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Logan - Cinemaholic Movie Reviews
one person's obsessive addiction to film
Directing: B+
Acting: B
Writing: B+
Cinematography: B
Editing: B+
Special Effects: B+

I won't say that Logan is perfect, but I will say that, astonishingly for the tenth movie to feature X-men characters, it might very well be the best of the lot of them. It certainly has fresher ideas in it than any of them since what was previously the best in the franchise, X-Men 2, in 2003.

And there is a host of reasons for this, not least of which is its setting in the "near future" -- 2029, to be exact -- and a slowly poisoned Wolverine (aka Logan), for once making Hugh Jackman's aged appearance make sense. The first of all these movies came out seventeen years ago, and all this time we're supposed to believe Wolverine's aging process has been stopped by his "mutation," which is the quick healing of any wounds. Except, of course, that concept is fiction, and Jackman himself, vein-poppingly buff as he remains, continues to age.

Logan also benefits from two other key elements. The first is that, although it's set in the future, the script takes no pains to create a "futuristic" world of eye-popping technology. The story here goes the other direction, keeping things at a micro level, and keeping the settings mostly in desert and forest locations. Even all the vehicles people drive are beat up old trucks or, in the case of Logan himself at the beginning of the movie, the limousine he drives as his current job. The most urban setting we get in this movie is a brief period in a casino in Oklahoma City (giving Hara's some pretty sigificant product placement). The second key element is the franchise's unprecedented R rating: this is easily the most graphic film of the series, but it's never violent just for the sake of violence itself. In consistently well-choreographed sequences, we see events turn in a way that actually makes sense for the world being presented.

And there aren't even many mutants left anymore. None of the other major X-Men are mentioned by name, which is fine; we do get to spend some time with Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart, this time aged as opposed to digitally made younger, as in X-Men: The Last Stand, unfortunately one of the worst in the series). He's suffering a degenerative brain disease which has caused him to be classified as a "weapon of mass destruction," and Logan has him in hiding along the Mexican border.

This scenario allows for some surprising depth to the story, more so than any of the other X-Men movies, which tend to be crammed with too many characters and too much story. Logan is much simpler, and is all the better for it: with the discovery of a mutant child named Laura (excellent newcomer Dafne Keen), who has the same kinds of adamantium-clad claws as Logan himself, they wind up on the run from authorities who are hell bent on capturing her. Laura has dreams of a safe haven north of the Canadian border, which Logan does not believe exists, but finds himself helping her anyway.

This story, co-written by director James Mangold, is arguably too simple, but it allows the characters to breathe, to develop in ways they don't usually get a chance to in these movies. I'm relieved this movie makes zero effort to include other superheroes from the "Marvel universe," which always bloats the proceedings unnecessarily. Logan exists independently and, functionally speaking, presents a world in which the likes of Iron Man or Spider-Man or Captain America don't even exist. And thank God for that. It makes this one of the few modern comic book movies that are actually still worth watching.

There isn't even an excess of special effects -- another breath of fresh air. These days, Logan practically qualifies as an anti-superhero movie that happens to feature superheroes. Now, there is a back story involving genetically engineered child mutants in a world in which mutants have stopped being born, and this becomes the most contrived part of the movie. It also nearly telegraphs the notion of a new set of sequels, starring these younger, new characters. How many fucking X-Men movies does the world need?

As always, it depends on who is making them and how well written they are. I would never have said the world needed the equivalent of X-Men X, but then Logan came along, and makes the strongest case one of these movies has made in fourteen years of justifying its own existence. It still features plenty of action sequences and special effects; it just conscientiously avoids over-using them. It also provides an almost palpable sense of closure that none of the previous films managed to offer. In the end, Logan is still just another superhero/comic book movie, but at least for once there's no over-the-top villains threatening destroy the entire planet (or the universe!), and to say it exceeds expectations would be an understatement.

Dafne Keen and Hugh Jackman breathe new life into an ailing franchise with LOGAN.

Overall: B+
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