By Sean Rhodes
I have been waiting for this movie to come out with the same intensity that folks have before a Justin Bieber concert. I watched each trailer about 30 times, and I’ll tell you I was not disappointed by this film. It was truly magical in a blood and guts dark thriller kind of way.
I have always been fascinated by the anti-hero character trope. An anti-hero is defined as a central character who does heroic deeds but may be bewildered, ineffectual, deluded or merely apathetic. More often, an anti-hero is just an amoral misfit.
Logan as a character is an anti-hero in my book. Through his reluctant heroism, he, in typical Logan fashion, is forced to deal with issues in ways that make the audience question his sanity and morality.
The opening of the movie is a “don’t poke the wolverine” esque scene where Logan is roused from slumber in the back of a limousine by several individuals trying to steal his tires. Logan then proceeds — after getting shot in the chest — to literally stab people in the face. It pretty much sets the tone for the whole movie — lots of face stabbing. The violence in this movie may seem over the top, and it kind of is with, given all the up close shots of Logan stabbing faces, but I felt it was oddly refreshing for them to go with an R-rated film for the long running series.
We are able to see Logan play gruff nurse/nanny to an aged Professor Xavier, which starts out funny, but gets very real, very fast. Their relationship, as portrayed throughout the film, is immeasurably deep.
There are a few mentions of their past together, however this isn’t a yearbook style movie with flashbacks and telling of past heroics. Logan and Charles push and pull against each other for the entirety of the movie.
The “seriousness” of the movie comes in large part from their shared vulnerability, expressed through physically traumatized bodies; Logan’s continual limp and slight cough for example, and the juxtaposition of Logan’s gruff nature with his tender treatment of the Professor through the Professor’s struggles.
His anti-hero disposition and tendency for face stabbing is offset not only by his care for the Professor, who very well may be his last friend on the planet, but also through his relationship with Laura, a young mutant escaped from a laboratory. This relationship brings out Logan’s emotional evolution during the movie. We see a nearly broken mutant — whose one friend is essentially dying — that has turned to alcoholism and apathy for the outside world but turns almost 180 degrees to come to love this child.
That doesn’t stop him from face stabbing though, and she also gets pretty face stabby in there too, so don’t be alarmed.
All in all, this movie surprised me with its depth. It isn’t deep in the way other movies are, it doesn’t have a political message or statement really, but there’s something about watching an indestructible hero from my childhood become destructible. Logan is in pain the whole movie, emotionally and physically, caring for his aged friend while trying, reluctantly at first, to save Laura. In doing so, he regains part of his humanity and feeling.
The balance between Logan’s inner demons, the relationship he, the Professor and Laura have and all the face stabbing makes a multi-layered action movie that has surprising depth and emotion. It is definitely one of my favorite movies of this year.