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Ben Rothstein, 20th Century Fox
MPAA ratings have sầu always been Wolverine’s arch-enemy. The character, played by Hugh Jackman over the course of 17 years và eight previous movies in Marvel Comics’ X-Men universe, is a mutant berserker whose most prominent weapons are razor-sharp metal claws, plus the feral drive necessary lớn use them. But the PG-13 ratings on the X-Men franchise installments have limited what directors were willing lớn show onscreen. Slashing weapons vị horrible damage lớn human bodies, but the movies have sầu always been coy about positioning the doomed mooks Wolverine takes out, concealing the wounds và dropping the bodies offscreen.

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That ends with Logan, the first R-rated Wolverine feature, and the first lớn openly, even lovingly focus on the character bisecting heads & punching through skulls. Inspired by Deadpool’s immense financial success, Fox authorized director James Mangold (who also helmed 2013’s The Wolverine) and his crew lớn go hard-R on Logan, reportedly the last film to lớn feature Jackman in the Wolverine role. In terms of graphic violence, profanity, & even a few stray seconds of female toplessness, they embrace the rating fully. It’s an intense, brutal film, full of sudden waves of bloody mayhem. But the real brutality isn’t in the severed limbs & heads, it’s in the film’s overwhelmingly dark emotional nội dung. This is by far the grimmest the X-Men series has ever been. There’s no dễ thương Stung Lee cameo, no Deadpool banter or “You’re a dick” jokes. Just exhaustion, resignation, & a steady march toward the over of this particular branch of the X-storyline.

But Mangold and his co-writers (The Wolverine and Minority Report screenwriter Scott Frank & American Gods writer/showrunner Michael Green) have sầu managed something that’s been frustratingly rare over the past decade-plus of grim-n-gritty supernhân vật takes: they earn the tone by developing a rich, even nuanced emotional landscape around their characters. And they show a rare commitment to the theme by taking their story to an uncompromising, even horrifying finale. Plenty of recent superanh hùng films dabble in grimness seemingly out of a feeling that it makes wish-fulfillment hero-fantasy more serious and adult. Logan tells an actual adult story about despair, decay, và death.

The film is phối in 2029, at a point where the X-Men appear to lớn be gone, và no new mutants have sầu been born in 25 years. (The film never explains the first point, though there are some subtle, discomfiting clues that have sầu nothing to vì chưng with Sentinels or supervillains.) Logan, a.k.a. Wolverine, is working as a limo driver under his original name, James Howlett. He’s aging badly: his unbreakable adamantium skeleton is slowly poisoning hyên ổn và his mutant healing abilities are failing, leaving hyên ổn heavily scarred và in chronic pain that he medicates with alcohol & anger. He mostly spends his time scrambling for money to lớn tư vấn his old teacher, Charles “Professor X” Xavier (Patriông xã Stewart, returning to lớn the role he’s played on và off since 2000), now a feeble, declining man in his 90s, unable khổng lồ fully control his body or his powers. Also playing house with them: Caliban (longtime Ricky Gervais partner Stephen Merchant), a pale, sun-sensitive mutant with an extraordinary ability to scent và trachồng other mutants. Like Logan và Charles Xavier, he’s worn và weary from traumas both clear in his situation, & unspecified in his past.

Ben Rothstein, 20th Century Fox Caliban makes it clear that their life of hiding in an abandoned, isolated refinery can’t last: Charles Xavier’s health is declining, và he’s dependent on illegally acquired medication khổng lồ hold back violent seizures that cause his powers to run amuông xã. Then Logan is drawn inkhổng lồ a conflict between an organization called Transiren và its experimental subject X-23, also known as Laura (Dafne Keen), who has a great giảm giá in comtháng with Logan. Soon the characters are on the run together with Transigen’s cyborg security honcho Donald Pierce (Boyd Holbrook) in pursuit, backed by Zander Rice (Richard Grant), the son of the man in charge of the original Wolverine project.

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Logan was loosely inspired by the Mark Millar comics series Old Man Logan, though Mangold’s team takes virtually nothing from Millar’s storyline except the idea of a grizzled old version of Logan navigating an ugly post-X-Men future. Other cinematic touchstones are much more apparent. Mangold uses clips & quotes khổng lồ draw a pointed comparison between Logan và the protagonist of Shane, the 1953 Alan Ladd Western about an aging gunfighter whose attempts lớn settle down with a family lead to lớn tragedy. The “tired man travels cross-country with an endangered child” plot mimics both Children Of Men (with all the despair, though without the bravura no-cut combats) & Midnight Special (with all the spooky-kid action, though without the Spielbergian wonder). A deeply creepy moment with Laura’s classmates closely recalls the 1960 horror classic Children Of The Damned. And Mangold has said in interviews that another touchstone was Darren Aronofsky & Robert Siegel’s 2008 drama The Wrestler, starring Mickey Rourke as an aging bear of a man trying lớn come lớn terms with his past as his broken-down body betrays hlặng.

But for Star Wars fans, another cđại bại parallel may come lớn mind. Logan is the Force Awakens of the X-Men franchise, a conscious play on audience nostalgia that passes the franchise torch to a younger generation while respecting & admiring the older one. Laura and her contemporaries pass around X-Men comics as if they were holy writ, và they regard Wolverine as a legkết thúc — not necessarily one too revered khổng lồ tease, but certainly a figure of fascination và fear. Late in the film, one kid stares at Logan while clutching a Wolverine action figure, dressed in the bright yellow Spandex suit the films have always mocked & dismissed. These kids are like Rey meeting Han Solo for the first time in The Force Awakens, & finding out that their legends are real — and that they’re sadly fallible, fragile, and human. Like that film, Logan embraces all the emotions a generation of filmgoers may have about Wolverine và the X-Men, but it also pointedly moves them offscreen, in favor of a new crop of potential heroes. (A Logan sequel hasn’t been green-lit yet, but Mangold has already said he’s interested in pursuing the story as a franchise.)

20th Century Fox That tender humanity gives Logan much more power than the bloody mayhem of the fight sequences. The heart of the film is the tortured relationship between Logan và Charles Xavier, who resent & need each other in equal measure. Their relationship is marked by profanity and insults, and by Logan’s roughness and resentment. But Jackman brings across a deep, sullen affection for the old man that undercuts all Logan’s gruff fury & refusal khổng lồ play nhân vật. Stewart, for his part, turns Professor X into lớn a heartbreaking figure, on the verge of disintegration from age và trauma, và prone khổng lồ sentimental obsession over Laura. He’s midway between a doddering grandfather and the leader he used to lớn be, & Mangold và his co-writers eke every bit of epic tragedy out of how far he’s fallen, from a world-shaking telepath lớn a querulous old man who has khổng lồ be bodily hauled inkhổng lồ a nhà wc stall, protesting all the way. He và Logan both hate their weakness and their reliance on each other, but they’re clearly family at this point, with all the mutual dependence and complicated history that entails.

And then Laura joins the family, và her relationship with both men is just as key to the movie. Keen plays Laura as wordlessly feral, a raging emang lại of Logan in his younger days. Her resentment and resistance to this miserable new world are a match for his, but her indomitability and ferocious energy go a long way toward keeping the film from wallowing in its own misery.

There’s a tremendous amount of pain onscreen at all times, and only some of it is deliberately inflicted by characters attacking each other. Most of it is in Laura’s well-justified fury about her past, Logan’s watery-eyed daily physical agony, Caliban’s ức chế và misery over an untenable situation, & Charles Xavier’s exhaustion và guilt. No one in this film wants lớn be where they are, and only Laura sees a clear path lớn a better future for herself — one that Logan thinks is a cheap fantasy. But her endearing link to Charles & her cthua trận parallels lớn Logan are a winning complication that shape the familiar backdrop of a reluctant-nhân vật story. “I know you are still good inside… you want to help us,” one character tells Logan early on. It’s a cheesy, familiar trope, drawn out into lớn a painful and visceral story.

While Deadpool’s success made Logan possible, the two movies take radically different tones with the same basic ideas about how family makes tragedy survivable. Deadpool finds cynical, bitter, và playful humor even in the most miserable situations. Logan, on the other hand, embraces its misery, positing a world where heroism & even kindness are always brutally punished, và yet personal connection is the only meaningful resource left lớn its characters. Of all the X-Men movies to lớn date, it’s the saddest và most serious, and the one that most challenges the familiar ideas of superanh hùng narratives. But its uniqueness & its complete devotion to lớn tragedy makes it feel lượt thích the most adult story this film series has ever told. The weight of graphic, grotesque violence hangs over the entire movie. But the daring emotional violence lingers longer, well after the lights go down on the final shot.

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