In the midst of this newfound fatherdom I've found myself with a miscalibrated pop culture radar and as such, while I am aware of the praise that was heaped on Logan, I wasn't quite sure if this was something that would live up to it. Yet I stayed away from the self-established expectations that came with it. And lo and behold I was able to check it out when the boy was in daycare (holy crap, I typed those words in a sentence!). Seriously though, handling Logan's story arc in this film is like, well, some goofball who stumbled into parenthood.
James Mangold came up with the story, which a couple of screenwriters, including fellow The Wolverine screenwriter Scott Frank put into a screenplay. We find Logan (Hugh Jackman) on a low key scale, serving as a limo driver and having a bit of a drinking problem in the year 2029. He takes care of Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart), who maintains a tremendous mindset which is betraying him as Alzheimer's gets a firmer grasp on him. Through Xavier, Logan learns he has a daughter named Laura (Dafne Keen) who also has an adamantium skeleton, but isn't damaging as much as Logan's is. Logan tries to protect Laura from a biotech corporation who has been involved with genetic engineering of mutants (despite no new ones being born for more than two decades), including a younger version of himself named X-24.
Watching Logan with little exposure to it, two things were striking to me; the first was the depth and range that Jackman expressed with the character. Logan is a guy who preferred to be a lone during the heyday of his health and well-being amongst the X-Men, but in Logan we see a guy who sure, had no qualms about maintaining this sense of isolation, but as the film moves on we learn Logan's a guy who has fears of this isolation like many other people, and this vulnerability amongst a guy who we've known to be impenetrable for years is fascinating to see. Compounding this is that Logan and his darkness matches the character's darkness. Lots of people get their heads cinematically blown off in this, which is something we didn't see in prior movies, much less X-Men movies, and this near-unabashed confidence in this violence is a notable change of pace as well. These two turns are welcome to experience.
Jackman's range is impressive, and just as so is young Dafne Keen who plays Laura. Seeing Wolverine's strength, general braggadocio and similar characteristics in a 8-year old girl and Keen's conveyance of it is impressive to watch. The film is a bit of a road movie at times with Logan, Xavier and Laura in one space together and for many of those periods, Laura could be considered the strongest individual amongst the trio. Seeing that in a comic book movie was damned impressive. Stewart's presence is welcome and he delivers his conflicts with a great level of sensitivity, and the trio make for a welcome combination.
In the supplements, Mangold mentions on more than one occasion the inspiration for Logan being William Munny in Unforgiven (among other Western films) is refreshing to see, as the once irredeemable Logan tries to find some fashion of salvation, or his sense of it in this not too distant future where mutants are less and less commonplace.
Mangold manages to take elements of what we know about Wolverine and Logan and introduce a looming sense of mortality within the character that Jackman plays to perfection, or the closest thing to it. In a vacuum Logan may not be entirely memorable, but it does take a cinematic mythology and put it on its head with themes that comic book action films don't see much of. It's bold and daring, and may be one of the most memorable films of 2017.The Blu-ray:
Fox rolls out Logan with an AVC encoded 2.40:1 transfer which looks fantastic. Colors look marvelous and the black levels in the film are inky and consistent throughout, providing quality contrast. Shadow delineation is good and the image is devoid of haloing or smoothing. The exterior shots in the country have enough brown in them from the dust you'll find yourself coughing. Greens of the forest are vibrant, image detail is abundant whether it's the crags and greying facial hair of Jackman and Stewart to clothing and fabrics in Logan's limo. Excellent stuff by Fox.
Along with the color version, the black and white version (called Logan Noir) looks the part also, with the blacks looking very good, though bordering on some DNR in a couple of parts, specifically when Laura and Logan are resting in the car. It's not a large issue and at the end of the day the monochrome version is…OK I guess? However, at the end of the day it feels like a welcome but more unnecessary inclusion.The Sound:
The DTS-HD 7.1 Master Audio lossless track brings the fun, starting from the early scenes, when Logan is shot by a gang member looking to steal his limo's rims (spoiler alert, it doesn't go well for one of those people). Dialogue is well-balanced and strong enough that the user doesn't have to worry, and the moments where Xavier's all-encompassing brain seizures are taking hold, the ringing and pulsing pounds through all the channels and makes you feel part of the struggle to relieve his mind. The numerous firefights include gunfire echoing through all channels, and explosions that include ample subwoofer participation. Fox takes a stellar BD transfer and matches it with this soundtrack.The Extras:
Mangold provides a commentary to the film that proves to be a superb complement to the film. He talks about where he and Jackman were with it, and his approach to this story, and thoughts on securing the ‘R' rating. He points out any moments of second unit or visual effects work, and apologizes in the beginning for any prolonged moments of watching the movie, which he says is to help show the context of a production decision. The production recollection and scene implication decisions are worthy and substantial, and for a solo track of more than two hours, is worth a listen.
Just as worthy an inclusion is the making of look at the film, a multi-part, feature length experience (1:16:05) where some of the same ground of the commentary is covered (what Mangold and Jackman wanted to do, why they wanted to make it dark), but also some of the usual ground is covered like the cast regulars on the newcomers to the universe. The cast talked about their fondness for doing different things compared to the past, and thoughts on Laura's arrival is shown. Location and wardrobe design is shown, along with the ample fight rehearsals and breakdown. Animatics and concept art is included, along with footage from the scoring sessions, final thoughts and the like. It's up to the task and there's enough unique material to make this worth checking out.
The rest of the material is brief. 6 deleted scenes (7:45) include optional commentary but don't add anything to either version of the film, and three trailers (6:32), including a red band trailer, complete things, along with a digital version. The color and black and white versions are on separate discs, and the 4K release breaks down the same way.Final Thoughts:
Another thing about Logan which makes it worth its enjoyment is, for someone who has generally checked out of the X-Men franchise as a whole, there isn't a lot of detail to be swept up in as far as catching up goes; you know about Logan, you know about Xavier, and that's generally all you really need to dive into this film. And you'll be rewarded for it too; with a film that deals with death, loss, maturity, all the big picture stuff and big boy pants storytelling in an action film that's unlike most. Combined with reference quality audio and video, and two exceptional supplements, at the very least it's worth viewing, and a solid addition to your library.