I'll say it...Logan wasn’t great, but I so desperately wanted it to be. I wrote an earlier post raving about the Logan trailer and how its gritty tale and awesome, unique premise had the potential to finally do the character justice. Hugh Jackman, I think we all agree, perfectly portrays one of the best characters Marvel has to offer. So it only makes sense that you’d want the movie to be a final swan song success. In every movie, the portrayal of Wolverine has been perfect, the story around him — not so much. I think the standalone films have some merit but ultimately crumble at crucial moments (*cough* Deadpool).
The problem I have with this Wolverine standalone is not necessarily the story, but rather the telling of the story. Here’s what I mean. I found the premise of X-23 and the evil testing facility to be great McGuffins (story devices that act as the reason for the story). The setup is fascinating, Charles is suffering from Alzheimer’s, Logan was a storied hero who has removed himself from the public eye. X-Men has disappeared and an evil agency is cloning/developing mutants for war. Great setup right?
Here’s where things go wrong.
Introduce Logan (Low) -> Logan finds girl, the two fight Akali (High) -> They run -> Fight Alkali at casino -> They run -> They fight at farmhouse -> They run -> Fight at boarder -> The End (she runs).
There’s no buildup, and tension remains pretty much the same throughout. The stakes never really change, the danger remains the same. Besides a few adjustments, the same thing happens four times over. The movie ended and I was disappointed that I watched four fights and a road trip in between.
The movie was heralded for deconstructing the superhero form. In this case it felt like that kitchen joke about fancy deconstructed food. A chef comes to a table serving “deconstructed bruschetta,” which is an uncut loaf of bread and a whole tomato. Rather than adhering to the rising action/three-act structure that’s featured in many films (not just superhero films), the film neglected all of that for a chase movie. Whenever they weren’t fighting they were hitting the road. There were no major twists (except X-24) and no closure. Akali-Transigen is still a company and we have no idea what happened to the other X-Men. It was just doses of action for two hours and then a sad ending. It felt too simple, like a loaf of bread and tomatoes.
Yes, every character had trauma that they had to deal with, which makes the story dynamic. Except very little is resolved. Charles dies in a gut-wrenching way, without seeing his dream realized, and Caliban dies and is harvested for DNA. I can say that Logan dies protecting his daughter, finally managing to protect one person he loves. That is one thing the writers managed to get right, Logan’s final act of redemption.
I feel that the film would’ve been better had there been more rising action and a sense of building tension/impending doom. I think the traditional structure would’ve been better suited. People argue that using the same structure makes Logan just like the rest of the superhero films but I disagree. Logan’s defining difference is the pure grit, tragedy and lack of spandex. That’s how Logan could’ve been deconstructed. Build it up to a climax just like any story but share a story that doesn’t fit the typical superhero mold.
In conclusion I desperately wanted to give Wolverine the movie it deserved. But unfortunately this movie wasn’t it. The premise was interesting, the action scenes intense, and conclusion sad but fitting. But despite these things, we were left with a very basic chase movie. Logan and X-23 run four times and they fight four times, the end. The stakes never changed. A good indicator of a film’s success is whether or not you’d watch it again (in a week). In this case, I wouldn’t.
I would like to thank Hugh Jackman for his portrayal. He single-handedly elevated the X-Movies to a level of success that wouldn’t happen without him. I just wished James Howlett got film he deserved for his time served.
Till next time!