- The kind of superhero movie we need more of
- Appropriately brutal violence
- A tonal triumph
- Pacing problems, especially after the first half
- Terrific performances from all the cast
- Flawed, but that enhances its uniqueness
The year is 2029. Logan (Hugh Jackman) is a broken man, hiding out in Mexico with a slowly deteriorating Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart). His healing factor is weakening and he’s starting to die. When a young girl named Laura (Dafne Keen) comes into his life after escaping from the cyborg Donald Pierce (Boyd Holbrook), he has to decide whether or not he wants to be a hero one last time.
This Is the End, Beautiful Friend
You have to applaud Logan. If nothing else, it’s a movie that commits to its adult tone and concept. In the crowded market of comic book cinema, that’s worth high praise. This is less of a Wolverine movie than a Western/road movie that features Logan in it. That’s kind of great. Logan doesn’t feel like any other “superhero” movie out there, and that’s not just because of the blood and the bad words. The approach that director James Mangold took was not only stylistically grounded, but also emotionally grounded. This isn’t a flick that needs to fulfill some kind of charm or humor quota. It allows itself to be what it should be: a melancholy meditation on a life that’s been fueled by murder and rage.
And I can’t lie, I was really hooked for the first third of the movie. The presentation and moodiness won me over. There’s a lot of visual storytelling going on in that first act and it all helps sell this particular take on Logan and his world. When the title pops up next to him after he’s been shot and fallen to the ground, you get exactly what this movie is going for. This is a story about a man at the sad end of his life. And without spoiling anything, I can assure you that Logan is a sad, sad movie. But, that doesn’t mean it isn’t entertaining for most of its runtime. The interplay between Logan, Charles, and the young Laura is delightful and helps keep things dynamic when the movie slows down.
Logan‘s Biggest Problem
Unfortunately, the movie reaches a climax towards the halfway point that seems like it should be the end. It’s a terrifically emotional and powerful sequence that makes the last third of the movie a real slog. Sure, there’s still great action and even impacting moments that happen in that final stretch. But it’s not nearly as tightly character-focused as the mid-movie climax.
To be honest, there are some pacing and plotting issues in general with the movie. I don’t want to rag on that aspect too much because it’s part of what makes Logan stand out among its comic book peers. This isn’t a story that needs to have bombastic action beats every 20 minutes. The quieter moments work well thanks to some great acting and a real commitment from the filmmakers to present something new for Logan to play with. Still, it’s almost like — to steal a line from my friend Travis Newton — we’re watching a director’s cut that made it to theaters. There are pros and cons to that, but considering how studio-controlled these kinds of movies often are, I’m more apt to be grateful for this.
Is Logan Good?
If what you want out of Logan is a strong closing story for the Wolverine, you’ll walk away satisfied enough. Is a mature and violent take on a superhero story more important to you? Logan goes above and beyond in that regard. But, if a concise and well-structured plot is necessary for you to enjoy a film, Logan will leave you a tad cold.
Even with that problem, this is a fantastic evolution of where these kinds of stories and characters can go. A superhero movie only needs to be true to itself and its characters. It doesn’t always need to be charming, quippy, epic, effects-heavy, or about saving the world/galaxy/Multiverse. Logan is exactly the movie it needs to be. That comes with some flaws, but even those imperfections make it something special.