(Welcome back. This would have been posted yesterday except I was participating in the Day Without a Woman.)
It has been a very long time since I have read an X-Men comic, and almost as long since I have seen an X-Men movie. (At least, not one from the original timeline where Professor X is played by Patrick Stewart and Wolverine by Hugh Jackman; I have a sneaking fondness for First Class that probably has a fair amount to do with Michael Fassbender and those beautiful ears.)
But when an unexpected opportunity to take in an after-breakfast super-bargain early matinee came along on Tuesday, I dropped everything for a chance to see Logan. And that’s because I’d heard that it wasn’t a superhero movie, it was a movie with a superhero in it. A very good movie with a superhero in it. And that is one of my favorite things.
Capsule review: Logan really is a very good movie. So good that the rest of 2017 is going to have to work hard to catch up if it doesn’t want to make it two years in a row that the “best of” goes to a “movie with a superhero in it” that was released in the late winter/early spring lull. Granted, this one is pretty much as far from the brilliantly nasty black comedy that was Deadpool as it’s possible to be (except as regards the violence), but it is every bit as good. And every bit as deserving of its R rating, so beware. But as long as you don’t mind a lot of blood, it is highly recommended. Bring a handkerchief.
The rest of the review is behind the cut, and man does it need to be. Spoiling this one would be criminal.
The closest I came to being spoiled for Logan was watching an interview with Sir Patrick Stewart on a late night talk show. He described the film as being about an old man and his son and his granddaughter going on a cross country road trip, and it is exactly that. And it is an elegy to a lost world, and a near-future corporate dystopia. And it is very much a movie about two characters facing the deaths of their fathers.
But mostly Logan is a Western, and a very fine one. The characters move through the Great American Landscape finding truth and freedom in deserts and mountains and danger and death in woods and near water. They rescue a Lost (or Renegade) Kid, Fulfill their Destinies while Protecting (or suffering while attempting to protect) Families, all while on a Journey that turns out to be a quest that is Achieved at Terrible Cost so Others Can Enjoy a Better World. Guns are involved, and the plot turns on one specific bullet, even though the title character famously “Doesn’t Like Guns”.
And of course the youngest and oldest members of the family watch one of the greatest classic Westerns on TV in a hotel room during a Moment of Peace, which if it isn’t something that often happens in a traditional Western, is very much in the spirit of the thing. Also the growing liberation of the characters as they change cars is an interesting modern Western touch– they begin in a futuristic limousine in dark and dangerous “civilization”, then move to a current model pickup truck in an agricultural area, and finally drive a classic early Bronco through a pure and beautiful wilderness.
I don’t want to give away the details of the plot, which deserves a dignified unfolding on screen. But Logan turns on two of the great tropes of the hero story: the last ride and passing the torch. That tells you not much, and everything you need to know.
As always the notes have the worst spoilers in them. Beware. I’d put ’em behind a second cut if I could.
I meant it about the handkerchief. If you are not bawling at the end of this movie you do not love the X-Men.
You can see why there is no post credits scene.
It’s been a long time since I’ve seen a flick where so much of the plot turned on the caliber of a single bullet.
Logan has at least three of the best “desperate fights between characters with nearly identical backgrounds and abilities” that I have ever seen in my life.
Love all the Firefly references, which are of course part of the whole Western thing.
Finally, there is a lot to like about the new baby X-Men and I hope we see more of them, perhaps once they have grown up a bit. The new Wolverine is a great character– who doesn’t love this frantically amped up version of the Lost Child/ Renegade Kid of the classic Western cast? I’m also crazy about how the new group is led by someone who is clearly a young Magneto. Plus they all have Mexican mothers, which may turn out to be an interesting idea politically if the writers choose to pursue it.