Friday, March 03, 2017

'Logan' Is as Beautiful as It Is Badass

Logan is supposedly Hugh Jackman’s last outing as James Howlett a.k.a. Logan a.k.a. Wolverine, the iconic X-Man that he has portrayed superbly on the big screen in a span of nearly two decades.  If this is truly the end for Jackman, it proves to be a great send-off as Logan is a beautiful, genre-defying film.

The movie is inspired by the comic book Old Man Logan.  But aside from featuring an aged Logan in a future setting, they have no real similarities.  Set in the year 2029, wherein only a handful of mutants remains, Logan (Hugh Jackman) and Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart) are living in isolation and hiding, scarred by a painful experience that had left them the only surviving X-Men in the world.  Both are already way past their primes and have undergone significant depreciation – no longer in the condition to be the heroes that they used to be, emotionally and physically.  One day, a young mutant in need of help named Laura (Dafne Keen) – who has powers uncannily similar to Logan’s – shows up in their lives.  Suddenly, the three of them go on a road trip across the Midwest, with cybernetic thugs called Reavers in hot pursuit.
Logan is a significant departure from X-Men movies.  It’s no typical “dumb-and-fun” superhero movie.  It’s actually more of a grounded, art house-style drama that happens to have superheroes in it.  With Laura a.k.a. X-23 (spoiler alert, though this is not really a spoiler, if you’re familiar with the comics) being Logan’s clone, there’s a very moving “figuring out how to be father and daughter” arc going on for them.  Meanwhile, Xavier and Logan’s established father-son dynamic is also as touching.  And the dramatic performances by Jackman, Stewart, and Keen in portraying these characters are “awards consideration” quality.

Of course, it also doesn’t lack action.  Thanks to the success of Deadpool – proving that an “R” rating won’t hinder ticket sales – this movie was allowed to portray the brutal violence that a character like Wolverine can deliver.  And, indeed, the fight scenes here are gloriously epic.  Limbs are cut.  Heads roll.  It was wonderfully unrestrained, but never gratuitously gory – resulting to the most badass Wolverine movie action sequences ever.  I was grinning during these moments.
The run-time is above two hours, and its “serious drama” tone seems to make the pacing drag a bit (I even yawned once).  Though it doesn’t really get boring (my yawn was probably due more to being tired), I recognize that the way its narrative is presented leaves an opening for possible accusations of pretentiousness.  It just has some of that “baiting atmosphere.”  That said, I think there’s genuine purposeful development being done in every second of the movie, as well as a balancing of “loud” and “quiet”, so that excitement and emotion are delivered with more impact.

I had a tremendous time with this movie.  My only nitpick was that I found it lacking of real surprises.  By immediately recognizing what it was going for, I also immediately anticipated how the story would generally flow.  But aside from that, Logan is a nigh-masterpiece.

Miscellaneous musings (with some spoilers):
  • I would have preferred for X-23 to have been portrayed as a teen (like in the comics).  But I understand that in order for the father-daughter dynamic to work well, a pre-adolescent Laura is required.
  • I don’t know if this had been revealed in the trailers or leaked/reported in an article, but it was only when I watched the movie that I learned that Caliban was in it.
  • Jackman said he would return as Wolverine only if he’ll join the MCU.  There’s no way Fox is making that happen.  So, yeah, Jackman is retired as Wolverine.
  • A part of me is satisfied that Jackman ended his Wolverine run on a high note.  But I also believe he still has much in his tank.  For years, I had always thought that an Old Man Logan-style movie would serve as the perfect finale for Jackman as Wolverine, but he’s still too young to do it this soon.  Heck, he’s only 48.  I was thinking of around the age of 60 when I imagined that Old Man Logan movie.
  • He hasn’t even worn the iconic Wolverine costume and mask yet.
  • Also want to see him on an X-Force lineup in the big screen.
  • Still, if ten or fifteen years from now Marvel and Fox are able to make a deal of letting Wolverine appear in the MCU, they must let Jackman play the role.  In the comics, Old Man Logan is currently in the main Marvel Universe anyway.  Having Old Man Logan as the MCU’s version of Wolverine is actually a pretty exciting thought.
  • If we can’t see Jackman’s Wolverine wearing the costume, the next best thing is Laura assuming the codename of Wolverine and wearing the costume, just like in the comics.

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