BY DYLYN PETERSON
Staff Writer, UAS Whalesong
Probably the hottest burning question about “Logan” was whether or not it benefited from its R rating. The answer is yes. Wolverine finally got to go claws out, lopping off limbs like an eight-year-old playing Fruit Ninja. But perhaps the most impressive part of the action sequences in “Logan” is how unimpressive they are. Logan, deprived of his healing factor and being slowly poisoned by his adamantium-plated bones, is well-described by IGN as “no longer a claws-baring superhero but an aging shadow of his former self.” Every fight scene featuring him is a stressful, painful affair. It seems that, at any time, he might finally be beaten, crumpling to the ground and ending the movie immediately, even outside of battle. This adds investment and stakes to Logan that are, in this cinematic moment, almost foreign to the superhero genre.
The tone of the film reaps the benefits of these stakes constantly. Its pace is slow and deliberate, investing more time into character development and interaction than bloody action scenes. The mood evoked is one of regret, trauma, and excruciating failure. “Logan” is a swan song not only to the titular character, but to all of the X-Men and perhaps (modern) comic book movies as a whole. At times, it feels like a two-and-a-half hour eulogy, if not for Logan himself, then for the childhoods and creative enterprises he influenced, and will influence no longer.
The characters and performances are perfect. Hugh Jackman, as expected, simply is Wolverine. He looks, acts, and feels like a war-torn man nearing his two-hundredth birthday. Patrick Stewart breaks out his decades of Shakespearean training in his portrayal of a nonagenarian Charles Xavier, whose degenerating brain gives him seizures that can render city blocks paralyzed and in debilitating pain. X-23, simply called Laura, makes her cinematic debut with, appropriately, the cinematic debut of actress Dafne Keen, who is way too good for this to be her first film. She is less an awesome fighter than she is a terrifying force of nature. The villains, Boyd Holbrook’s Donald Pierce and Richard E. Grant’s Zander Rice, are despicable human beings whose inevitable comeuppance is bittersweet. Plus, Stephen Merchant, best known as Wheatley from Portal 2, is in the movie, which alone justifies its existence.
The plot, or what little of it can be summarized without spoiling the film, is a departure from the huge scale of most comic book movies. In the year 2029, almost every mutant in the world is dead, and none have been born in 25 years. Logan is a limo driver living in California, with Charles Xavier hidden in an abandoned warehouse on the other side of the US/Mexico border, saving up money to buy a boat and live out the rest of their lives in peace away from the increasingly dystopian America. This all changes when a woman named Gabriella offers him $50,000 to take her and a young girl to North Dakota, and is quickly murdered. He then proceeds on a cross-country journey, all the while being chased by the cybernetic Reavers, who work for the evil, definitely-not-Monsanto-by-another-name company Transigen.
The script is simultaneously the weakest and strongest element of the film. While the arrangement of scenes, character interactions, plot twists, and settings are incredibly strong, the dialogue, particularly the Spanish dialogue (which is plentiful and untranslated), is occasionally lacking. They are allowed to swear as much as they want in Logan, and it shows. They drop their first F-bomb literally two words into the movie. The issue with the dialogue is not so much its weakness but that it is inconsistently weak. Whole exchanges are written with skill and precision, only to be followed by a scene with a lot of curse words simply because R ratings are cool.
However, these issues are but the minutest of hurdles to the enjoyment of Logan, whose greatest flaw is that it does not set aside time for one last glorious fastball special. I give it seven vastly-inferior-movies-necessary-for-its-existence out of seven.
(Also, for those of you expecting an appearance from Deadpool…I can neither confirm nor deny his presence. I can only say that you will not be disappointed. Unless you think that there’s a post-credits scene.)