Directed by James Mangold
Taking nothing away from director James Mangold, imagine if Luc Besson had made “Leon: The Professional” as part of the Marvel universe, and you’ll have a pretty good idea of what you’re getting yourself in to with “Logan”. Which is another way of saying that if you’re expecting another typical “Wolverine” film, you will be sadly disappointed. Or, like me, you’ll be relieved. The frenetic, and all over the place, Samurai-laden craziness that is part and parcel previous “Wolverine” tomes is unrecognizable here…which makes for a much more satisfying filmatic experience.
While I hesitate to call this a quiet film (there is PLENTY of action) , it is certainly more internal than any of the X-Men franchise films. Which makes sense given that it acts as both origin story and terminus. But the grounding force is Hugh Jackman, who wears his Wolverine character like an old coat…owning it, rather than announcing it…a quintessential “show me, don’t tell me” performance. And, of course, being the consummate showman that he is, he knows exactly where the laughs are…the subtle eye-rolls, shrugs and grunts…as well as mining a paper thin script for import and tears. Added to that is a tremendously interesting performance from Patrick Stewart. Part dementia, part seer, his elderly version of Doctor Xavier is far more interesting than the character has been portrayed previously…by him or James McAvoy. Richard E. Grant, is, as usual, sufficient as the bad guy, but, alas, he doesn’t show up until the third act, so it’s a little thin in the “Black Hat” category – which is a failing. And in the Natalie Portman role, Dafne Keen is quite effective. But the surprise of the film is how brilliant Stephen Merchant is as Caliban. Hollywood keeps forgetting that the best comic actors are sometimes the best character actors, even when humor is not called for. Oh, and finally, Eriq LaSalle is in it. Yes, that Eriq LaSalle. According to IMDB he’s spent the last few years directing episodic television, but he’s still a fine actor, and he adds much needed depth and stake to the proceedings.
There are definite problems with the film. The entire third act seems implausible, not for the outrageous acts of mutant ability, but for exactly the opposite reasons. They seem to LACK the deft powers we’ve come to expect. And then there is the issue of wanton killing that comes with every Marvel film. The fact that the fella doing the killing in this film is more human than we’re used to, in no way diminishes the lack of emotional correlation to the acts…if anything, it makes it even more noticeable. And deplorable. And unnecessary.
But, when all is said and done, this is a perfectly good way to spend a couple hours at the multiplex if you’re a fan of the genre…and AFTER you’ve seen “Get Out”!
Written on 3/9/2017
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