So far almost every X-Men movie has been a Wolverine movie. Even in the prequels he’s cameoed, and he’s certainly front and center of the team movies and his own spinoffs. That’s kind of a bummer if you’re more of a fan of the other X-Men, but if any of the other sequels could have been as distinct as Logan, I would have been a Wolverine fan much earlier.
The time is perfect for the first R-rated Wolverine movie. The first X-Men was 17 years ago, so everyone who began with the franchise is now old enough to see Logan, and the rest will get their parents or older siblings to buy them tickets. Even 1990’s Darkman or ’94’s The Crow are tame compared to Logan. The ‘90s are apropos because casting Richard E. Grant as the villain seemed very old school ‘90s in a way I appreciate too. Really the only ‘90s movie where he played the villain was Hudson Hawk but because of that I’ll always associate him with ‘90s villains.
Logan is way bloodier than Deadpool, yet still artful in the way The Raid movies turn rhythmic stabbing into a brutal ballet. It’s not just about making a violent Wolverine movie. There are no restrictions on language, so Charles and Logan can talk to each other like people who’ve known each other for 30 years (longer in Charles’ case because he knew Logan before he lost his memory). So they use the F word showing there’s no pretense. They’re calling each other on their B.S., and for Charles to say it shows even he’s too grizzled to care about proper diction anymore. There’s even some good natured gratuitous nudity like R-rated movies used to have. The woman doesn’t care, Logan certainly doesn’t care, it’s almost like it’s saying you shouldn’t care but here it is.
Kids being brutal is even ballsier than letting Wolverine stab people in the head. It is important to show that children are as capable of violence as adults, but also the adults created them this way so doesn’t let them off the hook.
Logan’s fights with Weapon 24 achieves what a few lesser blockbusters have attempted. Both the visual effect and the choreography of the fights are much more engaging than other films that attempted similar confrontations. Mangold also uses visual effects in the way I’ve been imploring filmmakers to for years. He shows the visual effect sparingly, rarely full frontal, and still uses good old fashioned editing and cleverly obscured shots to create the illusion. That’s the magic of cinema. It’s not painting whatever you want with CGI. It’s creating a series of moving images that let you know you’re seeing something unbelievable, while hiding the seams that show you where it’s fake.
The only unbelievable effect was when they watch a movie in a Harrah’s hotel room. No hotel TV has a picture that clear in the correct aspect ratio. For reality’s sake, they should have had the movie play stretched, cropped and with motion smoothing turned on. Even if you say that hotels in 2029 finally calibrate their TVs correctly, I don’t believe you.
Logan shows that the X-men franchise could be more like the Alien and Mission: Impossible franchises where each film has a different tone. Matthew Vaughn certainly gave X-Men: First Class a different feel, but the return of Bryan Singer has steered it back to where it began, which is fine for consistency. Here you have James Mangold making a tonally different film even from his own previous Wolverine movie, and different from the other R-rated X-men movie. Jokey was appropriate for Deadpool, but Logan shows there’s even colors within the R-rated superhero genre. My hope is that X-Men will blossom with variety in the future. Unless Mangold wants to do an R-rated Magneto movie. I would totally see that.