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Logan is the best superhero movie since ‘The Dark Knight’

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(Photo/Comicbook.com)

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(Photo/Comicbook.com)

A sobering tale about the human condition

The reason “Logan” is the best superhero movie since “The Dark Knight” is because it doesn’t act like a superhero movie. There are no spandex uniforms, no over-the-top and visually stunning powers and no world-ending consequences. It’s actually quite the opposite.

“Logan” strips away all of the costumes and CGI, and instead presents us with a sobering tale of the human condition. It trades in bombast and spandex in exchange for simplicity and intimacy. “Logan” focuses on the fragile and delicate nature of the relationships we share with those around us, specifically with our loved ones.

What makes “Logan” so different is that it doesn’t focus on a guy trying to get the girl. Instead, it chooses to focus on the most complicated relationship in the world, between children and parents. The titular character is a man who refuses to let people get close to him for fear of what could happen to them. What director James Mangold (“The Wolverine”) and Hugh Jackman do so well in this film is take this angry and resentful man and put him in a position where he must actually face his feelings and approach them head-on.

That is how “Logan” transcends the superhero genre and becomes a truly epic masterpiece.    

The film takes place in the year 2029, where all mutants are either dead or in hiding. When we first meet Hugh Jackman’s Logan, he’s an alcoholic by everything but name, choosing whiskey over water for every meal. He chauffeurs people around near the Mexican border while caring for an ailing Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart). Xavier, once one of the world’s greatest minds, is suffering from a degenerative brain disorder and is beginning to lose a grip on his powers.

The action kicks into high gear when a young mutant named Laura (Dafne Keen) joins the fray. Laura is a mutant with claws and the ability to heal similar to Logan. Because of this, she’s being chased by a secret organization that hunts down and captures mutants. It is here that the movie’s trio hits the road and begins their adventure.

Jackman, who has stated that this will be his last turn as the Wolverine, portrays Logan beautifully in this film. Unlike other films, Jackman is allowed to really delve into the character and depict just what type of man Logan is. He gives audiences an intimate look at the brutal and battered psyche of his character. He plays a tortured man who lived a brutal and violent life full of tragedy and disappointment, a life that he just wants to end.

It may be a grim and depressing view into the mind of Logan, but it’s the rawest and emotional performance I’ve seen in awhile. The way he balances emotional scenes with Laura and Professor X versus his bits of violent rage is masterful and extremely compelling.  

(Photo/Comicbook.com)

To compliment his performance, Stewart is a scene-stealer as the elderly Professor X. His charm and charisma add levity to the film and make his scenes of helplessness excruciating to watch. The world’s greatest telepath is losing his mind on screen, and it might just hurt the audience more than it does him. Stewart’s pleasant virtue and optimism make his fits of forgetfulness agonizing.

Keen speaks very little throughout the first three quarters of the film, but her stoic nature and silent presence are enough to take over the movie. Her action scenes are exhilarating and vividly violent, reminiscent of a younger Jackman. She’s captivating when she does speak, saying few words with a lot of meaning. It is a phenomenal first performance for someone like her.   

One of the keys to the raw and emotional feel of this movie is the R-rating. The violence is grotesque and beautiful all at once, developing into a slasher film midway through the second act. The violence breaks up the monotony of the journey and keeps the audience on the edge of their seats. Watching Jackman and Keen leap around in an almost feral state is mesmerizing and serves as a reminder of just how vicious the Wolverine can be.

The adult dialogue makes the scenes all the more realistic. The rating gives Jackman more leeway to depict an even angry and more furious Wolverine. The rating brings out how truly emotional his character is, while also aiding in Stewart’s portrayal as a man who is losing his mind. Watching Jackman and Stewart swear back and forth gives an in-depth look at their relationship and emphasizes how deeply connected they are.

The movie contains a very dark and almost horrifying twist about halfway through the film that puts the entirety of the character of Wolverine into perspective. Mangold gives a figurative and literal look at who Logan is now, who he was before and how he has changed over the course of the series.

The film has some very un-superhero-like scenes that illustrate real life better than some Oscar winners. The dinner scene that shown in commercials is uplifting and nostalgic. Watching Jackman carry Stewart around throughout the film and help him with simple tasks like using the bathroom is painful to watch. But nothing compares to the closing scene between Keen and Jackman, which is nothing short of heartbreaking.

“Logan” does drag a bit towards the latter half of the movie and probably could’ve been 10 to 20 minutes shorter. The villains in the movie have enough spunk to be relevant and present in audience’s minds, but it is the surprise that really makes this movie worth it. There are also several real-world themes that “Logan” glances over in the course of the film but never really delves into. The parallels are eerie considering the script was written before some of the current events that make them relevant.

“Logan” is a phenomenal movie. Not a phenomenal superhero movie, but a phenomenal movie. Few movies have brought me to the verge of tears, made me leap out of my seat and forced me to cringe in agony the way this one did. It is a movie about mutants that does a stupendous job of capturing what it’s like to be a human.

This was nothing short of the perfect sendoff for Hugh Jackman, and may just be his finest piece of acting — ever.

Email Thomas at [email protected]

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The digital-first, student-run magazine of the University of Massachusetts Amherst Journalism Department
Logan is the best superhero movie since ‘The Dark Knight’