Thursday, 9 March 2017

LOGAN - Review By Greg Klymkiw - Dreadfully Directed Action Scenes Drag Picture Down

It sure would be nice to see this grizzled mug in a real movie.

Logan (2017)
Dir. James Mangold
Scr. Mangold, Scott Frank, Michael Green
Starring: Hugh Jackman, Patrick Stewart, Boyd Holbrook, Stephen Merchant,
Richard E. Grant, Dafne Keen, Eriq La Salle, Elizabeth Rodriguez

Review By Greg Klymkiw

Logan is the best X-Men movie ever made, but that's not really saying much since all of them have been pretty unwatchable to date. This "final" installment in the long-running film series based upon the Marvel Comics adventures of crime-fighting mutants has one big thing going for it - star Hugh Jackman.

Living in hiding as an anonymous limousine driver in Texas, our title character is slowly dying from the adamantium coursing through his veins. His ability to heal from wounds is seriously affected by this. He's caring for the dementia-riddled telepath Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart), who lives secretly in a dusty, rusting old factory just across the border in Mexico. Logan reluctantly becomes the chief protector of little girl Laura (Dafne Keen), a "wolverine" mutant just like he is. Pursued by the evil cybergenetic mutant Donald Pierce (Boyd Holbrook) and scumbag Transigen Corporation mad scientist Zander Rice (Richard E. Grant) and the mutant-tracking Caliban (Stephen Merchant), our three heroes hit the highways and byways of America in search of a mutant paradise called Eden (existing across the northern border in Canada, no less).

It's a road movie punctuated by several ultra-violent set pieces.

Cute little girl a baby Wolverine with deadly moves.

The picture isn't really any good - the action scenes are all directed mostly in closeups and medium shots with far-too-much herky-jerky camera moves and ADHD-infused editing and the script defies the most basic logic of the premise it sets up. Since Logan is all too aware that they're being meticulously tracked, it seems especially dopey that he allows himself, the old man and little girl to hunker down with an innocent farming family for an evening on the road to Mutant Mecca.

Surely he knows deadly harm will come to the family - and, of course, it does.

There isn't a single unpredictable moment in the whole narrative. Given the overwhelming portent of co-writer and director James Mangold's mise-en-scene, it's also obvious that Logan and Xavier are doomed. Given that it's a superhero movie and that more sequels and/or a reboot are just around the corner, it's also obvious that the little girl and a whole whack of her mutant kidlet friends will beat the bad guys and make their way to asylum in Canada.

The predictability factor in movies like this goes without saying, so it seems silly to dump on Logan just for that. What can receive a nice smelly turd-release is that the movie fails as a decent rollercoaster ride since Mangold simply has no talent for staging action scenes - all of which are a total mess. Given the astonishing craft of action movies like John Wick and its sequel, when will the studios realize they need to hire directors who know how to direct action? The math on this is pretty simple - long shots, longer takes, first-rate stunt work, a solid sense of geography and edits that are "story" influenced, not merely kinetic.

Well, the math might be simple, but it takes the cinematic equivalent to Einstein to pull it off with aplomb (something Mangold is bereft of). Not that previous X-Men helmsman Bryan Singer is God's Gift to cinema, but even he has certain basic skills to carry this sort of thing off with a relative degree of competence. What Singer lacks is anything resembling a distinctive voice. Mangold, for better or worse, has one - his pictures all have a dreariness to them that borders on, interesting (not really a compliment), but which tends to have some effect in his chamber pieces like Cop Land, his 3:10 To Yuma remake and even his first foray into X-Men territory The Wolverine. He's kind of like Christopher Nolan, but with far less in the way of pretension (and unlike Nolan, he occasionally displays something resembling a sense of humour - a bit dry, but it's there at least).

Logan does, however, have the estimable Hugh Jackman at its core. Jackman has genuine star power. The camera loves him and he's a much better actor than most of his films allow him to be. And Good God, the man is aging beautifully. Clint Eastwood has thirty years on the guy, but Jackman is giving that delicious old coot a decent run for his money in the brawny decrepitude department.

Someday, Jackman will star in a real movie. Maybe he will even play Clint Eastwood's son or baby brother someday. I look forward to that movie.


Logan is in wide release via 20th Century Fox.