Film review – Logan (James Mangold, 2017)


Hugh Jackman is, in the superhero film world, a living legend. There has never been a single actor or actress that has achieved relentless success across so many different films in this genre, making a character his own and developing it into one of the big guns instead of just part of a team. Like the character Wolverine, the actor behind him seems like he’ll play the part forever.

And yet we come to Logan, a wisely-timed and fitting ending to the franchise and Jackman’s input into the character. It’s hard to believe it but this is the tenth time we’ve seen the character – seven X-Men films have now been made, along with three Wolverine-focussed standalone films. It seems impossible to think anyone will fill the role, meaning this could be the last time we see the character for many years, possibly ever.

It could well be the best superhero/mutant-hero film ever made.

Set in the world 2029, the film finds Logan worlds apart from his former self. Hiding out in a disused smelting plant in New Mexico, he is working as a chauffeur whilst hustling for prescription drugs for Professor X (Patrick Stewart), whom he lives with alongside Caliban (a surprisingly sincere Stephen Merchant). He is tracked down by a mysterious woman named Gabriella (Elizabeth Rodriguez) who is trying to get him to take a young mutant girl named Laura (the brilliant Dafne Keen) to specific co-ordinates in South Dakota before Transigen finds her to either kill her or take her back into their shady mutant development programme. The company, which we have previously glimpsed in X-Men: Apocalypse, is headed up by Zander Rice (Richard E. Grant), whilst they are hotly pursued by head of security and leader of the Reavers Donald Pierce (Boyd Holbrook).

Jackman reportedly took a pay cut to ensure this film received an R-Rating in USA. The result is certainly the most brutal cinematic portrayal of Wolverine yet, with no holding back on any of the gruesome details. It is certainly not a kids’ film. Jackman looks battle-worn from the start, the reasoning given that the adamantium is now poisoning his body and losing its regenerative abilities. His best cure is to drink alcohol, which may mask the pain but won’t cover the endless scars across his body.

The perfect muse for Jackman’s final turn as Logan is Patrick Stewart, reprising one last time his Professor X character. Now in the midst of a horrific battle with dementia, he struggles to keep control of his telepathic abilities. What is really interesting here is that it is a study of people at the end of their life who are losing their usefulness to society. Okay, this is shown in the most extreme manners when someone has superpowers, but the poignancy is still there for everyone to see.

To add extra emotional weight to the film, the young girl is revealed to be the kind-of-daughter of Wolverine, in that she shares some of his genetic make-up. In the greater comic book storylines she is X-23, who first appeared in 2003. Whilst not strictly his daughter, this is a clever plot device as it means the two characters are immediately drawn to one another, despite their tendency to mistrust those around them.

It may be masquerading as a film about mutants but this is so much more – a character-driven drama about old age and retirement.

Inevitably, the ending is upsetting, as we see our titular hero sacrifice himself to ensure the safe passage of his daughter. The final scene, especially the final shot, is absolutely perfect.

A fitting end to one of the greatest film characters of our time.

Film review – Green Room (Jeremy Saulnier, 2016)

From a fairly clunky and drawn-out start, Green Room quickly becomes a truly shocking horror film, made all the more horrific by a believable plot line and some relatable characters.

It delivers a lot in just over 90 minutes. Punk band The Ain’t Rights (including Anton Yelchin as Pat, Alia Shawkat as Sam, Joe Cole as Reece and Callum Turner as Tiger) are living food-to-mouth and on the edge of calling it quits due to lack of funds. A particularly bad gig in Seaside, Oregon leads to the promoter setting them up with a more lucrative performance in an out-of-town area of Portland. What they don’t know is that the gig is for a group of Nazi extremists, and when one of the band members witnesses the aftermath of a murder, things take a turn for the worse and a standoff ensues between the four band members (and another bystander Amber, portrayed by Imogen Poots) and the owners of the club, led by Darcy Banker (Patrick Stewart).

“Now, whatever you saw or did is no longer my concern. But let’s be clear, it won’t end well.” So says Patrick Stewart in an uncharacteristically sinister turn as Darcy. Despite a spine-tingling turn, it’s a character that never really shows his worth as a truly horrific antagonist, instead allowing some fairly useless goons to try and largely fail at his handy work. He’s got 100s of neo-Nazis under his thumb – but why? It would have been much more satisfying to get a taste of his evil mind.

Far more relatable are the four band members, who we join in this rollercoaster of misery and trauma. There are a couple of gruesome moments when the film starts to get really bloody, and it is in these moments that the film shows its excellence. Having successfully placed the viewers in the shoes of the band members, the film unravels into a slasher horror and there are some truly shocking moments to shake up the audience. What unfolds feels like a very personal experience despite being something that (hopefully) hasn’t happened to many people.

Imogen Poots is a fantastic actress, though her appearance some time into the film seemed like an after thought. Joining at a point where the band members were already well established is a factor they just about get away with, though I never really felt the same compassion as I did for the band themselves.

If you like your horrors slashy, then this will reward you. If horror to you is a CGI ghost in a mirror, then you may well be sadly disappointed.