Movie Re-Review: 'Logan'
On second thought, maybe I actually liked Logan.
When I first saw Logan, the latest spin-off of the X-Men franchise, I was not impressed. There was so much hype, so much discussion about how the R-Rating would finally allow Wolverine to be Wolverine. Then I saw the film and found it to be as conventional as any of the other X-Men movies with a little bit of gore tacked on for fan service. So what’s changed for me since March of this year? Why was watching Logan at home on a DVD screener from the studio so different from watching the film in theaters earlier this year?
Logan once again stars Hugh Jackman in the role of Logan aka Wolverine. When we see him, he’s sleeping in the back of a fancy stretch limousine and gang members are trying to steal the tires. Logan tries to convince the men to leave peacefully but they prefer to attack him. In defense of his expensive vehicle, and with little care for his own well-being, Logan launches into a grisly battle and leaves several of the thieves’ dead.
From there we travel across the border to Mexico where Logan is hiding the debilitated Professor X (Patrick Stewart). With the help of another mutant named Kaliban (Stephen Merchant), Logan cares for Professor X by doping him up with medication to keep his powers neutralized and to keep him from remembering that he was responsible for killing a lot of people when he suffered a seizure several years ago that led the government to consider his mind a weapon of mass destruction.
The tiny, insular world that Logan has built for himself is upended when he meets Gabriella (Elizabeth Rodriguez). Gabriella wants to hire Logan to drive her and a girl she claims is her daughter, Laura, (Daphne Keen) to North Dakota where a group of fellow mutants is expected to help them cross the border to a place they call Eden. Unfortunately, Gabriella is being hunted by Donald Pierce (Boyd Holbrook), the low-life leader of a group called The Reavers. It’s Pierce’s job to eradicate mutants that won’t fight for the evil Transigen corporation.
The plotting of Logan is simple and straight forward and I failed to give the film credit for that simplicity in my original review. Keeping things clear and easy to follow in the complex and desperately crowded super-hero genre is surely something to be praised. Logan has a clear and simple goal, get out of the country alive at all cost and if unable, make sure you die, and take as many Reavers with you as possible. The motivation is clear and all the action is linked strongly to that motivation.
In my original review, I also failed to give proper credit to young Daphne Keen. As I watched Logan the first time I found myself put off by the idea of a child being put into such a grim and violent situation. I’m still bothered by that idea but that doesn’t mean that Keen isn’t a tremendous young actress. Her performance captures beautifully the conflicted and struggling emotions of a child in an extraordinary and terrifying circumstance. She hasn’t mastered her mutation and yet she’s forced to make use of it often and with violent consequence. Keen captures the conflicting and terrifying emotions brilliantly.
Much of my initial beef with Logan came down to how I was unimpressed with the film’s violence. I will admit, I found that the use of the R-Rating in the film’s marketing campaign was a significant turn off to me. My preference is for story and character and to hear a studio marketing team gleefully reveling in having the ability to slice into skulls and show more blood grossed me out. I resented the way the film was marketed and I held that against the movie.
Watching Logan again I found that the violence is much more restrained than I remembered the first time. The violence in fact, is rather conventional aside from the addition of a good deal more blood than any previous X-Men movie. The most talked about scene in the movie is Logan’s run through the forest near the end of the film and instead of watching for the blood and guts as I did the first time, I could see the dynamic staging of the violence this time. Director James Mangold and Cinematographer John Mathieson craft a remarkable scene that, for the first time in the Hugh Jackman Wolverine series feels like a Wolverine action scene.
Do I now love Logan upon my second viewing? No, I can still find fault with the film, but I do admire it more. I am of a mind to actually recommend the film now which I did not do the first time I reviewed it in March. Getting away from the hype and the marketing and all of the mercenary stuff that comes from a blockbuster movie release, I was actually able to watch Logan as a movie rather than as yet another superhero product and indeed I have come away far more impressed with Logan after this rewatch.