Friday, March 24, 2017

Notes on Logan

Holy shit was that a good movie.

Apparently the only movies I'm making an effort for are Marvel comics or Star Wars. I did also see Arrival last fall, but that was as much about finding a group outing option as anything.

Logan is the second big action movie of the last 2 years clearly influenced by (or referencing) classic Westerns (the other: Mad Max: Fury Road). Shane is such a reference that the movie is beautifully displayed on TV in a hotel room during the trio of protagonists' journey. As with MM:FR, Logan is a chase movie, but it's also a "grizzled old man and feisty young girl" movie, a la Little Miss Sunshine or Paper Moon (movies specifically mentioned by director James Mangold).

It's also dark, deeply satisfying and a bit cathartic the way that Kingsman: The Secret Service felt cathartic nearly 2 years ago to the day.

If there's a complaint, it's that everything seems to be 10% to 15% more than was necessary. It could have lessened the length of the movie, the body count, the intensity of the fighting and viscera, and delivered a crisper movie. The movie goes at a solid and steady pace, it just feels bloated from time to time.

Still, solid work by director James Mangold, and the collection of writers (Mangold, Scott Frank, and Michael Green). The hair and make-up (especially the make-up, and especially the teeth) are fantastic; detailed, authentic but not showy. The production design is fantastic, a believable glimpse into the near future, the shiny and promising along with the decayed or decaying. The costume design was invisible (it didn't occur to me that there were costumes which is probably the hallmark of a good design)l visual effects and sound both solid.

Hugh Jackman continues to do really great work in the role of Wolverine. Patrick Stewart is as good as he's ever been (on par with his work in Jeffrey) and newcomer Dafne Keen is one of the best young performers I've seen in a long time (it reminds me of 1994/95 when Brad Renfro, Kirsten Dunst and Anna Paquin (and more, like the cast of The Little Princess and at least one other movie I'm not remembering all showed up giving really amazing performances). If I were planning an Oscar campaign for the movie I'm not sure whether I'd slot her for lead or supporting, but either way she's worthy of a campaign.

Stephen Merchant and Richard Grant do fine work in their respective roles. I was surprised to see Eriq LaSalle's name in the credits, and Boyd Holbrook, who I'd never seen before, is solid.

It's not quite Civil War-level excellence (possibly because of the body count, it's well into 3 figures), but it's really damn good.

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