Day 244: The Man and the Last Cowboy in Texas; ‘Nuance’

How crazy is this, y’all? A movie review that might actually be helpful for a recent movie! I saw Logan in theatres on opening day with a friend on her birthday. No usual three week lag here.

Logan Header

I didn’t like Hugh Jackman as Wolverine when it all started. I saw the first X-Men movie in 2000 and I thought he was too rough around the edges, too wild. The first four iterations in the X-Men film series were all to me, catastrophically abysmal. X-Men, X-2: X-Men United, X-3: The Last Stand, and X-Men:Origins Wolverine were all terrible movies and for the most part, I blamed Hugh Jackman.

Aside from a few other majorly integral parts (Sir Patrick Stewart as Professor X, Sir Ian McKellen as Magneto), Hugh Jackman was the only one to stick with the series through the entirety of its identity crisis, and, thankfully, eventual successful rebirth starting with X-One Last TimeMen: First Class. And I’m so glad he did. What I have come to realize is that the reason why Hugh Jackman and his particular Logan character stuck out so prominently in my mind and drew so much of my ire is because he was a strong presence. Too strong in weak movies with weak counterparts. I thought I despised him for disrupting the order and discipline of James Marsden’s leadreship as Cyclops. I wanted to blame him for the disastrously misguided romance with Famke Janssen’s Jean Grey. The truth is, what we were really watching was the attempts and efforts of a very strong and capable and independent character trying to break completely free and escape from the banality of these weak, PG-restricted Degrassi-fied superhero movies. (I only had to suffer through Famke Janssen’s god-awful parenting in Taken to fully cement how much I despise her characters.)

Hugh Jackman and Logan have been trying to find their natural habitat for a very long time. He has brought as much action and grit and violence and true reality to the X-Men movies as he possibly can but he’s constantly been constrained and restricted by ratings and audiences. I’ve no doubt he’s had an incredible time playing the toughest baddest rootin’ tootin’est mutant in the West ever, but he’s really been wanting to flesh out his character and give him some real life.

Logan finally gives him that chance to shine and god, what a spectacle it was. This is the Wolverine we’ve been waiting for. The kind of Dark Knight re-envisioning that puts real weight and humility into a superhero.

I don’t want to give too much away here. The movie deals with the excesses of superheroes and mutants in such a light but effective way that really it would be misleading to frame this in much the same way as its predecessors. This is truly a movie to stand on its own and to appreciate on its own merit. For those who want it to fit into and tie in with the rest of the series’ canon, rest assured that it does, though it doesn’t insist upon doing so nor does it apologize for its position. Just remember folks, I’m totally fine with it, but you asked for this to be in your timeline.

Logan is not-so-surprisingly grim and heavy, but what is surprising is how oddly…refreshing it feels amidst the lineup of either way too serious or way too silly superhero movies. It’s a fine balance between the suddenly overly-dramatic Power Rangers and way too casually silly ‘we’re saving the universe here people’ Guardians of the Galaxy XMen ComicsVol. 2. James Mangold is no stranger to Wolverine’s story, having directed The Wolverine back in 2013. Nor is he new to the world of the gritty country and western feel of Logan. He directed both Walk the Line and 3:10 to Yuma. But I mean, like, he also directed Knight and Day and Kate and Leopold so really, I don’t know what this guy knows. I do know that this movie feels and looks unlike any superhero film out there. And I think this is important. Logan is not, for better or for worse, an actual superhero film. Hugh Jackman is not a superhero. There is no outfit. There is no call or cry for help. There really even isn’t a supervillain, per se. Oh, and I thought this was hilarious, this isn’t even some post-apocalyptic wasteland either. Despite what the trailers might have you believe, it’s just Texas. Not even like, post-war Texas. Just Texas. And it’s only like thirty years in the future. Texas just looks that bad.

Yes there are a good number of action sequences, but don’t let this fool you into taking this at face value as another action movie. This is about much more than that. It’s about the unbearable weight of hope versus the unstoppable force of time and indifference. It’s about being very much mortal and wrestling that mortality with the responsibility and ability to contribute. No one wants to be who they are, where they are, or in the circumstances they find themselves in. But somehow someway Logan finds ways to give these characters hope and purpose in a world that frankly, has no time or room for people like that anymore. It’s a powerful message, one very much relevant right now. Right now it is becoming increasingly more important for the collective small voices, who on their own are insignificant and not worth considering, to face the tempting luxury of indifference and ignorance and rise against much more powerful forces.

And please don’t forget, this is not a kids’ movie. Logan earns every bit of its R rating. It is the only way to truly effectively portray this honestly incredibly powerful tribute, salute, and eulogy to one of the best personifications of a character I have ever seen over a 17 year long run. Hugh Jackman truly has been the Wolverine for longer than some people have been themselves. He has hinted to the possibilities of reprising his role in future movies provided they continue to allow him this room for pain and grit and struggle. Logan finally feels like home for the Wolverine we’ve seen running wild and searching for so long. Logan is not afraid to be very real with how it treats its characters nor does it shy away from the pain and the loss. So no, in terms of action or heroes, this is not that movie. It isn’t full of easter eggs and fun nods to other series or teasers for the future. It isn’t a collage of ‘who would it be fun to see’ like past movies rushing to fill in as many loved characters as possible. Aside from its characters, it doesn’t have the nuances of the mutant films of the past. Logan is, very much like the Wolverine itself, a lone wolf running parallel to the pack. And one of the greatest endorsements for this movie that I can give, is that when it was done, a young mother with an even younger child, turned to me during the credits in a face of shock, and said ‘I’m a terrible parent’. Well yeah, lady. This ain’t your kid’s superhero film anymore.

Bad Parent

Day 244

Man: 211 Loneliness: 33

17 thoughts on “Day 244: The Man and the Last Cowboy in Texas; ‘Nuance’

  1. I haven’t seen Logan yet, but you perfectly described the first X-Men films. Whatever the most recent two were, I don’t even know anymore, one I fell asleep and the other I didn’t see for fear of falling asleep. I don’t know if this gritty style is my kind of film so I’m waiting for the blu-ray.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Pingback: Why be a rabbit? Be a snake. | Trash of Pi

  3. YES. Perfect. Great. Excellent.

    Although take back what you said about Guardians being too silly. I love it that silly. Rocket is my kindred spirit. I don’t want any of that grim tortured hero stuff in my Guardians movie!

    ….And I won’t comment on power rangers. Or TMNT.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Right? Right? Right? It was like DC took a break to make a Marvel movie. LoL. That was a bad joke. After The Dark Knight, this one runs in so close to my top superhero films. It is just so great! And that final shot! And that eulogy! Tsk. Couldn’t find the link, though.

    Liked by 1 person

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