Rated R for strong brutal violence and language throughout, and brief nudity
Screenplay by Scott Frank, James Mangold and Michael Green, story by James Mangold and David James Kelley, based on characters created by John Romita Sr., Roy Thomas, Len Wein, Herb Trimpe, Craig Kyle and Christopher Yost
Directed by James Mangold
Starring Hugh Jackman, Patrick Stewart, Dafne Keen, Boyd Holbrook, Stephen Merchant, Elizabeth Rodriguez, Richard E. Grant, Eriq La Salle and more
Grade: One and a half stars
I wish “soul-suckingly bleak” was classified as an official movie genre.
If that day ever happens, “Logan” will definitely be cited as one of the clearest examples of the genre. The movie, which marks Hugh Jackman’s final onscreen outing as the character, is an unrelenting crush of hopelessness and bleakness that makes “Mad Max: Fury Road” look like a comedy. That almost-total absence of hope punishes audiences that try to emotionally engage with the movie, leaving it a well-made intellectual exercise reminiscent of graphic novels at their darkest.
The year is 2029, and most of the X-men and mutants in general are gone for reasons the movie slowly but painfully hints at. Logan is working as a chauffer in Texas and living in an abandoned factory in Mexico with Professor X, who is suffering from dementia and spends his days drugged so he doesn’t accidentally hurt any more people with his telepathy. Oh, and Logan is slowly being poisoned by the adamantium in his skeleton, and carries around a bullet made of the same material so he can finally commit suicide when it all gets to be too much for him.
This is all just the set-up. Then we get to the child experimentation and murder.
There are a few moments of relative lightness in the movie, but the majority of them are shown in the trailers. Dafne Keen supplies most of these as Laura, the young mutant girl who just happens to have Logan’s claws, fighting ability, and general anger at the world. Her blunt silence is endearing, and interesting enough I wish we were allowed more of her thoughts, but there’s only so much she can do.
Jackman and Stewart’s performances are also excellent, but nearly every word and gesture is focused solely on breaking the audience’s hearts even further. The movie walks both of their characters through essentially their worst nightmares, and both actors communicate every inch of their characters’ hopelessness, fear and pain with knife-sharp clarity. If you watch the movie on silent, you would still know exactly how much both characters are suffering.
The one good use of the R-rating is the movie’s fight scenes, which are as brutal as you would expect for characters who walk around with sets of impossibly sharp knives on their fists. Here Keen is also remarkably watchable, though that may just be the novelty of seeing a small girl completely decimate opponents twice and even three times her size.
Most of the reviews you see for this movie will be full of praise, because this is exactly the kind of movie that most critics love. It’s a unique, “refreshing” take on the superhero genre, full of “realness” and “grit.” The script is well-constructed, designed for maximum pain, and the actors get to show off several different shades of their characters’ hopelessness and despair. Several minor characters die pointlessly, proof that nothing is being “sugar-coated.” If you’re a movie critic, or think like a movie critic, you should probably go see “Logan.”
But if you’ve read this far in the review and are absolutely horrified, then I urge you to skip this one. Real life is depressing enough.