Like many of you, I grew tired of the repeated releases from the Marvel and DC Comics – inspired worlds. Not that every rehash was bad. I rather enjoyed the first Captain America and the first Avengers. Beyond that, though, the films all became a CGI-enhanced blur with the low-point coming in the form of 2016’s Deadpool – a tepid, forced joke-within-a-joke mock-up that was far too sophomoric to be enjoyed beyond the occasional chuckle.
Not so with this year’s Logan. It is a film that links to the best Western narratives of cinema-past, and offers an engaging, thrilling, and far more balanced approach to the world of superheros and villains than its far too-many contemporaries.
Those who watch it, at least those familiar with the American Western genre, might sense a similarity to Clint Eastwood’s lone rider films, or his more recent and Oscar-winning Unforgiven. (“We all have it coming, kid.”) So too is there a link to the masterpiece High Noon, and perhaps to an even greater extent, Shane and the John Ford 1939 classic, Stagecoach. (The influence of both Eastwood and Wayne on Jackman’s Wolverine/Logan is undeniable IMO.)
There is considerable bloodshed in what has been touted as Jackman’s final portrayal of the Marvel character. The fight scenes are very real, very gory, and very well done and earned the film its rightful R rating. The violence, unlike lesser films, actually enhances the story. It is there to serve a purpose, to further flesh out the character of Logan and the young girl he seeks to protect. That desire to protect is certainly nothing new to films of this nature, but it is yet another layer to a comic character that is far more nuanced and complicated than the earlier films suggested.
Logan is a brooding, grunting, growling, thing – but he hurts. Literally.
The supporting cast is excellent, most notably, Patrick Stewart’s portrayal of a physically feeble and mentally failing Charles Xavier. The bond between the two men is palpable. Xavier’s most difficult student has become the son he never had. The film doesn’t make their dynamic overly sentimental, but rather strikes a near-perfect balance of love, respect, annoyance, and dry humor. Dafne Keen’s portrayal of X-23/Laura is an unexpected surprise as well, and certainly strong enough to suggest future installments.
At nearly two-and-a-half hours, it might push the attention-spans of some, but I found the length nearly perfect in the telling of this particular tale.
D.W. Ulsterman is a bestselling, award-winning author and socio-political commentator.
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