It’s been 17 years (damn, I’m getting old) since the first X-Men movie crashed onto movie screens and propelled comic book movies into the forefront of action movie relevance. In the years since, Australian actor Hugh Jackman has played everyone’s favorite claw-popping badass, Wolverine, in eight different movies based in and around the X-Men universe. There’s been six movies and two Wolverine movies in the Cinematic Universe leading up to what is believed to be his final performance in the role. Although they all made a killing at the box office, those eight movies haven’t always been well received by fans and/or critics.
Somehow though, on the ninth try, 20th Century Fox got it right and gave Jackman and Wolverine the send-off they deserve with Logan. And the critics are LOVING this film. In my opinion, they’re loving it a little too much. Logan is a dope film, but for whatever reason fans and critics are hyping this film up like it’s the second Godfather movie. The film has a 92% on Rotten Tomatoes. That’s a pretty damn respectable number seeing as how critical darling La La Land has a 93%. Well, I’ve come to rain on the parade, but my aim is not to randomly hate on the movie just because it’s doing well. I really enjoyed Logan and I’m going to tell you why, but I’d also like to respectfully disagree with the hype floating around the web. Ride with me.
**CAUTION – SPOILERS AHEAD**
Logan is a comic book movie dressed as a Western with intimate storytelling, convincing characters, and serious themes; it also serves as a more than solid send off for Jackman’s Wolverine. Some critics think that’s enough to call it “the best superhero movie ever.” Not me. There’s a few hiccups that keep this from being the great film it could’ve been and they start with a pair of breasts. The film’s creative team got that R rating and thought they’d ride it off into the sunset so they threw in a random pair of breasts for absolutely no reason. Countless reviews speak on how Logan is the most grown up superhero movie they’ve seen, but the inclusion of the scene needlessly infused with nudity isn’t selling me on that. I’m a fan of the female form and have no problems with it being exposed in movies, except for when it’s done for NO REASON WHATSOEVER. Nudity just to have nudity feels cheap, and it’s not the only cheap moment for the film. Strike one.
No Healing Ability for Plot Holes
Logan kind of plays out like Terminator 2 in the sense that there’s a strong older guy protecting a young person who could be meaningful in the future. There’s also a bunch of traveling and a bunch of hiding out trying to avoid the bad guys. In some of these moments when the heroes catch some all too brief reprieve from their journey, they make terrible decisions. In one such scene, Logan and Professor X (played one final time by Patrick Stewart) help a family gather their horses after they lose control of their trailer on the freeway. The family invites them for dinner as thanks for their help and Professor X jumps at the offer knowing full and damn well that they’re on the run from some really bad people.
He’s putting this family in danger for no reason other than the main characters need to eat and the story needs a point in which the bad guys can catch up and do mean things. And mean things definitely occur. Another stumbling moment in the plot follows soon after when the bad guys’ secret weapon is revealed to the audience and Wolverine—and it’s WOLVERINE! Yeah, a clone of Wolverine is the big bad of the movie.
For those not in touch with their comic book side, one of the main protagonists, Laura/X-23 (played by child actor Dafnee Keen) is a clone of Wolverine. “Attack of the Clones” would not be a misleading title for this movie. I don’t have a problem with Laura being a clone because her character is right out of the comics and she is indeed a clone of Wolverine. The Wolverine-replica bad guy, though? That’s just lame and CHEAP. This is the end of Hugh Jackman’s run as Wolverine and the best they could give him was a clone? Strike two. (P.S. I don’t know where I pulled the strike/baseball analogy from. Just run with it.)
The Good, The Bad, The Ugly
Strike three? It’s a mix of the little things. Logan’s R-rating finally gave Wolverine some room to breathe in terms of violence, but the action isn’t anything you haven’t seen before. The fight choreography didn’t really change or evolve for the titular character. Laura steals the show when it comes to the action sequences. She’s every bit as feral, angry, and vicious as you’d imagine a young Wolverine to be. The dialogue they gave the young actress didn’t help her performance or the movie, though. The troublesome deus ex machina film device shows up in the final act also as Wolverine gets his hands on some green medicine that is basically mutant performance-enhancing drugs. He uses the medicine to Berserker Barrage on some rando commando enemies and then it wears off right before a big showdown with his doppelgänger. Convenient timing, for sure.
The ending aims for your heartstrings, but slightly missed mine because Laura, mourning the loss of her “father,” gives an awkward speech she ripped off from a cowboy movie she saw once in a hotel room earlier in the movie. I didn’t realize what she was quoting (or why) until she was done talking and by then I had missed the point. The little things count and they add up if they go unchecked. These issues didn’t ruin the film for me, but they kept it from being as great as everyone says it is.
All in all, I really enjoyed and really liked Logan. I’d see it again, and I’m actually pretty excited about the idea of there being a black and white version when the Blu-ray is released. Hugh Jackman delivered his best performance as Wolverine yet. His portrayal, much like the movie itself, was subdued, raw, and heartfelt in the best ways. Patrick Stewart gave us the compassionate, intelligent, loving Professor X that we know and love, while adding a layer of ornery old man that made him all the more lovable. The western vibe that’s ever-present throughout the film adds atmosphere to the already gritty setting, and there’s not a ton of computer generated SFX thrown in to ruin it. The story is small in scale, intimate, and personal. It was a great way to end Jackman’s run and give his version of the character a proper sendoff, but there’s just a handful of moments or issues that hold this film back from being reaching greatness.