Logan: R-rated Excellence

Photo courtesy of 20th Century Fox/Marvel Entertainment

9 out of 10

Logan is nothing like the other films in the X-Men franchise. Films like “Apocalypse” or “Days of Future Past” are about their huge set pieces and long action sequences. “Logan,” on the other hand, is about its characters. Sure it’s filled with some of the best action in the franchise to date, but the film absolutely doesn’t shy away from spending a big chunk of its time quietly developing its characters. Consequently, with excellent performances across the board, you get the most engaging film in the X-Men franchise to date.

Logan is R-rated. You really need to understand that because it’s the main reason why the action is excellent. There is an inherent level of brutality to Wolverine fighting other humans, and filmmakers have always had to work around that because X-Men titles have always been PG-13. With its R-rating, “Logan” can instead embrace that brutality. Limbs are severed, bodies are eviscerated, and you quite frequently see a claw shoved in and out of someone’s skull. Its fast, it’s viscous and it’s ludicrously entertaining to watch Logan Tear through a group of mercenaries. This film easily has some of the best action of this year.

One of the pleasant surprises of the film was the world it was set in. Occurring in 2027, they managed to create an engaging near-future setting that never broke suspension of disbelief. Robotic prosthetic limbs, self-driving 18-wheelers, and holographic billboards are all within the realm of possibility and each pops up in a very natural way. They take a show not tell policy towards it, and honestly a lot of the time you forget the film is set in the future. But every now and again, it shows something reminds and helps build Logan’s cool and subtle setting.

The one thing about making a film that’s focused on its characters is that it relies very heavily on the performances of its actors. Luckily for “Logan,” its actors kill it across the board. At this point Hugh Jackman has been playing Wolverine for nearly two decades, so it’s practically second nature. Patrick Stewart’s performance on the other hand is very different from what he’s done in the past with Professor X and was actually a big surprise for me. The two of them together is great though, they’re both gruff worn-out old men. With the freedom to curse that comes with an R-rating they’re really able to give some great, and often hilarious scenes. Dafne Keen fills out the other main role fairly well as the girl Wolverine ends up protecting, though her performance is largely based on her ability to scowl and stare daggers. Additionally, the cyborg main villain played by Boyd Holbrook is surprisingly effective as an antagonist. He’s immediately unlikable and he stands up as a serious threat to wolverine, which is no small feat without any real superpowers. Really without exception, The cast is able to deliver the performances they needed to make the film work.