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Logan: A Thought-Provoking, Conflicting Film Experience

March 27, 2017 Film Reviews

by Sarah Wickenhauser, The Filmstrip editor and graphic design student. (Published in The Filmstrip, March 2017 edition.)

 

Because of the explosion of popularity superhero films have seen in popular culture, it has become increasingly common for superhero films to “break the boundaries” of their genre in an attempt to stay fresh and relevant. “Deadpool” (2016) was an irreverent comedy; “Doctor Strange” (2016) was a mystical fantasy adventure; “Guardians of the Galaxy” (2014) was a sci-fi space story; so what is “Logan”, 2017’s superhero film from Marvel and 20th Century Fox?

Since “Logan” marks the end of Hugh Jackman’s contract for his recurring role as the character Logan/Wolverine, and this film is his character’s farewell to the franchise, the plot and tone of the story definitely reflects this fact. The film is set in the future (2029) and depicts Logan as aged, haggard, and continually weakening. All the other mutants have been killed except for Caliban (played by Stephen Merchant) and Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart), who live in hiding in an abandoned smelting plant in Mexico. Logan spends his days caring for Xavier, who is suffering from an unspecified neurodegenerative disease that causes him to have dangerous telepathic seizures. While smuggling drugs to help keep Xavier’s seizures under control, Logan meets a woman who begs him to escort her and a young girl named Laura to a safe haven in North Dakota. Logan at first refuses; but when the woman is murdered by goons for the biotechnology corporation Transigen, and the girl Laura is revealed to be a mutant with the same powers as the Wolverine, Logan and Xavier begin their journey with Laura to the mutant safe haven in North Dakota.

The film earns its R rating from being filled with violence and language, but between the hard-core action scenes is the tender story of a weary old man who discovers one last thing to protect and live for: his new progeny Laura. The entire story is tinged with a bittersweet tone of sentiment, especially for fans of the X-Men series and Hugh Jackman’s character Wolverine. The film’s juxtaposition of violence and tenderness impressed many critics; one reviewer, Chris Nashawaty of Entertainment Weekly, said the film was “both the most violent film in the series and the most sentimental one; When it’s not showering you in blood, it’s trying to make you spill tears.”

As a casual fan of the X-Men series and superhero movies in general, I have mixed feelings about this film. Though I agree with the majority of the positive critical consensus, I feel like the film was missing the element that made superhero films popular in the first place: the fact that the world of superhero stories didn’t have to be dark, grim, and realistic. I know realism has a place in cinema, but the world is already dark enough in reality without the world of entertainment having to be dark as well. The tone in “Logan” wasn’t entirely devoid of hope, but I’m just not a fan of stories that are so depressing that they make you walk out of the theater feeling empty and despondent.

Of course, the film’s R-rated content makes the movie confusing as well, because in my mind, the kind of people who enjoy sitting through hours of gore and f-words are not same as the kind of people who enjoy a sentimental, tear-jerker story about family, old age, and death. Especially since the movie is apparently attempting to also appeal to the Deadpool crowd, since a dark-humored Deadpool short film plays before Logan starts.

In short, “Logan” is a thought-provoking film with fascinatingly conflicting elements…but I can only recommend it to viewers who are already used to R-rated content, because it is not exactly wholesome entertainment.

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