May 25, 2017

Blu-Ray Review: LOGAN

Starring Hugh Jackman, Patrick Stewart, Dafne Keen, Boyd Holbrook, Stephen Merchant, Richard E. Grant, Eriq La Salle, Elise Neal, Elizabeth Rodriguez. Directed by James Mangold. (2017, 137 min).

LOGAN is also available on 4K Ultra HD, DVD and Digital HD.

For those of you too young to remember when the 'M' in MTV stood for music, MTV Unplugged was a series where the biggest rock stars of the day performed acoustically-driven concerts in a small intimate setting, without any flash, costumes, props, light shows or pyrotechnics to enhance their music.

Logan could be seen as a superhero version of MTV Unplugged, stripped clean of spectacle and bombast. Its titular character no longer has a costume, modus operandi or any particular desire to save the world. In fact, the fate of the world  isn't even at stake here.

"Guess who this month's centerfold is."
It's 2029. The world has changed, and not necessarily for the better. There aren't many mutants left, and it's suggested that most were eradicated. The old Wolverine (Hugh Jackman, in a career-best performance) is still around, grumpier, drunker and more cynical. Though ailing and unable to heal himself as fast a he used to, he's still capable of carving up enemies when necessary.

He has the added burden of caring for his old mentor, Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart), who's in even worse shape (his telepathic abilities have become more unstable and dangerous with the ravages of age). Within the film's first few minutes, we suspect their days are numbered, which apparently suits Logan just fine. He's been prepared - sometimes even wanting - to die long before Laura (Dafne Keen, whose winning performance equals her heavyweight co-stars) arrives to complicate things.

Another babysitter who probably won't be returning.
Laura's an 11-year-old genetically-created mutant with the same abilities - and temperament - as Logan (no great mystery why). She has escaped Transigen, a research lab where mutant children have been illegally created, and now they want her back. The bulk of film becomes a cross-country chase, with Logan reluctantly protecting her - and vise versa - as they head for Eden, a supposed mutant sanctuary that Laura learned about from an old X-Men comic book.

An overall sense of inevitability that runs throughout the film tends to render the story rather predictable, but in-no-way diminishes its emotional impact. That's because the plot - essentially a conflict-laden road trip - is secondary to real core of the film: its three main characters and their relationships with each other. Their evolution into a marginally functional family provides Logan's most joyous and heartbreaking moments.

It's been oft-mentioned the primary inspiration for Logan was classic westerns, which is obvious because one of the genre's most classic tropes - the remorseful antihero seeking redemption - is the most prevalent theme running throughout the film.

Much has also been written and said about Logan's highly touted R-rating, which it definitely earns, but that's not what makes it unique among the other X-Men films. Though it definitely fits comfortably within the franchise, it exists perfectly outside of it, as 'unplugged' superhero film with a story, mood and atmosphere so unlike any previous ones that it not-only transcends its own franchise, but the entire genre. Here, the Logan character is finally presented as the unfiltered antihero only hinted at in previous X-men films and Wolverine spin-offs.

Dark, violent and suitably poignant, Logan is, so far, one of the best films of the year, and a wonderful respite from all the biblical spectacle typical of the comic movie genre.

LOGAN NOIR - A black & white version of the film on a separate disc. Similar to the B&W version of The Mist, it enhances the already dark tone of the film.
"MAKING LOGAN" - A detailed, six-part making-of documentary
AUDIO COMMENTARY (by director James Mangold)
DELETED SCENES (with optional commentary)

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