Berlinale 2017: Mangold's 'Logan' is an Excellent Wolverine Western
by Alex Billington
February 18, 2017
Let's make this clear right at the start - this is not another Marvel Studios movie. Logan is a stand-alone, outstanding, one-of-a-kind X-Men movie made for adults. It's violent as all hell, emotional and captivating, gritty and grounded, and exciting to experience. Director James Mangold really hit a home run with this one, bucking the trend and going with his gut to deliver a superb "Wolverine Western". I had to see Logan twice at the Berlin Film Festival before writing this review, to confirm how awesome it is. I haven't enjoyed watching an X-Men movie this much in such a long time, and I'd say this is easily one of the best X-Men movies. It's not really an X-Men movie, but it actually is - there's so much mutant mythology hidden within.
Logan is, at its core, a very simple movie about a weathered man who has been through hell and back. He's watching over the only other person he cares for - an aging man who was the first to rescue him years ago. He learns he has a daughter he never knew about, and struggles to learn to care for her amidst all the chaos in his life. Hugh Jackman returns for his ninth (and presumably final) time as James Howlett, aka Logan, aka Wolverine. He's joined by Patrick Stewart as Charles Xavier, whose mind is falling apart as he gets older. Newcomer Dafne Keen plays X-23, a young mutant girl whose fate brings her right to Logan. And of course there's the various villainous people who want to control the mutants chasing after all three of them.
Pardon my French, but – Logan is so fucking awesome. I still can't even believe how amazing it is. It makes me so happy that it turned out this good. The action is extraordinary, even better than the action in John Wick: Chapter 2 (at least I think it is), seriously brutal and totally badass. This movie is more violent and bloody than any other superhero movie we've seen before. Heads roll, limbs fly, claws slash and stab, poking bloody holes in mercenaries left and right. There's so many F-bombs, and it's such a relief to see a movie where they don't have to hold back just to get a PG-13 rating. It's exciting to see what they can do with a superhero story when they actually get to make a movie where characters let loose and say what they want.
On top of all the violence, this is one of the first X-Men movies where the comics are actually referred to and shown in the movie. Finally! And they're not shown in a cheesy way, or in way that makes you roll your eyes. Logan references the comics as trash, as some fantasy that doesn't actually reflect reality (meaning all the other events that occurred in the previous movies). There's other references hidden in the dialogue that are sprinkled in so carefully, yet with such an impressive understanding of this universe. This is all part of what makes Logan such an outstanding X-Men movie - even though it's still a movie about Wolverine, it's also a movie about mutants, and everything they've gone through. And the final shot wraps it up in a perfect way.
I mean it when I say that Logan is one of the best films of this year's Berlin Film Festival. Mangold stuck to his guns and made a movie that is an homage to classic westerns, yet is also something unique and exciting on its own. I could go on and on talking about it and how much there is to admire. It's set in the year 2029, but it's not really a sci-fi movie, even though there are a few sci-fi touches here and there that make a sci-fi geek like me even happier. There are a few political nods as well, the kind that make you realize Mangold is smart as hell. It's also a very emotional story, and you may find yourself wiping away a few tears. Mangold has set a new precedent with this, and it's up to Hollywood to see if they can live up to Logan from now on.
Alex's Berlinale 2017 Rating: 9 out of 10
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