'LOGAN': The review
- See the film in 2D regular. The IMAX version does not expand and fill the full IMAX screen, unfortunately. The only upside to the IMAX is the sound quality. For me, that's worth the extra $3 but it's not necessary.
- Make sure you get to theater to watch the trailers before LOGAN starts. There is a massive surprise right before LOGAN starts. Trust me, it's awesome.
- Note to parents: This film is very R-Rated. This is not a PG-13 X-Men film. There are real consequences to the violence and it is extremely brutal. The film will take a toll on you, emotionally.
I wanted to start off my Logan review by thanking James Mangold, Hugh Jackman, Sir Patrick Stewart and Dafne Keen for their brilliant work on this film. I was speechless. There are times when you are sitting in a theater and you know you are watching something special. You get this great feeling that you are part of something new, exciting and you just can't wait to get out and tell the world about it. Recently, I felt the same way during films like "Deadpool," "The Dark Knight," "Captain America: Winter Soldier" and more. The common theme between those films is that they were game-changers in the superhero genre. Like "The Dark Knight," "Logan" is much more than a superhero film. In fact, I would say "Logan" is NOT a superhero film. "The Dark Knight" was a crime drama in the same vein of Michael Mann's masterpiece, "Heat." "Logan" is a western in the same vein as Clint Eastwood's "Unforgiven" or George Stevens' "Shane."
"Logan" is easily the best performance of Hugh Jackman's career. It's raw, deeply emotional and insanely awesome. This is a character Jackman has played nine times over seventeen years. While I've always loved Jackman in the role, I feel that the character was being held back by the PG-13 rating. Wolverine is a deeply layered character going on one of the most insane emotional journeys we've seen on the big screen. The journey itself is very R-Rated, real and raw. What the PG-13 films failed to do was the show the true consequences of the violence and the emotions that Jackman's character goes through. With "Logan," we are getting an older Logan but the most realistic version we have seen of him on-screen. I'm not saying that the violence makes the performance better but it feels like you are watching a person struggling and dealing with these mutant aspects in the real world. This really sets up a very scary tone and gives us an extremely dark look in to the world of being a mutant. You sit inside these emotional and brutal moments which allows reflection and realism to set in.
This is the Wolverine film that we have all been waiting for. Mangold delivers the film that fans have deserved since Jackman put the claws on seventeen years ago. With brilliant films like "3:10 To Yuma" and "Walk The Line" under Mangold's belt, he brings the character to the screen in a beautiful western. The film feels dirty, gritty and dusty giving it a beautiful 35mm look even though it was shot digitally.
The sequences of violence have a very interesting tone. While you are disturbed by the brutality and realism, there's also a rewarding sense of seeing Wolverine in his true form. The conflict is that Logan doesn't want to be violent. When you watch the films, you know his character has a heart and would prefer not to be killing people. I use the word "rewarding" because this violence is inflicted on bad people. It's strange to say that the violence in a movie is awesome. I recently equated it to the way an audience watches "John Wick 2." You find yourself cheering for the character because he or she is killing bad people. I've always found that to be an interesting concept that an audience sits in a theater rooting for these violent scenes. Watching Logan tear through villains is just awesome even though it's terrifyingly brutal. This was a reason why the first "John Wick" worked so well. Not only was Wick taking out bad guys but he was also seeking vengeance for the murder of his dog.
Mangold said something very interesting about the difference in PG-13 vs. R-Rated violence. Using the word "penetration," he explains that it's more about the blade entering someone's skin. When you go back and Mangold's "The Wolverine" or the original X-Men films, you notice that you hardly see the claws actually enter someone's body. If you do, it's from a distance. In "Logan," there are are sequences where you see the claws going in to a villain's chin and coming out of the top of their head. The MPAA has a major problem with that and blood which is interesting because you can have a PG-13 movie with people being shot and killed yet if you show a limited amount of blood, you don't get the R-Rating. It's the same crazy standard that allows two F-words in a PG-13 movie but once you get to the 3rd F-word, you get the R-rating. It's also why you can't put the word "mother" before the F-word in a PG-13 movie. When you're watching LOGAN, keep in mind that this film has the same rating as THE KING SPEECH. Crazy right?
Back to the performances, let's talk about Sir Patrick Stewart. This is one of the best performances of Stewart's career and he 100% deserves an Oscar nomination. The performance has such physical and emotional demands with devastating consequences. Stewart plays this part perfectly and just plays it with a beautiful sincerity.
Now, to the star of the film; Dafne Keen. Keen is a young Spanish actress who plays the character of X-23. As you see in the trailers, she has many similarities to Logan. Keeping this spoiler free, X-23 (Laura) enters Logan's life and changes everything. In the beginning, we see that Logan is a limo driver trying to earn some extra money while he and Charles Xavier hide out in Mexico. The year is 2029 and the last mutant "born" was 25-years prior. X-23 (Keen) is on the run from some very dark forces and it's up to Logan and Charles to protect her. That's all I'm going to say about the plot and please try to stay away from any spoilers.
I wanted to point out a very specific filmmaking technique that Mangold used in the film. When you see the trailers, you can see that Charles is having seizures at some points in the film. Basically, when this happens, it puts everyone around him in a comatose state. People can't move and are in extreme amounts of pain. Logan's strength allows him to slowly walk through this but you can see the struggle as if he's being held back by something. Mangold did something very fascinating with the camera where he shook it and then ran in through a stabilizer. This created a very interesting effect and puts you in that frantic state. There's one particular sequence that takes place in a casino that reminded me very much of the Quicksilver sequence from "Days of Future Past." You see part of this in trailer as Logan is in the hallway. For Jackman, he wanted to make it look like he was pushing through this with extreme force. Therefore, he had ropes attached to his body and people pulling him back to create that effect of him trying to move through. It really is an incredible and very affective tool. That scene is insane and I found myself holding my breath.
Mangold, Stewart, Jackman and Keen deliver a masterful work of art from the first to last frame. Even Boyd Holbrook does a great job as the villain in the film. From start to finish, this film works so well. "Logan" is my second 5/5 rating of 2017. The first being Jordan Peele's GET OUT.
Watch my interview with Hugh Jackman here: http://www.fox5dc.com/good-day/fox-beat/237662908-story