Though engaging, "Logan" stumbles without an interesting villain
“Logan” is the culmination of the Wolverine spinoff trilogy, and most likely Hugh Jackman’s last time playing the beloved comic book mutant, a role he became synonymous with over his 17-year stint.
A marketing campaign featuring a trailer with the Johnny Cash cover of “Hurt” aptly set the tone for what would be Marvel Studio’s second R-rated superhero movie in a little over a year, following on the heels of the uber successful “Deadpool.” By starting off with an f-bomb, severed limbs and enough gore to make any parent think twice about bringing their child, the movie instantly captures part of the previously stifled appeal of Logan: his unfiltered, animalistic nature.
While the movie was billed as a gritty, more “real,” comic book film, showcasing Logan’s (Hugh Jackman) potential final stand and definite torch passing to a younger mutant (Dafne Keene) with similar powers, it ultimately is as similar to a superhero movie, more specifically an X-Men movie, as you can get.
Well-paced, brutal and easy to follow action shots and a southwestern setting that offers a welcome change from familiar superhero locales are stylistic differences that director James Mangold uses to differentiate the film early on from other genre contemporaries. The film follows a sicker, older and somehow angrier Logan in the year 2029, a time in which a new mutant hasn’t been seen in 25 years. He spends his days as a ride-share limo driver in Texas watching over a sickly Professor X, played by the fantastic Patrick Stewart, hiding away from his past. The plot takes a turn for the familiar as the protagonists engage in a game of cat and mouse with the group searching for the Logan-esque mutant, offering very little in the way of surprises.
Boyd Holbrook plays the central villain, a slick talking, Southern mutant-hunting mercenary who, is undoubtedly charismatic, but lacks a real motivation, or fighting ability, to make him seem like much more than a nuisance. The scenes where Logan battles his clone are remarkably brutal, but ultimately there’s nothing engaging or overly frightening about seeing two Jackmans on the screen at the same time. The scientist (Richard E. Grant) who wants to control mutantkind is a familiar X-Men motif, making what could have been a story about Logan’s search for redemption a much more personal and refreshing story.
Hugh Jackman’s physicality, on the back of an entirely passable superhero screenplay littered with emotional or often jaw-dropping moments make for an engaging film, especially in the first hour and twenty minutes. However, a lack of an interesting villain, several plot holes and a refusal to fully commit to the darkness and potentially gripping story that is “old-man” Logan keep the movie from delivering on all the promise of the first half of the film.
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