“Logan” earns its R rating.
It’s violent to a degree that isn’t just speeding down the highway of what viewers have come to expect from the franchise — it could have gotten off a few exits back and still been coarse enough to merit the rating that also allows for all the F-bombs it drops. It’s excessive to the point of being distracting in places, and the film itself has several moments that are nothing short of predictable.
And yet, for all of that and for all the effort that the paper-thin villains went through trying to manufacture mutants to be the perfect killing machines, there’s an undeniable humanity to “Logan” that goes far beyond anything I could have ever hoped for.
There’s a feeling that permeates “Logan” from beginning to end. It’s the last remnant of the X-Men franchise as we’ve known it for 17 years, and it not only feels like a swan song to that, it also feels like everyone is saying “Here we are; we’re all grown up.” You won’t find a cape or a piece of fanciful headgear or any fun, wink-wink dialogue here.
Let’s be clear, there’s very little about “Logan” that’s fun.
The movie opens up in 2029, with Logan, considerably worse for wear, working as a limo driver in the U.S. and living in the Mexican desert where he can care for an ailing Charles Xavier. Both men are shells of their former selves. Logan seems like he’s one really bad day from being done with the world and Charles is suffering from a degenerative brain disease that looks an awful lot like Alzheimer’s and gives him psychic seizures that can seriously damage the people around him.
It’s a grim direction for arguably the most beloved characters of these movies, but there’s also something gratifying about it.
Though we start seeing these men at their worst — angry and irritable with themselves, each other and their situation — we also see them at, perhaps, their best. As they become entwined in the journey of a young mutant on the run from a shadowy organization, the ease with which they adopt the cover of a road-tripping daughter, father and grandfather, feels less like a fiction and more like a heartbreaking could-have-been. And it only works because of the history, respect and fondness that Logan and Charles share.
“Logan” reaches emotional depths that its predecessors could never quite manage and while some fans may love it for the gory claw-fest they’ve been waiting nearly two decades to see, it’s the quieter moments that really make it shine.
For spoiler-talk on Logan, click here.
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