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Fan-Fucking-Tastic: The Logan Review

What is it?

A violent and sentimental story about an aged Wolverine.

Who’s it for?

Action and super-hero fans who are tired of seeing cities destroyed and those who enjoy watching dismemberment.

loganPosterLogan is James Mangold’s second time directing Hugh Jackman as Wolverine. It took him two outings to get comfortable with the character’s murderous tendencies. It took 20th Century Fox ten films before they would let Jackman say fuck or cut someone’s head off. The violence in this film is marvelous (pun intended). We are finally treated to a barbaric depiction of the character. While the movie has predictable plot developments, the careful balance of sentiment and violence more than makes up for it. This film feels different than most in the super-hero genre. It’s touching and thrilling.

From the opening, the movie hits it out of the park. It’s a fight scene that establishes the state of the character. You know who Logan is by the time those first few minutes are up. Mangold is a director who understands the kinetic nature of characterization. Action-heroes express themselves through action. This is not understood by most filmmakers. They understand character in a line of dialogue, but not a punch. Everyone talks different, but everybody fights the same (see the Matrix). Mangold gets it. It’s visceral and effective.

Wolverine is a violent character. On the page, he’s famous for saying, “I’m the best there is at what I do. And what I do isn’t very nice.” He’s not talking about saving people. This film uses that interpretation as a background. It gives Jackman a pathos to play, rather than just a snarl. His scenes with Patrick Stuart’s Professor X are wonderful. The script brings depth to each character and the actors’ work history gives added weight to the scenes. A poorer action film would be content with flash alone, but this one gives touching arcs to most of the characters. The performances are above average. Boyd Holbrook, in particular, stands out as a robot-handed heavy with enough scenery chewing verve to knock Jackman down a notch. Watch for this kid. He’s gonna work. A lot.

The film slows when the plot turns become obvious and events are repeated. It also uses some common comic book themes. A few of these ideas stick out awkwardly. Mangold seems less comfortable with the fantastical. He clearly favors what he thinks is “real”. If he were to match the comic book devices to over-the-top book production design it would play better. Marvel Studios does this. They make a billion dollars with every fantasy film they put out. But I digress, this “realistic” movie does something else to make up for it. It has an ending that unifies the violent adult aesthetic with a sense of childhood fantasy. It surprised me and it worked perfectly.

Now excuse me while I geek out.

Despite Jackman’s honorable portrayal, there is still something wrong with this take. Wolverine is five-feet, three-inches tall.

Yes, you read that right.

Hugh Jackman is six-foot, two-inches.  A properly sized Logan would be shorter than nearly every character on screen. Height changes every relationship. It’s part of a person. It’s even part of this character’s name. A wolverine is a ferocious animal the size of a badger that can fight off a bear. Logan didn’t get the name by being tall or nice. One day Marvel will get their character back. For now, Jackman gets it half right and he’s pretty damn good. So is Mangold’s movie.

Published inMovie Reviews

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© 2019 by Maximilian Gray
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