We love the fact that An Englishman In San Diego is an open, fair space for fans and enthusiasts to share their fandoms – you can get in touch if there’s something that you want to write about and get out into the world.
One of those that had something to share is good friend of the site, J.C. (@StrayShotFirst), who wanted to talk about his thoughts on the latest installment of 20th Century Fox‘s X-MEN franchise, LOGAN – if you are one of the very few that hasn’t thrown your shekels into the cap for this box office busting film, maybe J.C. can convince you to check out the film before it eventually abandons the big screen…
J.C: I spent my Sunday night and about eight pounds watching Hugh Jackman‘s latest and last rendition of X-MEN‘s Wolverine, and I have to say I was not disappointed by how I spent my money and time.
I was pleasantly surprised by this movie – I haven’t been a fan of the character of Wolverine since I watched the animated yellow suited anti-hero as a kid, finding the following film adaptation personally quite dull, as an adult. Indestructible and, in some versions of the comic, able to regenerate from a single drop of blood, his conflict lacked any real risk or tension for me. It’s the classic Superman effect, and it forces writers do engage ‘deux ex machina’ in reserve to keep things interesting.
(For my anti-hero, I’m more of a PUNISHER fan normally, especially Jon Bernthal‘s performance in session two of DAREDEVIL. Okay, sure, we can be pretty positive that he’s going to end up coming out on top in the end, but the guy gets messed up on the way. No shrugging of shotgun blasts for Frank Castle, just pure old fashioned grit through the blood sweat and bullet holes. I digress, though.)
Any-hoo, having now successfully annoyed the Wolverine fanboys, let me tell you why I think LOGAN was a fantastic movie and, if you haven’t seen it at the cinema already, you probably should do.
Firstly, Hugh Jackman‘s take as “Old Man Logan” was an exceptional example of character acting. For all of the character flaws, Jackman has always been a perfect fit to play Wolverine, even in those films I didn’t put much stock into. However, what you see in LOGAN is more than just Hugh Jackman playing a stock grouchy anti-hero. From the very first scene, he practically radiates the feeling of been old, beaten and worn out in every nuance. For me, this was one of the highpoints of the film’s appeal.
Gone is the mutant with the unbreakable bones, adamantium claws and healing factor who can cut effortlessly through an army of machine-gun toting, faceless minions; in his place is an man whose every step out of the bed – or, in a hungover state, wherever he ends up laying his head – feels like an endeavor. Jackman’s Logan here is someone who can barely take a beating, getting punched, knifed, stabbed and shot, yet still somehow drags on through sheer stubbornness. I felt tired and weary just watching him – in today’s charged landscape of people feeling they just have to keep lowing on, Logan became a hell of a lot more relatable than his previous incarnations than just an unstoppable killing machine.
This sense of an broken-down hero, hiding on the outskirts of civilization, also makes the subsequent fight scenes all the more engaging – suddenly every unblocked blow counts, every wound taking a bit more out of him, every un-dodged shot is potentially going to lay him out on his back, maybe this time for good. Now, THAT makes for some exciting action sequences!
“Hang on, though,” I hear you say. “Fast-paced action sequences and unstoppable killing machines are why I love the WOLVERINE films, do you mean there is nothing in this for me?” Whoa, there! Steady on, don’t worry, LOGAN has something for you as well.
For you, enter the mysterious young mutant Laura, superbly played by Dafne Keen. Laura arrives on the scene within the first act, and her character more than fulfills the unspoken requirement of Wolverine films to have an often unestimated badass. Not only does she deliver some amazingly satisfying action sequences but the contrast of the scenes of her child-like innocence will tug on your heartstrings. If that still doesn’t work for you, and it’s Jackman you need to see kicking ass well, they still find a few ways to get that in there too.
Alongside Hugh Jackman and Dafne, SIR PATRICK STEWART plays an interesting and previously unexplored version of Charles Xavier. I won’t talk too much about his take in fear of spoiling the film, but Hugh Jackman isn’t the only one who does his aging character justice and all the Earl Gray in the world won’t stave off the rigours of advancing years. Xavier provides not only the expertly timed comic relief but also his fair share of tear-jerking moments.
So, you’ve heard me praise the heroes – villains in films and especially comic book movies often make the film, as much if not more so, than the heroes. Boyd Holbrook as Pierce, a sardonic rogue hunting our protagonists, and RICHARD GRANT as Dr. Rice, the evil scientist with the eerily calm nature. Both play their roles well, Pierce especially finding the right balance between being someone you’d quite like to get their comeuppance but still want to get plenty of screen time.
I’ve talked a lot about the characters and not much about the plot itself – that’s because the plot in this film isn’t necessarily groundbreaking, you won’t find some big twist or a radical story arc here. It’s a classic road movie, visiting some everyday locations and characters, still compelling because all the characters encountered are interesting and relatable. We care what is going to happen to them, and for that reason, we are willing to watch them travel along a very simple plot that leads to a satisfying and moving ending. Director James Mangold‘s pacing, while just a beat too slow, I felt worked well with the old and worn out tone of the film.
LOGAN is a rarity in the modern era of action films full of motion blur and 2d characters and outlandish over the top plots where everything is at stake, so nothing is. It’s a simple story, with heart, and characters that you can root for and against, and for those reasons alone I think it’s worth your time.
LOGAN is directed by James Mangold and written by Michael Green and David James Kelly. It will be produced by Lauren Shuler Donner and distributed by 20th Century Fox. Set in the future of 2024, Logan and Professor Charles Xavier must cope with the loss of the X-Men when a corporation lead by Nathaniel Essex is destroying the world leaving it to destruction, with Logan’s healing abilities slowly fading away and Xavier’s Alzheimer’s forcing him to forget. Logan must defeat Nathaniel Essex with the help of a young girl named Laura Kinney, a female clone of Wolverine. Stars Hugh Jackman (Logan), PATRICK STEWART (Proffesor X), Sienna Novikov (Laura Kinney), Boyd Holbrook (Pierce), STEPHEN MERCHANT (Caliban), and RICHARD E. GRANT (Dr. Zander Rice). The film’s release date is March 2017.