Directed and co-written by James Mangold (The Wolverine, 3:10 to Yuma, Walk the Line) with writers Scott Frank (A Walk Among the Tombstones, The Wolverine, Minority Report) and Michael Green (Green Lantern, Heroes TV series), Logan is the 10th instalment in 20th Century Fox's X-Men film franchise and the third and apparently final Wolverine standalone film. Set in the near future where mutants are close to extinction, the story follows the aging and weary titular protagonist (Hugh Jackman) who's now hustling as a Uber-like driver to make a living and to care for the 90-something-year-old senile Professor Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart) with the assistance of Caliban (Stephen Merchant).
Danger comes knocking when they're left with a seemingly mute but shockingly strong and wild little mutant girl named Laura / X-23 (Dafne Keen) who's being hunted by an army of enhanced soldiers from the lab she escaped from. Laura is revealed to be Logan's clone who also has claws and healing power, but without help, she can be captured and killed by her creators. Logan is forced to play the hero again — one last time — despite gradually not being able to heal like he used to. Though the film is inspired by the comic book Old Man Logan (2008), its plot is largely different from the comic. Fox does not have the rights to most of the other Marvel characters who're heavily involved in the comic's story. However, that doesn't matter because the film is great with its own plot.
Thanks to the box office and critical success of Deadpool (2016), it showed studios that R-rated superhero feature films could still make a lot of money and also, perhaps due to that, it paved way for Fox to decide for Logan to be made R-rated as well — and it's the probably the best decision they've made recently for their superhero projects. Logan is full of graphic violence and vulgarities. We can actually see Wolverine's adamantium claws going through human villains' heads upclose in detail with plenty of blood splashing out. And hear both Logan and Xavier saying 'fuck' out loud plenty of times. All these essential R-rated factors contribute greatly to the film's darker, grittier, grimmer, Western-like tone that's probably never been done before in the modern superhero genre. It feels more grounded and realistic than the usual.
Although most of its long but well-paced 2-hour-17-minute running time takes place in the desserts, forests and mountains around the Mexican borders, the film is a thoroughly fun and emotional ride, packed with cool brutal action sequences, heartfelt drama and some funny moments too. Despite the lack of longer wide-angle takes and some incorporation of shaky cam technique for the action sequences, the fight scenes are highly entertaining and engaging as well. People actually suffer or/and die in the film, including the good guys — which gives the audience the constant feeling that none of these well developed protagonists are safe from being killed off. Gripping stuff!
Logan's story is somewhat unique as well for a superhero flick as its plot doesn't revolve around saving the world, rescuing a damsel in distress, forming a team, stopping an alien invasion or conflict/versus. Instead, its more about these mutants saving their own asses with themes of humanity, redemption and true heroism — seriously, it feels more heroic than any of the X-Men films! Oscar-worthy performances by Jackman, Stewart and Keen. They portrayed their characters with the required depth, agony and emotions. I really felt for them, including Merchant's character. At the end of the film, I was surprisingly close to shedding tears while my girlfriend wiped hers into my jacket. The only problems the film has are a couple of minor flaws, plot holes, underdeveloped stock villains and the similarities between the characters Laura / X-23 and Stranger Things' Eleven. In spite of that, Logan has certainly set a new, refreshing high bar for superhero standalone sequels.
Malaysian censorship: Apparently some nudity is cut (I didn't even notice any jumps) but most of the action scenes are not censored. Only some closeup, graphic head-clawing sequences are noticeably zoomed and panned away from screen. Very inconsistent censoring, which is sort of good for us anyway. Profanities are left uncut and not even muted (at the press screening). Fuck yeah!
Second opinion: My girlfriend said it's nice and she liked it a lot. I believe this was the first time I saw her crying while watching a superhero flick.
Verdict: Definitely the best Wolverine standalone and certainly within the top 3 of the X-Men film franchise. Probably Oscar-worthy too.
Rating: 4.5 / 5
Based on: "Old Man Logan" comic book by Mark Millar and Steve McNiven
Genre: Superhero, drama, action, sci-fi
Running Time: 137 minutes
Director: James Mangold
Screenwriter: Scott Frank, James Mangold, Michael Green
Cast: Hugh Jackman, Patrick Stewart, Richard E. Grant, Boyd Holbrook, Stephen Merchant, Dafne Keen
Malaysia Release Date: 2 March 2017
Local Distributor: 20th Century Fox Malaysia
Production: Marvel Entertainment, Kinberg Genre, 20th Century Fox Film Corp., The Donners' Company, TSG Entertainment
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