It’s finally here; a movie about Wolverine that gets the character absolutely, 100% right. We’ve had good Wolverine films before, but nothing like this. Logan is, by every standard, a definitive film about the feral mutant… and a well-deserved conclusion to actor Hugh Jackman’s time as the man once known as the adamantium-laced titular character. But what makes Logan different from every other X-Men movie out there? Well besides the solid ‘R’ rating for graphic violence and provocative language (to put it lightly), it’s a movie that strips away all the excess CGI and character-and-cameo overload and sticks to a grounded, gritty, character-driven story about one of the last remaining mutants in a world that has driven them to the brink of extinction.
Or have they?
The emergence of a young mutant named Laura drives a mentally-unstable Charles Xavier and a grizzled, war-torn Logan to believe that mutankind still has a chance to not only survive, but possibly prosper… and thus starts an intense cat-and-mouse chase that serves the backbone of this final film in Wolverine’s cinematic saga that began way back in the year 2000. I’ve compiled 15 reasons why Logan is the best damn Wolverine movie ever made to date, and why you should rush out to see it the first chance you get!
15. It’s Brutally Violent… Finally!
Look, let’s not mince words here… the Wolverine is an inherently violent character. It’s not so much that he loves violence, – it’s actually pretty much the opposite – but he constantly finds himself in the middle of impossibly violent situations. The character is basically a weaponized experiment gone rogue… meaning when he’s faced with trouble, his only mode of survival is to hack, slash, and claw his way out. Which is why no movie before Logan has truly done this major aspect of Wolverine any justice.
Logan changes all that. It’s been a long time since I winced in a movie, but I did it not even halfway through Hugh Jackman’s final escapade as the unhinged mutant. The violence is brutal and the gore is something we’ve never seen before on the receiving end of Wolverine’s infamous claws. That being said, it isn’t unnecessarily violent. It isn’t a gore-fest. It shows Wolverine’s berserker rage in all its glory and there’s a lot of blood, but the movie doesn’t go out of its way to be violent for no reason, which I thought was a compliment to the filmmaking prowess of director James Mangold, who was able to show restraint and focus on the story instead of the shock value.
14. The Score Is Really, Really Good
Music in a film is as important as the visuals on screen. A score can make or break a scene by either invoking a desired emotion in an audience or do the opposite by completely missing its mark and rendering the scene flat and dull. Luckily for Logan, composer Marco Beltrami brings a powerful, haunting score to the film that completely complements the movie’s dark, gritty, and oftentimes marvelously colored visuals.
Marco Beltrami has a f*ckton of good films on his resume, with a good portion of those films coming from the horror genre, which is why the music in Logan is sometimes unnerving and mildly uncomfortable. But Beltrami is no stranger to director James Mangold or critically-acclaimed films. 10 years ago, he provided the score to Mangold’s critical success, 3:10 To Yuma. And then the following year he was responsible for the suspense-inducing music in The Hurt Locker. But I suspect Logan may be Marco Beltrami’s magnum opus because the beats are perfectly timed and none of the score seems out of place or simply patched in. In fact, the score to Logan is very reminiscent of old Western films… which isn’t all that surprising since both James Mangold and Hugh Jackman have said time after time that Logan draws its inspiration from old Western classics like Shane, Unforgiven, and The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly.
13. The Cast Bring Their A-Game
Superhero movies aren’t exactly known for their acting prowess or phenomenal performances. Don’t get me wrong, the movies themselves have fantastic actors in them playing all sorts of roles, but the superhero genre itself is more popular for its style, spectacle, and grand blockbuster overtones. Obviously there’s the exception to the rule a la The Joker in The Dark Knight, but this isn’t a regular ordeal in superhero films.
Logan completely changes all that. Because the movie does away with the CGI-overload and the extravagant storylines, the plot becomes highly dependent on the performances of the actors, and man oh man do they bring their best damn A-game to each and every scene! Hugh Jackman brings an intensity that we’ve never seen before to Logan, while Patrick Stewart’s portrayal of a broken, ailing Professor X will have you tearing up more than once throughout the film. And then there’s Dafne Keen, the new kid on the block, who is so believable as X-23 that she’s possibly my new favorite kid in any film, rivaled only by the kids in Stranger Things. Even Stephen Merchant, who plays the mutant Caliban, gives the role everything he’s got and then some. The movie is chock-full of amazingly natural, realistic performances and it’ll be a damn shame if at least one of these people doesn’t get some sort of recognition at the Oscars.
12. It’s A Standalone Film
Although Logan exists in the X-Men timeline, it doesn’t really follow any other movie in the X-Men series. Heck, the X-Men movies themselves have said “f*ck it” to their own timeline at this point, and no one really expects them to follow a strict pattern anymore. For instance, we all know X-Men Origins: Wolverine probably never happened, and X3: The Last Stand was rejigged thanks to the time-tinkering in X-Men: Days Of Future Past, while certain events in X-Men: Apocalypse contradicts its predecessor as well as the first X-Men film.
Logan, on the other hand, loosely hints at the events of the previous films while also showing us some things that link back to James Mangold’s previous film, The Wolverine. And that’s basically it! You can still thoroughly enjoy Logan even if you’ve never seen another X-Men movie. You won’t be able to enjoy all that nostalgia, and you probably won’t get the references, but as a standalone film it does pretty decently by itself. It has a solid runtime which means nothing is rushed, characters are properly fleshed out, and by the end of it all you’ll be able to come out of the cinema saying you’ve seen a damn good movie even if you have no idea how it connects to the rest of the X-Men mutant-verse.
When you bring a new character into a movie that’s largely meant to focus on only one person, there’s always the fear that the new character may ruin the flow by being shoehorned into the plotline. This is NOT the case with Dafne Keen’s X-23. Without getting into any details, X-23 is not only likeable from the moment she shows up on screen, but Dafne Keen’s portrayal of the new mutant is highly commendable. Dafne plays her part so incredibly well that she blends in with veterans Patrick Stewart and Hugh Jackman, both of whom chew up the scenery with their brutally-intense performances.
The great thing about X-23 though, is that the character isn’t an unnecessary addition like a lot of other supporting characters in most superhero movies. Instead of bloating the story, she adds so much more to it because the plot primarily revolves around her. The character itself is vicious, aggressive, and fits perfectly in this new “world without mutants”. Best of all, she plays off the character of Wolverine so well that it’s part beautiful, part heartbreaking, and part awesome all at the same time.
10. It’s A Writer’s Movie
You may have noticed that director James Mangold is also the one who wrote this film, Logan. It’s always a hit or miss situation when a director also serves as the writer on deck, but in Logan’s case, things turned out stunningly well. Some directors are great at telling someone else’s story, while others excel when telling their own. Obviously James Mangold is the latter because you can tell that Logan is a writer’s movie not even halfway through the film. While the visuals are shot beautifully and the score is amazing, it’s the story that drives the movie forward and the story in Logan moves along flawlessly… which is either the mark of a strong understanding between writer and director, or just the fact that the director is also the writer.
The pacing and editing for Logan is clean, precise, and seamless because Mangold is in charge of his own story. He penned it, so he knows how fast or how slow a scene should take, or how long a plotline should go on for. It’s nice to see a movie take its time with the plot while focusing on the characters by giving them room to breathe and grow.
9. Cinematography, Lighting, and Landscapes
John Mathiesen was responsible for the cinematography in Logan, and I think it’s safe to say the movie boasts some of the most beautiful shots out of all the X-Men movies… by far! Like I previously mentioned, Logan does away with all the face-melting visual effects and sticks to the characters to tell a story, and director James Mangold plonks these characters in front of some amazing backdrops. Now when I say that, I don’t expect you to imagine sweeping landscapes from The Lord Of The Rings. Logan keeps things gritty and rustic, but the choice of camera angles, lighting, as well as the way we’re taken across different locations allows for some great cinematic shots that need to be enjoyed on the biggest screen possible. And these aren’t even sci-fi landscapes. It’s just the way these regular, grounded landscapes are shot that makes them so pleasant to look at. I can’t give more details away without spoiling the film.
Another thing to admire in Logan is the use of color. Right from the opening scene, you can see that James Mangold exercises his skills as a damn good photographer to compose these neon-lit, wonderfully-colored and composed shots that gives Logan a slightly dystopian albeit beautiful setting to play in.
8. The Bond Between Professor X and Wolverine
While most of the X-Men films have dealt with the complex relationship between Professor X and Magneto, a bulk of the movies have also simultaneously developed the bond between Charles Xavier and the Wolverine. Ever since the first X-Men film, Logan and Xavier have had a strong, almost-paternal relationship with one another because of the trust that they’ve put on each other. Every poignant scene in the entire series, including Xavier’s demise at the hand of the Phoenix in X3, was witnessed and later avenged by none other than the Wolverine. He’s also the one Xavier relied on to travel back in time in Days Of Future Past.
Therefore, it only makes sense that the one thing Logan would hold on to in this desolate landscape is his father-figure, Professor Charles Xavier. I honestly don’t think the movie would even be half as good if Professor X wasn’t in it. Logan perfectly sums up the ties that bind the unhinged, feral mutant to the calm and collected Charles Xavier by flipping the script and making Logan care for Professor X this time around. The results are both heartbreaking and inspiring all at the same time.
7. The Runtime is Perfect
One of the most underrated aspects of any given film is the runtime to which it is assigned. Logan runs at a good 137 minutes, which equates to nearly two and a half hours, but because of how well the film is paced, it doesn’t feel that long at all… and neither does it feel abrupt or way too fast. It all boils down to proper storytelling and how skilled a director is at trimming the fat on his final cut in the editing room. The biggest issue fans had with The Hobbit movies came down to how the movies had to stretch themselves thin over exorbitant runtimes, which eventually made some scenes feel long-winded and overly dragged out. Logan has none of that.
The movie is as lean as lean can be but also, for lack of better word, epic in scale. There are a bunch of different locations in this movie that make it feel like an old Western adventure spanning the country, but because each scene is loaded with a constantly-progressing story, none of the movie feels unnecessary or overly long. I’d say Logan is one of the few movies that fits perfectly well in its 137-minute runtime. Heck, I wouldn’t mind a few extra minutes to be honest.
6. There’s A Real Villain
A hero is only as good as his adversaries. If you have a weak villain who has an even weaker plan, chances are your hero’s achievement won’t look that great at all. You’ve heard people complain about Marvel Studios’ slate of villains being one-dimensional and of no threat to Earth’s Mightiest Heroes, and they’re right. With the exception of Loki, Marvel’s villains don’t stand a chance against the Avengers.
Logan is different though. Unlike nearly every movie out there, Logan shows the Wolverine as a much weaker character with a healing factor that isn’t what it used to be. He’s older, slower, and the effects of centuries at war with a multitude of forces have begun to take their toll… and the results aren’t pretty. Because of this, the villains in Logan actually stand a chance at winning. The Reavers, led by Boyd Holbrook’s character Pierce, are a brutal, ruthless pack of hunters who sniff out Logan no matter where he goes. And once they’ve detected his whereabouts, they come with complete, unfiltered aggression. In Logan, you actually fear the bad guys, which is what makes us love the good guys even more.
5. Fan Service, The Way It Should Be
Fan service is a tricky business. Too much fan service can make a movie feel cheesy and too on-the-nose… while too little can distance a movie from its franchise and leave fans feeling unsatisfied. That’s why it’s really important to handle hints, foreshadowing, namedropping, and Easter eggs very carefully, otherwise you could end up overdoing it. While Star Wars: The Force Awakens is a juggernaut film and only the third film in history to enter the coveted “$2billion dollar club”, one of the biggest complaints from fans was that it relied too much on paying homage to the original Star Wars trilogy.
Logan, however, does not need to worry about all that because it handles fan service perfectly well. You still get your nostalgia fix and your subtle hints about previous events in the X-Men timeline(s), but those hints never overshadow anything that’s happening in the film. And if you had any fears after seeing Logan holding an X-Men comicbook in the trailers, you can put those worries to rest because the comics fit seamlessly into the narrative. Logan is a new, original film in the X-Men franchise that doesn’t use any of the old plotlines and tropes, and this applies to the hints and Easter Eggs as well; they’re wholly original and not your usual “wink wink” moments that we’ve grown to expect from a lot of superhero films.
4. It’s Not Afraid of Showing Emotion
Make no mistake about it, Logan is a film that packs an emotional punch. And they don’t hold back on those punches either. Except for a few poignant scenes in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and a bunch in Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy, superhero movies don’t really focus on the emotional undertones of a story. These movies are designed to cater to kids and teens and as such, they want their heroes to be strong powerful and not buckle under the weight of their emotions even in the worst of scenarios. I enjoy these movies as much as the next person, but when you shield the audience from any real emotion you strip away a very human element of the story in the process.
But Logan isn’t a superhero movie per se. Ironically, it’s a very human story about mutants, outcasts, and a dying breed of people. It’s a story of age and love and family and the ties that bind. And overall, it’s a story about fighting for something, or someone, you care about. Logan displays all these emotions in their rawest form; unshackled, unfiltered, and in a completely realistic way. I just hope other movies take notes and understand that you don’t have to be afraid of your heroes showing real emotions. If anything, it only allows us in the audience to relate to these people even more.
3. F-Bombs Done Right
Logan is littered with the word “f*ck”. And I say littered and not peppered because the word really is all over the place in this film… but it’s done surprisingly right. The problem with most R-rated movies is that they feel the need to jam the film with expletives and nudity and raunchy scenes just to create an edgy reputation for itself. Heck, we’ve had R-rated superhero movies way before Deadpool showed Hollywood how it’s done. Remember Punisher: War Zone? Movies like that don’t know how to walk the line between a good story that’s dark and violent, and a story that’s dark and bloody and violent for no real reason. Plus, when all your dialogue is muddled by the need to say “f*ck” every two seconds, it kinda ruins any credibility the characters have as people who can actually deliver proper lines.
The good thing about Logan is that while F-bombs are in no short supply, they’re used at the right time to deliver the most impact and to serve the character narrative. You’re supposed to use expletives to portray a character and their lack of care for the use of polite language… not to boast about your movie’s edginess. When used right, “f*ck” can really make a good scene great. If you need proof, go look up Wolverine’s cameo in X-Men: First Class. Seeing him in that bar had everyone in the cinema cheering… but Wolverine dropping the F-bomb is what made that scene an instant classic!
2. It Gets Straight To The Action
Logan takes place in 2029. Mutants have been driven to extinction with only a few survivors reduced to their low-key existence. X-Men are a thing of legend. This is what we know about where Logan sits in the X-Men timeline, and that’s all the movie itself really cares about. No time is wasted on too much exposition or weird flashback scenes or even lengthy prologues. We’re taken into the movie and the action starts right then and there. It’s a no nonsense, straightforward-as-f*ck movie that has some good action scenes and then some amazing action scenes! It’s clear that neither Hugh Jackman nor James Mangold wanted to waste time getting audiences caught up to speed on every single thing that led the world to where it is today. Since that isn’t the core of the movie, it just leaves the past to speculation and focuses on the present, which is such a relief in this new “everything is a shared universe” phase we’re in.
And don’t get me wrong, I LOVE that we see heroes showing up in movies that aren’t even theirs, but it’s nice to see a movie just exist within itself and not have to pay too much attention to all these other events surrounding it.
1. It’s Still An X-Men Movie
Logan is still an X-Men movie, plain and simple. It may not look like a regular X-Men movie, it may not work like a regular X-Men movie, but when all is said and done, it’s still a damn good installment in the X-Men franchise. While the hard ‘R’ sets it apart in terms of tone and action and how much can be said and done in Logan, it still has characters that are strongly tied to the previous films in the series. It may be a powerful, harrowing take on the future of mutankind, but it isn’t pretentious in trying to hide its linkage to all the other X-Men films in the series. In fact, it pretty much relies on the events of the previous films to create that sense of nostalgia and connection to these characters. Because like I said, although you could pretty much enjoy Logan by itself, if you haven’t seen the other X-Men films you may not be able to fully appreciate the emotional core of this film.
The greatest thing about this movie is that it’s an X-Men film that is proud of the legacy that they’ve created. And if anything, it’ll only elevate the franchise from here on out. Heck, it’s probably going to elevate the way superhero movies are made from here on out. That’s how powerful Logan is as a movie.
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