what is happening in the frame.
Logan wants to be a Western. It even takes lengthy screentime to show scenes from Shane. The film does have some tropes of the Western, but at its core it really remains a superhero film. The truth is that the superhero film has lifted Western tropes historically. The black hat-white hat mentality moved from Western to action to comic book film. In Logan, we get this binary literalized, just as some Westerns have done, only this time with a black muscle tee-white muscle tee dynamic.
Logan is, bar none, the best acted X-Men film. Jackman and Stewart put in their best performances as their respective characters. Stewart, in particular, is given the rare superhero character with depth, and he brings his immense talent to it in a role that is at times delightful, at times heartbreaking, and often both simultaneously.
It is not hard to deem Logan the best X-Men film ever made. You can have your X2‘s and your Deadpool and your Days of Future Past and your X-Men Origins: Wolverine (sorry, I don’t know how that one got in there).
Logan has the unrestrained raw energy needed to make the X-Men universe interesting. Take X-Men: Apocalypse and its mediocrity as an example of what has been done wrong in previous X-Men films. They are tame, predictable, and largely action sequences built around a weak or entirely absent plot. Logan is not tame, and even when it is predictable it balances its story and its action in a way that comic book movies should always do.
Logan is fantastic. Just don’t take the kids.
As always, thanks for reading!
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—Alex Brannan (@TheAlexBrannan)