Directed by James Mangold
Starring Hugh Jackman, Patrick Stewart, Dafne Keen, Boyd Holbrook, Stephen Merchant, Elizabeth Rodriguez, Richard E. Grant, and Eriq La Salle.
Logan arrives on home video in a Blu-ray + DVD + Digital HD release that also offers Logan Noir, a black-and-white version of this grim ‘n’ gritty film. The bonus features dig deep, with a commentary track by director James Mangold and a 76-minute making-of documentary.
I remember when grim ‘n’ gritty became all the rage in the comic book industry in the 80s. Sure, Batman had led the way in the 70s with some very Gothic-tinged storylines, and Marvel had flirted with it back then too by giving its characters some more grown-up problems, but the 80s was a time of Watchmen, The Dark Knight Returns, Batman: Year One, and other tough-as-nails comics.
That trend accelerated through that decade and into the 90s, and Marvel quickly caught up with DC in that regard. The X-Men in particular were put through the wringer many times, and Wolverine often bore the brunt of the brutalities unleashed on that team. (I can still remember that Uncanny X-Men cover with him crucified on a giant X.)
Then Hollywood finally got superhero movies right (by putting the right people in charge of the films most of the time), and now we’re in a world where the movies based on Marvel franchises lead the way while the DC cinematic universe has been choppy at best. Wolverine, as embodied by Hugh Jackman, was a guy who always played the “loner with a chip on his shoulder” role quite well, but he was typically toned down a bit in the X-Men movies and in his solo outings, like he was in the comics back in the 70s and 80s.
Fans wanted a Wolverine movie more in line with the darker comics of the past 20 or so years, and finally they received their wish with Logan. It’s not a perfect movie (more on that in a second), but it serves as a solid cinematic epitaph to the character’s journey on the silver screen. I won’t be surprised if someone else takes over the role in a few years and an alternate timeline is established (or perhaps they’ll fill in the years that were skipped over to reach the events in this film), but, for now, this is a fitting send-off for an iconic character.
Logan, set in 2029, features the character living on the edge of society. He drives a limo during the day and tends to a mentally dilapidated Professor X at night. He’s helped by the mutant tracker Caliban, who has turned away from his checkered past. Stephen Merchant plays Caliban and does an excellent job with a role that I wouldn’t have imagined him taking on, given his deep roots in comedy. (Yes, I know, many comedians have made the switch to drama.)
Logan’s vaunted healing powers are diminishing for a reason that’s not quite explained, and he’s content to live out the rest of his days trying to forget about his past. There are fleeting references to bad things that happened in Westchester, New York (home of Professor X’s school, of course), but much is left unexplained, which I liked. Superhero films tend to be very exposition-heavy, and Logan is a throwback to cinema of the 70s in many ways: We’re introduced to the characters and we’re given an inkling of something that happened in the past without the story coming to an abrupt halt to explain everything.
So that’s Logan’s life, and he’d prefer it remain that way until a woman and a young girl, Laura, cross his path. They need Logan’s help getting to North Dakota, and the woman only gets it when she waves some cash in his face.
Unsurprisingly, a group of mercenaries tied to the corporation that was doing experiments on the girl and her friends comes looking for the woman, and Logan is soon pulled into the fray despite his best attempts to stay out of it. He eventually takes a paternal liking to the girl, which leads to a tear-jerking ending that didn’t quite work for me. I would have liked to see more development in his relationship with Laura, although with the movie clocking in at over two hours, that would have required cutting something.
However, I appreciated director James Mangold’s desire to push the envelope with Logan, something he talks about in his commentary track when he notes how so many superhero movies tend to be “same ol’, same ol’” these days. The discussion is a good overview of how he approached the film, and it’s also featured in the Logan Noir version that also occupies a disc in this release.
Logan Noir is a black-and-white version of the movie. Like Mad Max Fury Road: Black and Chrome Edition, it’s not just the film with a switch flipped to a black-and-white setting. Mangold supervised the creation of the black-and-white version, which involved reworking the footage so it appeared as if it was originally shot in black-and-white. Ultimately, I think such efforts feel a bit gimmicky, but it’s still a presentation worth trying out, especially since it’s included here for no extra charge. You may prefer it to the color version.
Nearly eight minutes of deleted scenes are also included in this Blu-ray release (with optional commentary by Mangold), along with a nice in-depth making-of documentary that runs 76 minutes. While superhero movies on home video often skim the surface of how they were made, this one goes deep, covering the making of Logan from many angles. I appreciated that.
A code for a digital copy is also included, along with a DVD that has the movie and the commentary track.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★ ★ ★