Review: LOGAN, Superheroes Aren't Just for Kids Anymore

Hugh Jackman and Patrick Stewart star in James Mangold's moody action thriller LOGAN.

Managing Editor; Dallas, Texas, USA (@peteramartin)
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Review: LOGAN, Superheroes Aren't Just for Kids Anymore

Tough, tense, thoughtful, and terrific, Logan is truly the first superhero movie for adults, not for kids or arrested adolescents.

Granted, it's best for adults who have a tolerance for bloody, vicious violence. One of the characters claims the violence is only wielded against people who deserve it and that's true for the most part. Nearly every time a fight breaks out, though, it threatens to be a fight to the death, since the assailants want to lock up (or kill) every super-powered mutant in sight.

Set in the near future, the movie immediately establishes a dark tone for the story that follows. Director James Mangold does not waste any time in revealing that James Howlett (Hugh Jackman), the birth name of the mutant known as Wolverine, may have retired from his career as an action hero, yet he still retains fierce fighting skills. When pushed too far, not only do the claws come out, but also the animalistic fury that the character has become known for over the past 17 years on the big screen.

By night, he drives a limousine, identifying himself as Howlett; by day, he is Logan once again, his adopted name, and cares for his old friend Charles (Patrick Stewart) on a rural property in West Texas. Fellow mutant Caliban (Stephen Merchant) also stays there and helps care for Charles. All of them have seen better days, and all of them have seen their mutant powers decline and weaken as they have aged.

Whatever advantages the mutants may have enjoyed in the past have disappeared by the time the story begins. They have been nearly wiped off the face of the earth. Those who remain are hunted down and/or experimented upon, most notably by Zander Rice (Richard E. Grant), an evil surgeon.

In service of Rice, the despicable Donald Pierce (Boyd Holbrook) comes calling at Logan's hideout, in search of a little girl named Laura (Dafne Keen). Logan wants nothing to do with anyone, really; he's trying to save money to buy a boat and head out to sea (and presumed safety) with Charles. Laura's mother has already entreated him for help, a plea that Logan rejected outright.

For all his gruff exterior and pained expressions, Logan still has a heart. When he sees Laura, is he seeing young Rogue (Anna Paquin), a girl he helped in X-Men (2000)? Perhaps, though this movie never makes it explicit. In any event, Laura's mother offers him a big wad of badly-needed cash to help them, and Logan is, reluctantly, in.

Logan_impawards-ver6-350.jpgFrom there, the movie becomes a desperate chase thriller. Any time that Logan is standing still is a moment when he knows that attack is imminent, usually from an untold number of well-armed military men. His mission is simple: get Laura from West Texas to a location in the desolate, far north U.S., where safety is possible.

The road trip is aided and abetted by Charles. The trio form an odd sort of family, but what it really allows is for Jackman and Stewart to give performances that go beyond what they've done before in the X-Men series. Really, the success of the story depends on their chemistry as well as their ability to portray their familiar characters in unfamiliar circumstances.

It's not just the R-rated language, though it initially sounds almost shocking to hear their characters throwing around a plethora of f-words. It's not even the R-rated violence; after all, there is no glory in metallic claws poking through and tearing apart bodies; it's survival of the fittest.

More than that, it's the justifiable resignation that each of them feels and expresses in varying degrees. Actions have consequences, after all, and far more than the Man of Steel saying he's sorry for all the massive destruction he's caused, Jackman and Stewart are able to convey that anguish through their subtle facial expressions and body language.

It's not uncommon for people in their later years to feel genuine sorrow over the mistakes they've made and others they've hurt, either through their actions or inactions. It is uncommon to see those type of emotions in a superhero movie, and that is part of what makes Logan so effective.

The cleanly-choreographed action sequences are a definite bonus. Without relying overly much on the typical hack-and-slash editing that pollutes so many modern Hollywood action movies, the framing and staging makes allowance for the necessary intrusions of multiple stunt people while keeping things tight and comprehensible.

The on-point pacing helps tremendously. Film editors Michael McCusker and Dirk Westervelt not only knit together the action scenes effectively, they also maintain a good sense of momentum during the dramatic sequences, and enable the few comic moments room to breathe.

Logan is a captivating journey. It's almost a daytime noir that carries with it an air of inevitability, while simultaneously allowing little time for such thoughts. Yes, there are heroes in the movie, but there is also a strong, buffeting wind of discontent and disillusionment that is something quite distinct from what has come before in the genre.

The film opens wide in theaters throughout North America on Friday, March 3.

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Boyd HolbrookDafne KeenHugh JackmanJames MangoldLoganPatrick StewartWolverineX-Men

More about Logan

  • Count Erpoint

    Yeah, um. That doesn't sound like it's for adults. It sounds like an action movie with extra swear words and some sulking. That's clearly arrested adolescence.

  • Peter Martin

    Beyond swear words and sulking, there is a deeper characterization of the leads, and a greater thematic weight to the picture that, in my opinion, lifts it cleanly into the adult realm.

  • cjohnston

    Up-Vote. ~ even tho' I have yet to see it...
    ~
    ...that's actually why i'd be inclined to say, Deadpool and Watchmen are perhaps more (albeit VERY slightly) skewed towards a minutely "younger" age demographic; whereas Dredd and even High-Rise are of more of a "mature" disposition.. .due to the particular characters (and scripts) involved.....

  • Ben de Klos

    Nice review....makes me want to see it (am not too keen on most marvel and dc movies)

  • cjohnston

    nothing knew with this - but, they are Monumentally polarizing in size, shape, form,.. .....not to mention popularity..

  • ManateeAdvocate

    Wonderful to hear. Great piece. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

  • cjohnston

    hey..
    ~
    here's a milk-out-nose Hysterical recommendation for ya at some point if you haven't seen it.. .and if Your Interested...
    - - -
    War On Everyone. ....VERY similar vibes to Stretch and Kill Me Three Times this..

  • wabalicious

    Stretch was a lot of fun and Kill Me Three Times was unexpectedly good, i didn't think i'd like it.

  • cjohnston

    another one (or two) that slipped my mind ~ Black Out is bloody brilliant.
    *RocknRolla, Get the Gringo, and 2 Guns are also pretty cool imho..

  • ManateeAdvocate

    OH yisss. Totally my cuppa. I will be picking that one up as soon as I can.

    Funny you mentioned Stretch. I just watched that again for the umpteenth time last week. Such a fun flick.

    Be well.

  • cjohnston

    meeeee aginnn.........
    *he sings...*
    ~
    don't shoot me with a Clark Kent look; but, - last night I had a bit of a weird deja vu of sorts about an EXCELLANT comedy (inde thru-and-thru) that I had seen a couple of times and (that I) then had subsequently Completely and Utterly forgot about -- til last night.
    ---
    BLACK OUT.
    *I CAN-NOT remember if I've recommended this one to ya in the past.
    It has ALL SORTS of similarities to the likes of Stretch, Kill Me Three Times, and War On Everyone...
    .....this one is WAYY under-the-radar....... played at fantastic fest several years ago if I'm not mistaken; and, Indeed ~ it's Fantastic.
    ..here's an imdb for it.
    http://www.imdb.com/title/t...

  • ManateeAdvocate

    Nice. I'll check it out. Thanks.

  • Vassago Gamori

    My favorite part was when Logan the Shogun clawfukt Hulk Hogan and Seth Rogan.

  • cjohnston

    ok. .......ONE - measly; ..PUNY, ...Trivial - ....perhaps annoying "nit" 2 pick here..
    ...With all due Respect ~ this typist is of opinion that it is Dredd that "marked" that territory (quite distinctly, too) first, -- as first superhero film (thru-and-thru) for the adult demographic..
    - - -
    *I almost feel a bit sacrilegious speaking that, ..but *WINK*; that's just the facts......
    ~
    CAN'T wait for this flick though - and STELLAR Review either way..

  • wabalicious

    Blade.

  • cjohnston

    feel free to eject; if you grow tired with all of this.. (this IS - all in Goode Intention, though). - Are you speaking of Vampire Blade (and)/or Deckard here .??

  • wabalicious

    Yeah, the vampire.

  • cjohnston

    hm.
    ~
    (Apologies for my brief fleeting salty language here..) --- I'm not wanting 2 be a 'dick' about this; With this in mind... ..in you're estimation - what are your thoughts on Captain Kronos: Vampire Hunter.???

  • wabalicious

    I've never actually seen Captain Kronos: Vampire Hunter, any good?

  • cjohnston

    I'd say it's Damnably *apologies* Impressive..
    ...it's one of the best vampire themed, let alone "monster" themed -- films that I have ever seen..
    ---
    just for kicks, ~ the handful of other spooky favs. of mine are: Let Me In, Let the Right One In, Under the Skin, Open Grave, Spring, The Lure, A Cure For Wellness, Enemy, The Autopsy of Jane Doe, and Deep Rising.. *Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter and Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters also make that particular list - but those two ARE of more of a comedic nature...

  • wabalicious

    I'm not a huge horror fan, although i do love some of the classics a lot. Deep Rising was great though, and i enjoyed Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter a lot more than i expected to. The guy who played him reminded me weirdly of Liam Neeson, only about 35 years younger.

  • Joerg Nezmeskal

    Dredd was a fine Little Action flic with a Comicbook Background but without any much depth Story-or characterwise. Logan seem to have both, I guess that´s the Point of the reviewer calling this the first superhero movie for adults. And BTW Dredd is not a superhero to begin with.

  • cjohnston

    Fair and fine - ....with some of that......
    -
    ..However; I dunno; color me strange but it (might) all depend on what one defines as superhero.. .in the first place. And I was just working with a "strict" ridged definition of superhero to begin with..
    ----- ....Why in your opinion - is this character not of the superhero mythology.???
    - - -
    Again - not wishing to be a "Richard" here at all with you ----- there's just a couple 'ah points I fundamentally disagree with..
    ..........In my opinion - within ANY action-fused film/script/ or story; one can't get much more multifaceted, talented, and sensitive to the smallest minutia of character details and eccentricities than what is portrayed with Urban's Dredd and Thirlby's Anderson.. ....they're both (quite literally) textural works of art.

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