Film #67: LOGAN
4 out of 5 stars
Comic book movies have, since their inception, had a problem… and that problem is that there are essentially two audiences for them. The first is kids. Hey, it’s based on a comic book and Western audiences usually associate that with being a child (or an Internet shut-in). The second audience are adult fans who still want their nostalgia, but also crave more compelling themes than the usual “kick-punchy” fare seen in most comic book movies. A year or so ago, DEADPOOL came along and showed that, yes… there are audiences out there that want more steak with their sizzle (ie, stories of more philosophical weight). Sadly, DEADPOOL’s success was considered an anomaly. But that’s all changed now with the release of director James Mangold’s (THE WOLVERINE, WALK THE LINE, GIRL INTERRUPTED) interpretation of the OLD MAN LOGAN storyline, LOGAN. Mangold effortlessly raises the bar on the kinds of comic book-based stories that are possible now that we’ve kicked off the restraints demanded by that first audience (kids). LOGAN is a stunning achievement… if only for that, but there’s so much more. Bleak, weighty, and resonant, LOGAN subtly asks questions of the audience and the genre that are not easily answered. “Wouldn’t being given incredible gifts also imply that those gifts have a price?” “What is family?” “What obligation do we have to the children who are growing up in a world WE made?” “What does it mean to age and get old?” There’s so much rich ground to cover here that we begin to see a ton of much more satisfying narrative possibilities. Clearly, this is the film Jackman was destined to make. His Wolverine is much truer to the comic and is, in fact, the version of the character we should have seen at the outset of the X MEN films (but that pesky first audience kept us from). Patrick Stewart does a journeyman’s job of delineating exposition and bringing everyone up to speed. The irony of Professor X (a man who used the awesome capabilities of his brain) crippled by dementia is masterfully handled and spot on. It’s all handled so well that its easy think the actor is not acting at all. Stewart’s aged Professor X is everything you’d expect him to be in his 90s. The rest of the cast is rounded out by Stephen Merchant (THE OFFICE), Richard E Grant (WITHNAIL AND I), and Eric LaSalle (ER) among others. The standout though is young Dafne Keen who stars as Laura, the gifted young child who is every bit an equal to Jackman’s Weapon X. Keen plays the young Laura with such quiet dignity that it makes her scenes of violence all the more breathtaking. And make no mistake… there are some VERY violent moments in LOGAN. Heads are decapitated and impaled. Limbs are shorn. Seeing the girl viciously attack grown men is alarming in its ferocity. And is again… exactly who and what both of these characters were meant to be. Sure, there are problems… some things happen VERY conveniently and there are plot turns that border on the contrived, but these are small quibbles in an otherwise masterful work. I found it interesting... the showing I attended had a lot of guys in it. During one specific scene (if you’ve seen it, you know the one), it was hard to miss the sniffling and the wiping of eyes in the crowd. Just mindblowing. Hopefully, LOGAN (along with the upcoming DEADPOOL 2) can convince studios that audiences want films that are based on more adult-themed comic book properties… and that they can be financially successful. Because, once they become convinced of their viability, the whole landscape opens up. I mean, imagine… Frank Miller’s RONIN. Warren Ellis’ TRANSMETROPOLITAN.s heck, even a full-blown LOBO film becomes a feasible option. But yeah… LOGAN. Solid stuff and potentially transformative for the entire genre. Highly recommended!