Tuesday, February 28, 2017
Finally learning that bigger isn't always better (see X-Men: Apocalypse and X-Men: The Last Stand), 20th Century Fox has moved away from the super-sized team film. With both Logan and Legion (FX's new series based around the X-Men character of the same name), the X-Men universe is taking some interesting turns with a darker tone and smaller character-driven stories. Logan may not be as entertaining as Deadpool, but it definitely ranks as one of the better X-Men films (and easily the best of the Wolverine standalone movies).
Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) we haven't seen before. Inspired by Old Man Logan, the Logan we see has aged considerably since the events of Days of Future Past and his healing factor has begun to fail him. In a world where mutants are all but extinct, Logan works as a limousine driver making ends meet and keeping himself, Caliban (Stephen Merchant), and Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart) out of the limelight. Of course that changes when a young girl (Dafne Keen) with very similar abilities to his own shows up on his doorstep hunted by those who want her dead.
By far the bleakest of any of the X-Men films, Logan is also one of the most violent. Inspired, one would suppose, by John Wick, director James Mangold's (Knight and Day, 3:10 to Yuma) film gives us head-stabbings aplenty with a body count that gives Deadpool a run for its money. And rather than effortlessly falling into the same old character, the changes in Wolverine force Jackman to stretch his acting muscles a bit this time around. Keen is surprisingly adept at staying with Jackman in the movie's more emotional scenes. Jackman has already stated this would be his last time reprising the character and Logan works as a coda for this generation of X-Men movies (while leaving space for others in-between). However Keen's performance teases new avenues for the franchise to explore other than a simple reboot.
More than a little reminiscent of Léon, Logan isn't perfect. It leaves much unsaid about events leading up to this story (and the fate of the other X-Men), and greatly simplifies Laura's (Keen) origin story to fit easily into the script. The story also resurrects one of the franchises dumbest plot points from X-Men Origins: Wolverine, which (of course) plays out exactly as expected. As with The Wolverine, the movie also lacks a strong villain as the film's third act relies on a bit of a cheat in the final obstacle between Logan and getting Laura where she needs to be. The choice creates some effective action scenes, but the conflict from the story comes more from Logan fighting the limitations of old age than any impressive external forces. Despite these complaints, Logan delivers far more than what I was expecting and allows Jackman to leave the franchise on a high note.