Disclaimer: The following LOGAN review for Twentieth Century Fox’s new movie was justifiably branded with an “R” rating by the Motion Picture Association of America. AdventuresByDaddy.com is a family friendly site that generally only offers reviews for films that are suitable for families to view together. Because of our positive relationship with both Twentieth Century Fox and Marvel Studios, as well as our continuing coverage of most films in the superhero genre, when Fox reached out and invited us to a very special advance screening, we decided to take advantage of the invitation and review this film on our site. Please be aware that the favorable review that follows should not be interpreted as an endorsement of the film as being appropriate for children. It is definitely for adults only.
After both the release and success of Twentieth Century Fox’s 2016 film DEADPOOL, which earned over $780 million dollars worldwide, I expected to see all of the big Hollywood studios do what they always do- take advantage of the situation by making the “R” rated superhero movie a common practice. After all, how often have we seen one success lead to the inevitable copycat syndrome? Yet, the studios surprisingly haven’t been so quick to go this route and have continued to play it safe with the more family friendly ratings, even though films like DC’s SUICIDE SQUAD could have really benefited from a more adult tone. It once again took Twentieth Century Fox to step up and take a second stab at an edgier film in the superhero world, and they did it right by refusing to make a copycat of their earlier success story. The result is a smart, gritty and sometimes emotional movie that really shines as a very different take on the superhero genre. Continue reading for our full LOGAN review.
LOGAN takes place in the near future, during a time when the mutants are mostly extinct and a mentally unstable Logan (a.k.a. Wolverine) seems to be barely surviving. When we’re first introduced to him, he’s drunk and asleep in a limousine that he uses to chauffeur people around in. Basically, in order to earn some cash, he’s become little more than a glorified Uber driver. When he’s not working, Logan spends his time taking care of Professor Charles Xavier, who is also not in the best of shape. Xavier suffers from a devastating case of Alzheimer’s which, when not treated with the proper medication, makes him unstable and dangerous to be around. Then, one day, when a woman mysteriously approaches Logan, asking him to help protect a child named Laura, he reluctantly agrees only to realize that the young girl has powers of her own and that there are dangerous men after her who want to use these power for their own selfish needs.
LOGAN is an intense film. It’s a brutal film. Director James Mangold (WALK THE LINE, 3:10 TO YUMA) doesn’t hold anything back and when it comes to the graphic violence and profanity, he embraces the “R” rating proudly. The language is raw and the violence is extreme. Wolverine uses his claws in a way that would make Freddy Krueger proud. Stepping back and really looking at what the filmmakers are presenting, you might realize that LOGAN has very little in common with any of the other films in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and would fit more comfortably in the company of movies like JOHN WICK.
Being as extreme as it is though, the film also never feels exploitative, because it’s a movie filled with some really dark emotional content as well. Mangold, along with writers Scott Frank and Michael Green, has crafted a strong story with real characters struggling with genuine emotions. This gives the film a real sense of purpose behind its “R” rated tendencies. Less special effects oriented and more about character, audiences shouldn’t expect an overload of CGI effects similar to those evident in films like X-MEN APOCALYPSE or BATMAN V SUPERMAN. Mangold and his writing team have opted to create a story worthy of a grittier atmosphere reminiscent of the old Clint Eastwood Westerns. Emphasizing real character moments, the film places an incredible amount of time in allowing the audience to experience the internal struggles within all the characters. The movie earns it’s violence, because it feels less computer generated while carrying with it a certain amount of real emotional weight.
As most people know, Hugh Jackman has made it very clear that this is going to be his last outing as the Wolverine and he really sinks his claws (cheesy pun intended) into the role, ultimately giving audiences his best performance as the character. Jackman shows a real respect for Logan, giving him some genuine humanity as he’s forced to confront his own inner demons. After playing the Wolverine for 17 years, Jackman still seems to love the character he is portraying, as he refuses to phone in the performance. Instead, he shows Logan some true love and respect as he continues to face the challenges that come with keeping the character engaging and fresh, while also bringing a real tragic quality to the role so that the moviegoer will sympathize with him. He plays Logan more as a man than a superhero, which makes him more relatable in the long run.
The true heart of the film comes from the strange relationship between Logan and Professor Charles Xavier. They both seem to resent and need each other at the same time. Over the years they have gone from strangers to family and in this relationship it becomes obvious that Jackman isn’t the only one committing himself to bringing some real respect to his character. It’s truly heartbreaking to see the once great X-Men leader looking completely helpless throughout much of the story, but Patrick Stewart plays up to the audiences emotions as he interprets the character with real honor and probably gives the most interesting portrayal of Xavier to date. Of course, it’s truly the more adult tone of the film that really gives Stewart the room to explore his character’s state of being to its fullest. He is slowly deteriorating and is prone to seizures, but still takes the protection of the young mutant Laura seriously and treats her in a very grandfatherly way. Feeling sorry for him when we are first introduced to the aging mutant, we are still able to see the wavering strength inside him trying to get out.
There’s also an interesting performance given by newcomer Dafne Keen as Laura, the child that Logan must protect, even though he obviously doesn’t want to. Although her character gives reason to most of the action that takes place, she is also essential to the drama that unfolds. Having to protect Laura from the evil men out to control her gives purpose to both Logan and Xavier’s pointless lives. Though silent throughout most of the film the young actress effectively conveys Laura’s thoughts and feelings by the use of just the right look or facial expression. Laura’s filled with a rage that mirrors Logan’s and Keen plays this emotion as uncontrolled, but never over the top, giving the violent scenes that her character is forced into a non-exploitative quality that resonates as emotionally charged instead.
While DEADPOOL’s success is the very thing that made a “R” rated LOGAN possible, Mangold and his team have approached their film in a very different manner. The only real similarity between the two movies is the small box with a letter R sitting in the middle of it that is placed on the movie’s poster. Instead of a cookie cutter copycat, Twentieth Century Fox has given us an original take on the Marvel Superhero. Smart, gritty and emotional, LOGAN is the first great film of 2017. Beware though, the biggest issue that people may find is when they have to explain to their kids, who have grown to love the character in the PG-13 universe that came first, why they are not allowed to go and see the latest Wolverine film. My advice to all of the adults reading this – leave the young ones at home to re-watch ANT-MAN on the small screen while you “sneak out“ to the theater for a truly adult experience in the Marvel Universe.