Saturday, April 15, 2017

We Agree: Logan

2017, James Mangold (The Wolverine) -- cinema

For over five years (geez dude, we forgot to do a 5 Year Anniversary Post) I have been struggling to come to terms with how I write for this blog. Movie reviews? Blog posts about pop culture? Personal anecdote strewn stream of consciousness writing? A bit from all columns A, B and C ? I constantly waver back and forth between taking it seriously and doing some solid research & study on non-fiction writing and movie reviews, and sticking to my tenaciously amateur which is how I often identify myself in my endeavours. I am yet to find my proper voice.

I suspect Mangold felt the same way about Logan, the man and the character. He directed the bloodless and almost heartless 2013 The Wolverine, the story which draws upon one of the seminal story lines in the character's history. It was not a movie that should have had a PG rating, but on its own, it had at least a stylish feel to it.  As long as you didn't expect it to be faithful. I felt he was trying to tell his story of Logan, not really caring about previous movies or source material. In fact, I wonder now whether he even knows anything about the sources, based on some interviews I read.

This one draws, and is apparent from the get go, the current version of Wolverine in the comics, Old Man Logan. But other than an inspirational near-future story, and a grey haired, scarred version of Wolvy, the source material is dispensed with. Again, I feel Mangold comes into this project with someone else's script, someone else's story but his own idea of how to present it. In this case, I was completely onboard, because, as Kent said, "The studio gave The Wolverine director James Mangold and Jackman carte blanche to tell whatever story they wanted to tell, however they wanted to tell it." And an R-Rating.

So, this movie is both the Jackman Logan and the bloody, fully bestial Wolvy from the comics -- finally. This Wolverine kills people, blades slicing into chests and heads with abandon, jumping from kill to kill. But not without regret. He knows what he is, and it is that knowledge that has led him to where he is -- a drunken limo driver working the seedy side of town, letting the poisonous nature of his own skeleton finally take him down, while completely immersed in self-interest and self-loathing. The comic Old Man Logan had been responsible for the deaths of all the X-Men, but this Logan just seems to have survivors guilt, being the last man standing in a world he can no longer even pretend to be part of.

The movie also draws in Wolvie's successor, X-23. She is the DNA daughter of Logan, a clone made from his genetic material in a lab in Mexico City. And she was also grafted with adamantium skeleton and claws. It is his awareness of her that forces Logan back into the fray, as she escapes the confines of her creators and he has responsibility hoisted onto him. Its not familial, despite the aging, doddering Professor X calling her Logan's daughter, but soon that connection, that little bit of humanity is something Logan clings to.

But, again as Kent said, this is not a light hearted movie. There is very little levity, very few moments of reprieve from the dread and depression Logan feels. This is not a superhero movie. But it is deeply satisfying to see the Wolverine unleashed, but also handled with such sympathy. I like the Jackman Logan, I like his sincerity in playing the character and letting him age along with his own body. And, as a swan song to the character in the current timeline of movies, this was a bittersweet bit of brilliance.