Saturday, February 17, 2018

Movie with Abe: Logan

Directed by James Mangold
Released March 3, 2017

It feels right now like superhero movies are going to be popular forever. The trend lately has been to amass as many characters as possible to come together to star in the same epic film, with “Justice League” and “The Avengers” serving as the flagships of DC and Marvel, the two competing comic book brands dominating the box office this, last, and likely next decade. While a number of individual characters have been treated to reboots and standalone installments, there’s one member of the X-Men who has been played by the same actor in eight films and now graduates to an R-rated story that shows who he truly is.

In the year 2029, Logan (Hugh Jackman) is a shell of what he once was, working as a limo driver and spending his days keeping a relatively low profile. His lone associates are Caliban (Stephen Merchant) and an elderly Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart), whose powers now lead to immensely powerful seizures capable of tremendous collateral damage. With no new mutants being born and the X-Men a distant memory, Logan is unwillingly swept back up into being a hero when he must protect Laura (Dafne Keen), who has similar powers to him and has been created from his DNA, from Donald Pierce (Boyd Holbrook) and Zander Rice (Richard E. Grant), who run Transigen, a company that has been experimenting with powers to turn children into weapons.

This film, the first in the solo Wolverine series that this reviewer has seen, represents a considerable departure from most of what Marvel puts out. Logan’s powers have always been relatively violent, but not nearly as much so as in this context, which features both Logan and Laura stabbing people in brutal ways and facing similarly graphic threats from those who seek to take them out. The R rating also includes language not typically used in superhero movies, enabling this film to feel considerably darker and more effective as a result, employed for dramatic purposes rather than those utilized in another R-rated X-Men offshoot, “Deadpool.”

Jackman, who also this year starred in a completely different kind of film, “The Greatest Showman,” demonstrates in what is supposed to be the last time he plays this character that he’s exactly the right man for it, making Logan believably gruff and weathered. Portraying a superhero in a comic book film demands a specific type of acting, and Jackman has it down. Stewart, who earned a number of awards nominations for his performance, is also terrific, turning Xavier into a pained and far less kindly old man. The rest of the cast contributes well, though this is a film primarily driven by its action. Its Oscar nomination for Best Adapted Screenplay represents a first for the genre, and it’s a well-earned honor that shows most of all how a character typically appropriate for most ages has been impressively transformed into the star of a mature and effective superhero film for adults.


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