”Wolverine 3 goes R” was a story rushed out haphazardly quick following Deadpool’s smashing success. So what did we get for the trouble? The following:
- When Wolverine stabs somebody, blood actually comes out.
- The logical conclusion of doing Wolverine fight scenes without needing to censor them.
- LOTS of of F-bombs.
- Violence against children.
- A split-second half-shot of boobs from a nameless extra. (I think they just threw this in only because they wanted to do everything they could at least once.)
While the sudden change of rating seems really tacked-on and opportunistic at the time, they movie’s use of the R-rating turned out to be very methodical. Every item on that list save for the final one (full disclosure: I like boobs. A lot. But they’ve got bugger-all to do with the plot) are inseparable from the story.
And my goodness, that story.
The movie wearily oscillates between heavy themes and heavy violence, but the pacing fits the tone, which is that of classic ’80’s “the future sucks” Sci-Fi… though that’s only true for the main characters. The regular humans are doing just fine.
While the bleak way the past winds down is contrasted by hope for the future (which, as I was often told, is indeed constructed from children), their screen time is relatively minor. The more likely relief from Logan’s existential dread is a bit of laughter here and there. But just a bit.
Logan has superheroes, but it is not a superhero movie. It’s a bleak and intense drama, where a lot of old chickens have come home to roost: The Cure from X3 quietly became part of the mixture in GMO corn. The Weapon X program is revived to create a monopoly on mutants. And, with the weakening of his healing power, Wolverine’s adamantium-covered skeleton is poisoning him.
The highlight of Logan, though, isn’t Wolverine fighting the way he always should have with the messy results actually depicted (look, he’s the best at what he does, and what he doesn’t isn’t nice). It’s the performance of Patrick Stewart.
To say it hit me close to home would be an understatement.
An extremely old Charles Xavier with alzheimer’s is a scary prospect, given that he is far and away the most powerful telepath in X-Men continuity. And while his old and failing brain is key to the film’s tragic backstory, Stewart is uncomfortably good at playing a person deep into dementia. It’s an experience I know all too well, having front-row seats to two of my grandparents spending too many years suffering through it. If I follow in their footsteps there is no question I would take my own life in whatever fleeting moment of lucidity presents itself. So, yeah, understatement.
As for Hugh Jackman, he wears the role of Wolverine like a favorite jacket. And he wears world-weariness just as comfortably. He’s believable every step of the way.
I’m a bit split of Dafne Keen’s performance. It’s generally easy to figure out a child actor’s performance the second they start speaking. But in Logan, her character spends most of the movie silent or screaming. So I suppose we need to look into her eyes and expressions… but they put her in shades for more than half her screen time.
The villains are cookie-cutter and forgettable. What they’ve been doing is much, much more interesting than the people themselves. But while the main characters struggle on deeply personal levels throughout the movie, at no point does it really feel like the antagonists are getting personal.
Verdict: Go for it (4/5). It’s a heartfelt story, even if you prefer the ending of Days of Future’s Past.