Logan ★★★½

I can understand the immense appreciation that has come with the release of James Mangold’s Logan, his second venture into the character’s franchise. It pulls away from the familiar construct and backdrop of the X-Men franchise, choosing to take a more narrow, and almost completely Western-inspired outlook to its storytelling. Taking forth an opportunity to finally penetrate the Wolverine figure in ways that had never been achieved in previous films.

Mangold is not a stranger to the genre, neither is he alien to the franchise, but here in Logan is the first time that the director has blended both aspects. It is an approach that should be applauded as finds him at a position of comfort in his storytelling and character analysis. This is undoubtedly the first time where I have felt so close to Jackman’s Logan, chipping off the confident and indestructible barrier, and finally reveal the vulnerabilities and soul that linger beneath.

The film’s first half is where the film was at its most riveting, where the titular character appeared broken and hopeless, despite a dream to sail away from this seemingly desolate world. It is here that Mangold manages to search for the essence of this character, to witness this man at an unredeemable state and reveal the unsuspecting challenge of accepting the last glimmer of hope for his race, shelled in the existence of a young girl by the name of Laura. Through obvious parallels to Shane, this is the director paying particular homage to a film without entirely remaking, unlike one of his earlier works, 3:10 to Yuma - a revision of a 1957 Western film.

Logan is not shy of truly earning its R rating, showcasing its violence and profanity when they are most needed, both aspects simply not present for the sake of it, but instead are necessary characteristic to mould the battered and bruised landscape of Logan, to reveal its characters at their most furthest edge of not just physically, but emotionally too. With a glimmer of razzle dazzle to be found in its kinetic sequences, it still pertains to the gritty intention of Mangold’s themes and characterisation, shaping form the cruel brutality that dominates this frightening and soul-crushing future.

However, despite the strengths that the film managed to establish in its first half, as the film’s road journey progresses towards a destination entitled “Eden”, one can feel its narrative entering onto a more archetypal and hollow state that unfortunately serves half the appeal that was previously offered. Sure, the landscape and tone remains true, but the demand of the scenes in the latter half begins to dwindle. It seems that there is less stimuli that would further deconstruct the Logan character, and its scenes begin to take form the traditional archetypes of a comic book film, with a climax that feels rather forced and obligated rather than necessary to amplify and conclude its thematic intentions.

Jackman after 17 years of portraying the character, there is a sense of comfort in donning the role, but in Logan, the actor is willing to push the limitations a little further in order to provide not only the character, but its fans, the needed send off it deserves. Paired with newcomer Dafne Keen as Laura and familiar collaborator Patrick Stewart as Charles Xavier, they equally bring forth a strong performance, proving Logan to be one of the more better acted film of the franchise.

If Mangold didn’t drop the ball so much in the film’s later moments, then I am sure I would have considered Logan to be a triumph, but enough subversion of the franchise’s traditions has still managed to let Logan to deem itself as a breakthrough for the series, expanding forth a sense of wealth in its characterisation that has severely lacking in this day and age of superhero/comic book adaptations.

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