Short Cuts: LOGAN

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I lost track of how many Hugh Jackman Wolverine movies they’d made somewhere between 2009’s X-Men Origins: Wolverine and 2013’s just plain The Wolverine, and in the 17 years since it kicked off the superhero gold rush, the X-Men cinematic universe has expanded, split, and folded back on itself. But as one final berserker rage, this is satisfying for a good reason: it understands that, at a time when blockbuster heroes can get thrown through a wall without losing their breath, you can raise the stakes simply by making your characters vulnerable. Most comic book movies are bloodless in both the literal and poetic senses of the word, and Logan gets an emotional effect by showing you your favorite heroes as their bodies and minds deteriorate, not to mention the jarring feeling when they mix their old routines with words like “shit” and “fuck”. (It earns its R rating—I’m sure that aghast, confused parents abound). And this gets to the vagueness at the crux of the movie: Logan takes great pains to step outside its own franchise and say that the real world—or at least, the real world of Logan—isn’t like a comic book. In fact, it says so rather directly and repeatedly, and is littered with details of counter-programming: a no-superhero-names-allowed title, a stark setting, a small cast for a franchise that typically revolved around teamwork, an extended reference to the classic revisionist Western Shane (someone must have already written a think-piece comparing the two), a relatively minimal use of CGI spectacle, and lots of blood and dismemberment. But I’m not convinced that Logan really offers any true commentary or revision of the comic book movie. Its world isn’t any more “real” just because it throws around F-bombs and severed heads; all it does is swap one movie myth for another. (Howard Hawks for Sam Peckinpah, say). But as movie myths go, it’s an entertaining one. I’m sure someone involved played through The Last of Us.

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