By Ryan Keating-Lambert
A strong start that does somewhat ‘reinvent’ the standard superhero genre film, but then falls victim to silly Hollywood clichés. We were promised that it’d be different, gritty and more human, and it is …for the first half.
Set in 2029, in a world where mutants are dying out, the third Wolverine film directed by James Mangold sees Logan (Hugh Jackman) on the run from a sinister group of scientist bullies intent on capturing young mutant girl Laura (Dafne Keen). Professor X (Patrick Stewart), at the ripe age of 91, comes along for the ride.
Logan starts off with a western / road movie setup. Logan is wrinkled, drug-addicted, and full of general abuse towards everyone, including the senile Xavier, played brilliantly by Patrick Stewart. There’s a whole lot more swearing from the get-go, plus a whole lot more violence – meaning there are a lot of graphic shots of claws to the head, by both Logan and Laura.
Cleverly, this film has based itself off classic Western film Shane, to which they reference in the movie. In some ways, especially in the first act, Logan has a lot in common with the gunslinger. Wandering the desert, trying to be a mentor, protector, a father-like figure, anything but the guttural beast that is Wolverine.
The sequences in the desert are stunning, as are the action sequences, especially those involving young Laura. Being the not too distant future, Mangold has placed a few hints as to the fate of the X-Men and where the world has gone in general, but never overwhelms us with unnecessary details. This is, after all, a character study of our three heroes. There were even some moments that reminded me of that beautiful connection between John Connor and the Terminator in Terminator 2: Judgement Day.
Marco Beltrami also layers a deep and sometimes booming minimalist soundtrack over the whole thing that gives it a raw Johan Johansson-ish edge to it. Something not generally heard in a superhero film. But to me, that soundtrack was the only original part of the reinvention. It was all a bit forced.
The sometimes over-the-top violence and excessive swearing hints at a film that tries too hard to reinvent itself. It was a little contrived. Ok, Mr Mangold.. we get it. It’s an R-rated flick, but don’t get carried away. Some of those scenes were not justified at all.
And then there’s the family farm scene. It was more than obvious that something major was about to happen, but I did not expect the plot to go in such a ridiculous direction from that point on. You can almost pinpoint the exact moment when Fox stepped in and said, ‘ok guys, we can move some stuff around here just in case we want to make some sequels and spin-offs and anything else to make a buck’. It was almost like the film suddenly became Resident Evil.
If it wasn’t for that epic change in plot and dynamic, I’d give Logan 4 stars. Dafne Keen was superb as Laura, and I’m really looking forward to seeing more of her in the future.
It’s better than the other two Wolverine movies, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s a good movie.
Feature photo: Fox