Logan (2017)

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You will know from get-go that this is the Wolverine movie you have been clamouring for when the first word out of Logan’s mouth is an F-bomb and he proceeds to slice and dice scumbags who are trying to jack his car.

I like what director James Mangold has done here. It’s great that I see risky turns being undertaken in a genre that is rife with just adhering to an over-used template of upping the amount of Defcon One city-levelling destruction. Here, everything is stripped down to an almost unplugged lo-fi setup. Titular characters are distilled to their bare essence and everything that they held firm are tested, their resolve magnified as they stand up for one last hurrah before the curtain call.

The year is 2029. The mutant population has shrunk significantly and the X-Men are no more. Logan, whose power to self-heal is dwindling, has surrendered himself to alcohol and now earns a living as a chauffeur. He takes care of the ailing old Professor X whom he keeps hidden away. Into this sad fray enters a young girl named Laura, who possesses an extraordinary fighting prowess and is in many ways like Wolverine. She is pursued by sinister figures working for a powerful corporation; this is because her DNA contains the secret that connects her to Logan, who is forced to ask himself if he can or even wants to put his remaining powers to good use one last time.

All through 17 years of Wolverine, the character never had a chance to unleash the level of violence that is synonymous with the claw-for-hands brutish hero. The first one is an embarrassing made for kids action flick, while the second one is a marked improvement albeit with just a sprinkling of blood. I think we have last year’s Deadpool to thank for when the studios finally realised an R-rated action superhero movie can haul in big bucks. Of all the Marvel characters, Wolverine practically cries out for the same treatment; he has been crying out for 17 years. It is just gratifying to finally see the character unchained and the balls-up action up to the bloody wall. Hugh Jackman finally gets a chance to flex his acting muscles with an incredible swan song to a fascinating character.

Though distinctively lo-fi in its setup, it is ultimately hi-fi in the way the story respects the characters. The theme here is family with Professor X as the grandfather and Logan as the father figure to a precarious child not in touch with the workings of the outside world. The story also takes a hard look at superheroes beset by everyday problems of putting food on the table and running away from their past. Physically, they are ageing and ailing, their abilities becoming liabilities in a world that find them irrelevant and only fit for the comic books. It is a brave way to tell a superhero story and I only hope this opens the door to more experiments.

Is Logan perfect? Not by a long shot. Some of the expositions have no guile and the actual story takes a while to get going. The middle act has some really inert moments and the pace also slacks quite a bit. So in a sense the risk taking turns are curtailed by some storytelling elements. Still, this is finally the Wolverine movie I have been waiting for.

Sweet adieu, Logan.

 

3.5 / 5

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