Last night we watched Logan. We made a horrible mistake by watching the late showing because the theater was filled with rude teenagers. I need to watch my movies when the other old people watch them–in daylight hours!
The movie was very good. In trying to organize my thoughts, it is perhaps best that I just make a list.
1. The movie earned its “R” rating.
The violence is brutal. In other X-Men movies Wolverine tends to go for chest kills, but I’d say ninety percent of his kills here are either decapitations or head shots. The violence is comparable to a slasher horror film or the first thirty minutes of Saving Private Ryan. Seeing young children engage in violent activity was also disturbing to me.
The language is also strong. I think this is one of the weakest points of the film. The writers use F-bombs galore to communicate despair, anger, disappointment, and power. Smarter writing could have done that without resorting to this tactic. By contrast, other X-Men films have used strong language sparingly, which makes it more effective. The movie also has a rather gratuitous flashing of boobies.
2. The movie is not a super-hero movie.
If you come into this film expecting typical superhero fare, you’ll leave disappointed (like I think most of the teenagers we saw it with) because it is not that kind of movie. It is not about saving the world or even saving the day. The movie is about aging, dying, and the pain of regret as a person works through the knowledge they are past their prime. Logan’s character moves from one who has given up to one is faced with continuing to despair or to make a difference.
3. I loved the homages.
There are two specific homages that caught my attention. First, the use of X-Men comic books as as storyline was brilliant. These are not real world comics, but invented comics (as I understand it) for the movie universe. That X-Men comics exist in the X-Men universe is awesome. I perceive it to be a stand in for all the previous movies, with the hint that those stories were glamorized versions of what ‘really’ happened. This movie pretends to let us behind the curtain to see the nitty gritty of who these characters really are, the price they paid, and the tragedy of their existence.
The second homage is to the old western “Shane.” In fact, there are several scenes that reminds me of that old movie, besides the two overt references. One is a precious seen midway through the movie in a hotel room and the other is at the very end. I remember watching that movie with my grandmother many years ago, and I am remember showing it my daughters. They argued with me for days as to whether or not Shane died as he rode away. Of course he did.
4. The religious imagery is off the charts.
Despite its well earned “R” rating, the movie has intense spiritual references and imagery. In many ways Logan’s character is one who has lost his faith, and Professor X is the one who, despite his own difficulties, has been tasked with helping him on that journey. Woven into this tapestry of faith questions is the lingering mutant question–have human beings tampered with God’s creation so much that we have negated something he intended? In this scenario, mutants perhaps stand in as a metaphor for diversity and pluralism whereas corporations and governments seek to enforce uniformity and conformity.
Part of this is the title credits. Hang out and listen to the Johnny Cash song “The Man Comes Around” which is a very Christian song about the apocalypse. I expected the other Johnny Cash song, “Hurt” based on the trailer (which I have embedded below) but this was even more delightful.
5. Patrick Stewart might be nominated for Best Supporting Actor for this role.
Stewart is like wine and cheese. He gets better with age. To me he will always be Captain Picard. His best turn ever is The Inner Light, but here he is amazing. Uncanny, even.
6. There are may themes buried into this movie.
Look for generational change, cultural degradation,lawlessness, corporate oligarchy, immigration, lost childhood, genetic testing, GMO, and child exploitation. There are others, but these stand out. Usually in a movie this many subplots is pollution on the brain, but in Logan it works.
I think there is at least one more theme in addition to these. That theme is reconciliation. Logan must reconcile–with Charles, with himself, with the X-Men, and with his fate.