39. Logan

Logan ends with over-the-top action – commandos, leaping mutants, and superpowers like ice breath and telekinesis.

Six months before Logan came out, a photograph of the first page of its screenplay was released online, probably so people could read this: “Basically, if you’re on the make for a hyper choreographed, gravity defying, city-block destroying, CG fuckathon, this ain’t your movie.”

They promised a good movie, not just a good comic-book movie.

(Context: Logan, aka Wolverine, has metal claws and super healing, and is the greatest X-Man. Hugh Jackman has played him eight times.)

Three Mexicans try to kill Logan and steal his car in the first scene, attacking with guns and a crowbar. The fight is dirty. Logan stabs through heads and severs limbs.

Logan repeatedly references the 1953 film Shane, archetype for the story of a mysterious stranger riding into town to rescue peaceful people from fiendish oppressors. We’re in the future, though, 2029, so add a sci-fi sheen. Logan, reluctant hero, is old and in pain and angry about his past. His friends are dead for unexplained reasons, and he meets more death in the second act after helping a farmer fight corporate goons. Logan, through these scenes, is a throwback to great old movies, with its own nasty twists and claw violence.

But the gritty-western ethos is shit upon when Logan switches from interesting into yet another effects-laden chase/battle. There is gravity defiance, Logan even takes drugs to jump farther. And a city block may not get destroyed, but superkids use powers to fight and it looks stupid.

The graphic novel Old Man Logan does the western stuff better – he begins as a farmer who renounced violence – and features fights against Spider-Man’s granddaughter, Red Skull, and the Hulk. It proves that dark authenticity and comic-book action can mix.

Despite countless villains from decades of Wolverine comics, the toughest foe in Logan is a cheesy clone. Why not a scrappy Sabretooth brawl at the end, something rough and tough that keeps the screenplay’s promise?

Logan lied. If you’re on the make for true grit, this ain’t your movie. Not quite.

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