Because this film comes from Hollywood, and because former indie director James Mangold is a sell-out, there’s some hypocritical handwringing about murder and violence in this franchise-ending (?) tale of redemption and death, with even more invitations and opportunities for us to look in awe upon all the believable gore, slashings, stabbings, and decapitations, and cheer on the war cries of a beast-like group of murderous but multi-culti, children.
Thanks to the detailed and committed character work from, and rapport between, Stewart and Jackman, however, it is a bit more than that, but not much, and it only becomes more than that when they just talk. But that does not happen for long, and it stops altogether when Professor X gets a claw in the chest from Logan’s clone. Death of the father, and all that.
I enjoyed most of it, however, and went along for the well-paced ride, happy to indulge the inner, tortured, hounded, and misunderstood outsider within me, just as the X-Men comics and a couple of the movies have always intended.
Or at least I enjoyed it until the kitsch at the end, in which Mangold’s apparent touchstone for the whole project, the schmaltzy and morally jejune folk-Western Shane, makes a second appearance in the form of a full quote from a bilingual, technologically engineered killer-kid at a gravesite. If the quotes had come fromn Rio Bravo, we might be getting somewhere.
Logan is probably the best superhero movie based on a Marvel comic, but when I watch it again, Into the Spider-Verse might edge it out. I’m also pretty fond of Spider-Man: Homecoming. Logan is without a doubt the best X-Men movie, although that’s not saying much.
On this second watch, I enjoyed even more the touching rapport between Logan and Charles, near the top of both actors’ movie performances, for what that’s worth.
But Mangold doesn’t take his violence seriously enough. The Shane quotes —ugh— make that clear. Yeah, I loved the movie as a kid, too, but then I grew up and discovered Hawks, Ford, Mann, Boetticher, and, hell, Peckinpah. Mangold apparently did not?
But the Western references are all wrong. What’s really depicted gruesomely is this: War. Revolution. Torture, human experimentation, minority persecution, and atrocities on both sides. And Mangold quotes Shane? Twice? That’s not only a serious artistic failing but a moral one, as well, which is why every penetration of a human body by Logan’s claws is at least in medium closeup. Don’t be ashamed of soaking it all in, folks, there’s more where that came from.
But it’s also why the last 5 minutes or so of the film, including Logan’s rather pointless death, feel so shallow and bathetic. It’s the sort of ending one gets from someone who doesn’t know shit about war (the majority of us) and hasn’t deigned to think about it (something a great artist is supposed to do if it’s his subject). So we’re treated like gullible recruits.
Logan is well-calibrated for the most part, but often for the wrong reasons.