Monday, December 11, 2017
Logan (2017 film)
Based on the Marvel Comics character Wolverine created by Roy Thomas, Len Wein, and John Romita Jr. and a storyline by Mark Millar and Steve McNiven, Logan revolves around an aging mutant who deals with mortality as he cares for his aging mentor and the discovery of a young girl who has powers similar to his as they’re being chased by anti-mutant forces. Directed by James Mangold and screenplay by Mangold, Scott Frank, and Michael Green, the film is the third film of an unofficial trilogy of the Wolverine/Logan character that is played by Hugh Jackman with Patrick Stewart as the ailing Charles Xavier/Professor X. Also starring Richard E. Grant, Boyd Holbrook, Stephen Merchant, Dafne Keen, Eriq La Salle, Elise Neal, and Elizabeth Rodriguez. Logan is an enthralling yet heart-wrenching film from James Mangold.
It’s 2029 as mutants are nearly extinct with not a single one has been born in 25 years as the film revolves around an aging mutant who has given up trying to do good preferring to work as a limo driver in order to buy a yacht for himself and his ailing mentor Charles Xavier. During this time, Logan is being pursued by a nurse who has a young girl with her as she would later reveal to have powers similar to what Logan has in terms of its super-healing and using adamantium claws to attack. The girl is being pursued by a mysterious organization who want her where Logan and Xavier learn why as they decide to protect her and drive her to a mysterious sanctuary. The film’s screenplay is really more of a character study that relates to the Wolverine who has basically forsaken that name as he has reverted to his birth name in James Howlett. He’s also drinking to cope with the fact that he’s lost so many friends and has been unable to help forcing himself to just live by whatever job he can get to help himself and Charles with help from an albino mutant/tracker in Caliban (Stephen Merchant).
During a call for his limo service, Logan meets this nurse in Gabriella (Elizabeth Rodriguez) who offers him money to take her and this young girl named Laura (Dafne Keen) to North Dakota near the Canadian border. Yet, Logan has been encounter by a militant named Donald Pierce (Boyd Holbrook) to go after Laura where Logan and Xavier learn why Pierce wants Laura as it relates to a big revelation about a new generation of mutants who are being experimented on as an army with Laura and several others having escaped. Logan reluctantly takes Laura to North Dakota with the ailing Xavier who would have these monstrous seizures that would nearly freeze everything around him as his telepathic powers have become unstable due to his age. It makes Logan’s mission more difficult as he is also becoming ill due to the effects of the adamantium in his body that has made him age and his healing powers becoming much slower as well as ineffective. There is also this element of myth as it relates to Logan seeing that Laura has been carrying comic books that relate to his character as it drives him away from wanting to help her out. It’s that internal struggle that Logan faces in wanting to help but often faces obstacles where many others would be hurt or killed along the way.
James Mangold’s direction is definitely adventurous in terms of the setting but also quite confrontational as it relates to the violence as the film opens with a hungover Logan passed out on his limo being awoken by a gang trying to steal his hubcaps where he ends up killing them. Shot on various locations in New Orleans, various cities in New Mexico, and areas in Louisiana and Mississippi, the film does play into this mixture of the western, road movie, adventure, and drama as it relates to the humanity that Logan is trying to distance himself from. Mangold would use some wide shots for some of the vast locations Logan, Xavier, and Laura would go to as they’re being chased by Pierce and his army known as Reavers who capture remaining mutants they need. Though much of the film is set in various locations in the American Southwest including Mexico with some of it set in Las Vegas.
Mangold does maintain that sense of the western as it relates to the role that Logan is playing as well as one of the references Mangold uses in a film that Xavier and Laura watch. The film also has Mangold do something simple as it relates to the need of compassion and to help others when Logan, Xavier, and Laura meet a family in need of help as Logan does and they get shelter in return as it’s a brief moment of peace which is something Xavier needed as he had been filled with regrets for much of his life. The film’s third act is about Logan coping with something he never thought he would face which is mortality as he is aware of the fallacy of immortality having seen so many friends come and gone. Especially in moments that are quite brutal as Mangold doesn’t shy away from the fact that the film is very violent with lots of blood and deaths that are shocking to watch as it play into that struggle of humanity that Logan seems to lose faith on.
The third act which is set in the mountains where Laura, who had been largely silent, find these other mutant children who had been on the run is a moment where Logan sees a future that could be hopeful but doesn’t want to get close to it thinking he could undo it. The film’s climax isn’t just this showdown between Logan and these forces who want these children for their own reason but also everything Logan never wanted to be as well as to ensure this young girl that she never becomes what many evil forces wanted him to be. It’s a moment that is powerful but also heartbreaking as it conveys loss but also hope for a future generation. Overall, Mangold creates a visceral yet evocative film about a lost mutant who regains his purpose in life to help those in need of help including a young girl.
Cinematographer John Mathieson does excellent work with the film’s cinematography as it play into the sunny look of the American Southwest in its various locations as well as the usage of lights for some of the scenes set at night plus the abandoned compound where Logan, Caliban, and Xavier live in with its shades and such. Editors Michael McCusker and Dirk Westervelt do brilliant work with the editing as it captures the energy in the action while knowing when to slow down for the dramatic scenes without deviating too much into conventional editing styles. Production designer Francois Audouy, with set decorator Peter Lando and supervising art director Chris Farmer, does amazing work with the look of the abandoned factory/compound that Logan, Caliban, and Xavier live in as well as the farm home of the family Logan, Xavier, and Laura meet plus this mysterious lab for the people that Pierce works for. Costume designer Daniel Orlandi does nice work with the clothes from the military uniforms that Pierce and his team wears to the more casual look that Logan, Laura, and Xavier wears.
Special effects makeup artist Ozzy Alvarez does fantastic work with the look of Caliban as an albino whose weakness is sunlight as well as some of the gore in the characters that encounter Logan and Laura. Visual effects supervisors Richard Betts, Chas Jarrett, Doug Spilatro, and Chris Spry do incredible work with the visual effects in the way some of the action is presented as well as some set-dressing in some of the locations and the powers of some of the younger mutants plus a weapon created by the company Pierce works for. Sound designer Hamilton Sterling, along with sound editor Donald Sylvester, does superb work with the sound in creating sound effects for some of the weapons as well as the way some of the locations sound and the moments whenever Xavier is having a seizure. The film’s music by Marco Beltrami is wonderful for its orchestral score that play into the drama and action while music supervisor Ted Caplan provides a soundtrack that features elements of hip-hop, country, and blues with contributions from Jim Croce and Johnny Cash.
The casting by Lisa Beach, Sarah Katzman, and Priscilla Yeo is great as it feature some notable small roles and appearances from Elizabeth Rodriguez as a nurse named Gabriella who had been taking care of Laura, Eriq La Salle and Elise Neal as a farming couple who take in Logan, Laura, and Xavier, Quincy Fouse as the farming couple’s son, Dave Davis as a convenience store clerk, and in roles of young mutants that are Laura’s friends that include Doris Morgado, David Kallaway, Han Soto, Jayson Genao, Krzysztof Soszynski, and Alison Fernandez as kids who are seeking shelter and not be used as weapons. Richard E. Grant is superb as Zander Rice as a scientist who is the film’s main antagonist as a man that is hell-bent on creating something that would give mutants a chance to be used as weapons and soldiers that can do anything under anyone’s command. Boyd Holbrook is fantastic as Donald Pierce as a militant working for Rice who is eager to capture Laura where he sports an artificial arm and is ruthless in his pursuit to capture Laura. Stephen Merchant is excellent as the albino mutant tracker Caliban as someone who helps take care of Xavier for Logan while being someone who knows that Logan is ill as he doesn’t take shit from him.
Dafne Keen is phenomenal as Laura as a young girl who sports powers similar to Logan as she spends much of the film being silent and observant until she is threatened as she is a fierce killer that hasn’t experienced a lot of tender moments as there is this nice balance of innocence and rage in Keen who is just a joy to watch. Patrick Stewart is incredible as Charles Xavier/Professor X as a powerful telepath who is dealing with a growing illness as he’s unable to control his powers as he is filled with remorse and frustration where Stewart provides some funny moments in his banter with Logan as well as display a sense of grace over his regrets and need for peace. Finally, there’s Hugh Jackman in a tremendous performance as the titular character as a mutant who has little purpose in his life as he is a man filled with anguish and loss where he is eager to just end it all in the hope he can never see anyone killed because of him as it’s Jackman delivering a performance that is really heartbreaking to watch but also filled with a sense of honor into the fact that only he can be the Wolverine.
Logan is an outstanding film from James Mangold that feature spectacular performances from Hugh Jackman, Dafne Keen, and Patrick Stewart. Along with its supporting cast, high-octane action, studies on humanity and mortality, and gorgeous visuals. It’s a film that definitely raises the bar of what a superhero-action film can be as well as provide something that is very emotional where it gives the Wolverine character a fitting send-off. In the end, Logan is a magnificent film from James Mangold.
Related: Shane - 3:10 to Yuma (2007 film)
X-Men Films: X-Men - X2: X-Men United - X-Men 3: The Last Stand - X-Men Origins: Wolverine - X-Men: First Class - The Wolverine - X-Men: Days of Future Past - Deadpool - X-Men: Apocalypse - (New Mutants) - (Deadpool 2) – (X-Men: Dark Phoenix)
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