Bristish or World Film
Title: Logan (2017)
Director: James Mangold
Logan follows the comic book hero of Wolverine (James Howlett) in his later years, specifically in 2029, as he attempts to hide Professor X in Mexico and shield him from those looking to find him. He now holds the job of a hearse driver, battles a heavy drinking problem, all while accepting that his self-healing power is dwindling. On the job, he encounters a young girl (Laura), who only speaks Spanish, whom he has been paid to drive to the Canadian boarder to escape a corporation looking to capture her and use her as a weapon. It is revealed the girl is James’s biological daughter which puts more pressure on him to ensure her safety and overcome his bitterness.
Although most would presume this to be a ‘superhero-film’ (if that can be called a genre), upon watching, I think most would say it fell into the Western style. Not only is this due to the direct references to Shane (1953) but also due to the clear transition of the Wolverine into the lone and mysterious saviour of Logan. It was this difference in style that I believe sparked the high praise in critics responses. Making use the archetypal extreme long shots of Westerns to showcase the Mexican and Canadian landscapes and the understated simplicity of the plot, Logan showed Marvel Studios making a clear decision to differentiate this film from it’s ongoing, intertwining universe. This was also showed to the distinctly muted colour palette, again mirroring classic Westerns, to contrast the typical hyperrealist, shiny primary colours of franchises such as The Avengers or Guardians of the Galaxy.
In terms of editing and camera techniques, Logan remained true to it’s genre and only seemed to stray from it’s conventions during the R-rated, fast paced, but beautifully choreographed fight scenes. These scenes created a sense of unity between the film and it’s X-men predecessors, however maintained originality due to the character of Laura doing most of the intense slashing. As in any hero story, many low angle shots are included to emphasise the protagonist’s size and power, but in this case they felt unwanted by Logan himself, as he, now, often purposefully distances himself from the fight. For instance, a scene in which a group of men threaten him with guns, instead of immediately raging and fighting, he snatches the gun and breaks it so the fight does not even begin. The line “Get the hell outta here” is framed in this typical low angled “hero shot” fashion but, again, seems to praise Logan’s new found moral heroism as appose to his previous physical endeavours.
Again, sticking within the realms of the Western, the soundscapes were often filled with wind or cicadas to highlight the empty surroundings. However, the music, in particular, was the ideal soundtrack for such a melancholy piece, with songs from Johnny Cash and Kaleo creating a soulful grit that perfectly complemented the story.
Overall, I believe Logan marks a standing point for Marvel as all comic book based films seemed to have something to prove after the disasters of Batman vs Superman and Suicide Squad. Instead Logan chose to move away from the confines of the ‘action’ film and experimented with conventions of a hero in both Logan and Laura (old and withering or female and non-English speaking). With lots of reviewers comparing Logan to the Christopher Nolan masterpiece, The Dark Knight, Marvel has shown that they can make truly great, mature and cinematic films that stand alone.