'Logan' Is Violent, Bleak, and Satisfying

20th Century Fox

This Friday, Logan premiered at the Berlin Film Festival, commonly known as Berlinale. As the world premiere of this third and final installment in the Wolverine trilogy began in Germany, critics filed their reviews. The consensus: This film is a fitting conclusion, with just the right mix of action, heart, and despair. It draws heavily from American Westerns, and the borderland scenery in Logan, complete with empty spaces and ramshackle abodes, creates an atmosphere that’s at once evocative and seamless.

Logan is set in 2029, when there aren’t many mutants left. Logan is living near the U.S.-Mexico border, and he looks a bit worse for wear. His adamantium bones aren’t aging well. That, coupled with heavy drinking, shows the audience that he’s not doing great. Professor Xavier, meanwhile, is living in Mexico in an overturned water tower, and he’s going senile. The albino mutant Caliban cares for him, but the professor experiences seizures that affect anyone in his vicinity. A new character has shown up for this film: Laura, known as X-23, is the first mutant born in decades. Logan takes her under his clawed wing, in a trope we’ve seen in movies like The Professional and Shane. Critics say that despite this familiar story element, Logan succeeds in not being corny.

According to critics, the action scenes are far between, and as Owen Gleiberman writes for Variety, that makes them even better. “Each time the violence explodes, it’s slashingly satisfying, because it’s earned,” he writes, “and also because Mangold knows just how to stage it.” Gleiberman points out that this slower pace mirrors our hero’s physical and emotional state. He also notes that, while Logan manages to feel much more like a well-rounded drama than your typical superhero film, it may suffer by leaning too heavily on its inspirations. “With its hero suggesting a broken-down cousin to Mad Max, it’s like The Road Warrior meets Shane meets Terminator 2: Judgment Day.”

Robbie Collin writes in The Telegraph that Logan lives up to its promise as an adult superhero film. “This paranoid, punishingly violent noir western is the real, shotgun-toting, limb-lopping deal.” In the film, Logan laughs wryly at old X-Men comic books, calling them exaggerations. Paralleling this sentiment, Collin points out that Logan feels so gritty and sincere that, in this fictive world, it feels like the earlier Wolverine films were also merely films in comparison.

If you’re reading this and thinking that Logan will just be a soul-crusher, fear not. Critics say that it doesn’t pander with fan service, but it is definitely a crowd-pleaser. “For fans who are intimately versed in the franchise’s playbook (and the comic-book source material),” writes Sheri Linden for The Hollywood Reporter, “this chapter should prove emotionally satisfying.”

The film premieres in the United States on March 3.

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