Monday, 6 March 2017
Directed by James Mangold
UK cinema release print.
And here we go again with what is probably the last of the X-Men movies to feature the popular 1970s creation Weapon X, aka Wolverine... at least with Hugh Jackman in the titular role and before 20th Century Fox start on the inevitable reboots to retain the options on the characters (one would suppose). That being said, Logan doesn’t quite feel like the majority of the X-Men movies out there, although it does have some of the feel of The Wolverine (reviewed by me here), which is to be expected since that movie was also directed by James Mangold.
This movie has a harder 15 rating over here and an R rating in America (and is on its way to becoming the biggest earning R rated movie they’ve had, by the looks of it). What that means in terms of the central character is that the violence is exactly as grim as you might expect from some of the comics and the tone is quite downbeat. The story content, for example, exactly matches that grimness, giving us a film set ten or so years in our future where there are no more mutants being born and, out of the few who are left, the two we are most concerned about here are both dying. It’s been said that this is Patrick Stewart’s last go at the Professor X character too and, for this one, he impressively lost a lot of weight for the role so he could play a very sick version of his iconic character... one who is prone to brain seizures which, if they are left unchecked and without medication, are capable of killing everyone around him. So we have a future where Wolverine and a mutant called Caliban are looking after the Professor but are also in hiding due to an incident in their past. You do get to hear what this incident, roughly, is but a lot of it is left to the imagination and no real details are revealed... which is a shame because I would have liked to know a little more.
And then, into this grim world comes a mutant child who has been genetically injected, along with other children, and raised from the DNA samples you may remember being ‘retrieved’ in the post credits scene from the last movie in the series, X-Men: Apocalypse (reviewed here). And the government programme that created this group of pre-teen killing machines, as shown in the film in no uncertain terms, wants them all back as they escaped before they could be murdered in favour of another programme. And so, in the case of one of the children, Laura (played nicely by Dafne Keen), it kind of falls on the reluctant Logan and the enthusiastic but extremely cranky Professor X to get her to a place called Eden... the origins of which I won’t spoil for you here.
And that’s that. The movie is a road trip film with certain X-Men-like events happening and a kind of bonding between Logan and Laura as the three main characters are thrown into the mix together. The director also exhibits a certain passion for showing one of his key influences, the old Alan Ladd version of Shane, up on the screen and, I have to say, it was kinda nice to see Jack Palance shoot Elisha Cook Jr on a large screen again. I have to say, though, that the references dotted about all over the place in reference to this movie are not exactly subtle and I think they could have been a little less overt and seemingly important than they are made out to be here.
But it’s not a bad little film, to be honest. It didn’t quite hit all the marks for me and I think I preferred the other two Wolverine-centric movies over this one but... it’s still a pretty good movie and much better than, say, the third movie, X-Men - The Last Stand, and the relatively recent X-Men - Days Of Future Past (reviewed here). I think it does the main character a little less justice than he deserves and it seems like he’s not learned anything from the arc which has brought him to where he is in this one but, maybe he’s as confused at the cracked continuity of the series of films as his audience, perhaps?
I hate to break it to anyone but this film in no way attempts to fix the completely bonkers lack of joining up and co-existing of various elements of the X-Men franchise, which seems to have been compounded and made worse with every movie made since the third one (except maybe for the second of the movies featuring Deadpool, from last year... you can read my review of that one here). It doesn’t explain how Wolverine was able to have Professor X in his Patrick Stewart body back at the end of The Wolverine and nor does it explain why, at the beginning of Days Of Future Past, he once more had adamantium claws when we’d clearly seen them stripped back down to bone claws in the previous film. And there are some other obvious errors which I won’t go into here but which make this, once again, impossible to exist with the other films in the franchise... something which can be said for pretty much every movie since The Last Stand.
But never mind... flawed as this movie contnuity is, there are some really nice things in it, not least of which is that the X-Men have also become fictional characters in a series of comics published by Marvel. Actually, although the various comics throughout the movie look and feel like 1970s issues of X-Men, they were in fact created with new artwork for the movie... so if you’re looking for a specific key issue which is used as an important plot point here then please don’t bother, the issue doesn’t exist outside of this movie.
I haven't got much else to say about this one, to be fair, but I did enjoy it and I’ll probably watch it again when it gets its inevitable Blu Ray release. There’s also a nice Marco Beltrami score which gives it a different feel to what I was expecting... almost playing against the tone of the film in some places but still managing to somehow work. There’s also some good song placement needle dropped in on this one so, all in all, the music was pretty good and I’m certainly looking forward to listening to a CD release of Beltrami’s music at some point.
If you’re a fan of the X-Men movies then you shouldn’t have a problem with Logan. It’s not an all out action fest like some of the films but, at the same time, the violence in this is quite intense and, certainly, fans of the Wolverine character from the comic books should enjoy this one. It’s definitely a mature take on the characters and, in this case, it’s also a depressing one so, you know, don’t go to this one expecting to come out on a high. If you go in knowing that from the outset... and I’m sure most people can figure out what’s going to happen in this one anyway, just by looking at the trailers... then you should have an okay time with it.