Tierney Watkinson | Team Member
No spoilers, I promise.
Full disclosure, while I have seen all of the X-Men movies except for the most recent (which directly preceded Logan), I have yet to read the comics. While (or perhaps because) I am aware of the different timelines within the X-Men Universe I feel as though I am definitely missing chunks of content.
That being said, Logan could be enjoyed even without watching all of the prequels first. Watching Logan with the limited background knowledge I may have, I absolutely loved the film.
I cried. Multiple times. Granted, it had been a long day and I was in such a mood that during a certain scene of the movie which involved horses, I nearly lost my composure completely. I’m just relieved that my group of movie-watching friends and I were at an early showing and the only person who noticed I was bawling because a horse nearly went “splat” in the middle of a film where multiple humans actually died was my understandably alarmed boyfriend, who kept an eye on me for the rest of the evening in case I started completely losing the shreds of sanity I seemed to be grasping at.
The reasons I loved the film: there are many. I cannot describe them all in detail without spoilers.
Of the points I can mention, first is the post-apocalyptic taste without the actual apocalypse. Something has happened, it seems, that has rendered the country a bleak, desolate place. The landscape is unwelcoming and harsh. This environment is a reflection of Logan’s deteriorating soul. There is nothing but dry, choking dust and small shrubs surrounding the abandoned plant where Logan lives in hiding with fellow mutants Caliban and Professor Charles Xavier. The threat of something lurks in every scene. Thugs working in the dead of night to strip a car. Decrepit characters stumbling along a border wall. Unwelcoming fences somehow everywhere and containing, separating, always looming overhead where Logan and his companions reside.
My second reason is the flawed humanity of these once seemingly indestructible superhero characters. Logan nearly refuses to help save an eleven-year-old child. He is physically and emotionally breaking apart and relies heavily on alcohol to numb his feelings. Professor Xavier is kept in a state of senility and locked away by Logan and Caliban because he is losing control of his powers, and thus is a threat to everyone around him. Even the character of the young girl, easy to admire for her tenacity and intelligence despite her young age, is arguably detached and alien.
Third reason: the quest that involves bringing a child to safety, a young girl who not only symbolizes hope but also has incredible powers, just like Wolverine. She is both a victim and unconventionally heroic. What I loved the most about this film was that this female character is not sexualized. Of course, she is only eleven, but what I really mean is that she is not “feminine” in the nurturing, emotional sense as you see girls and women often portrayed as being on television and in film. She doesn’t wear pastel colours or skirts, she wears jean jackets and pink-and-blue sunglasses she stole from a corner store. She is not dainty. She is far from helpless. She is practical, blunt, and a survivalist. She has a destination in mind and will forcibly move anything that is in her way. She is not crying and waiting to be saved. She is not trying to be likable. This is not a movie about a damsel being delivered–it is a movie about the bonds between old friends and strangers who share a common identity.
This brings me to my final favourite point concerning the film: the theme. Family. Love, in the face of confinement and the threat of loss. Logan, as superhero movies go, was darker, grittier, and more heart-wrenching than any such film I have seen in a long time. The over-played drama of Batman v. Superman, for example, absolutely pales in comparison. Logan’s character does, as is obvious from the movie trailer, experience the cliche rejection of power and reluctance to take up the fight. However the Wolverine, in hiding and working as a glorified taxi driver, has understandable reasons for trying to exist as anything but a hero. He is not rejecting responsibility so much as he is afraid of gaining and subsequently losing something he has already had and lost–a family. The events of the past haunt him. He is trying to keep the loved ones who remain by his side, trapped in hiding with him, alive. As I mentioned before, the Wolverine is crumbling. Dr. X is suffering from a neurodegenerative disease and is potentially dangerous without hourly doses of medication. Caliban cannot withstand direct sunlight and is in danger every time he steps outside. Logan wants to abandon the girl and avoid all ties to her because he does not want to lose what little he has left. The Professor is trying his hardest to convince Logan that he can have that feeling of belonging again, of love, without the fear of loss. The film is centered around the family structure, around loyalty, around the love that a battle-weary man struggles to accept and return in kind.
The screenplay was written before the most recent US presidential election, and takes place further in the future, but the parallels between the film’s USA and the USA in reality are shocking. There is a threatening, barbed-wire barrier on the border between Mexico and the USA. The girl, introduced as a new mutant after 25 years without one being discovered, is forced to flee to a new country because the government sees her as dangerous. America is heavily preoccupied with the idea of weaponry as well as the idea of the mutants being dangers to humanity, as though mutants were a single threatening mass and not terrified individuals who craved safety and normalcy.
The only major flaw I found within the film, or at least that I noticed even in my overly emotional state, was that the objective to get the girl to the Canadian border seems somewhat flimsy and ridiculous. I am not convinced of the power of that magic line, as portrayed in this film, but it was one of the very few things about the story that I questioned.
If my review of Logan makes you think it is a sappy film, let me debunk that for you. It is not. In addition to all of the feelings, the film contains some amazingly choreographed fight scenes, which I cannot rave about without giving spoilers.
Logan was gritty, it was thoughtful, it felt real. I highly recommend watching it.