Wednesday, June 07, 2017

[Movies] Flick Check: Logan

Logan is certainly the best of the X-men series, excluding Deadpool of course, because like the cheese, he stands alone. In his case, Velveeta. Probably.

Logan still has evidence of the X-men's most glaring issue, which is that it leans so heavily on class warfare and oppression for motivation. You see, Logan is set in 2029 and naturally everything is dystopian. In this dystopia, there is a wall between the U.S. and Mexico, separating the good-hearted oppressed from the evil oppressors. Greedy, power-hungry corporations run the U.S. with have their own paramilitaries and no sign of government or law to hold them in check. Our heroes' mission is to make it to Canada where they will be treated with tolerance and understanding. Basically, it's the fevered worldview of your standard Twitter/Reddit poster or Huffington Post/Buzzfeed columnist. People might argue that such a vision resonates with Millennials, or some key demographic that isn't me, and that the only reason I don't see it is because I am a grizzled, detached fuddy-duddy. Fair enough.

But compare this to the gold standard Avengers who want nothing but to Save the World rather than scold it. The Avengers drama comes from having the weight of trying to save the world on the shoulders of a group of people who know they need each other, but aren't really all that fond of each other. That's a personal story, a group dynamic story. How about an even more personal action film? John Wick doesn't care about tolerance. He doesn't even care about saving the world. You and everyone you know will get a bullet in the head because YOU STOLE HIS CAR AND YOU KILLED HIS DOG. I'll take personal motives over political poses in my drama every time.

Yet this why Logan is the best of the X-Men movies. Despite my rant, the cautionary dystopian blather takes a back seat to the characters. Gone are the X-Men who don't matter, which is all of them except Wolverine and Professor X. Honestly now, who really gave a possum's posterior about the others? They were cardboard.

And after setting up the whole class warfare dystopia to justify the fight scenes, the core of the movie comes down to those two characters, both aging poorly. Professor X in the throes of Alzheimer's provides some meat for Patrick Stewart to sink his teeth into. It's not the pitch perfect crazy old man we saw in Star Trek TNG's "All Good Things", but it beats the hell out of the soul crushing exposition he has been given in the previous films. Jackman for his part keeps up, although his character's emotional range tends to be angry-and-depressed or angry-and-violent, but he too is dying, evidently poisoned by his metal skeleton. Nobody here is terribly good at comedy, so attempts at light-hearted interludes are only marginally successful, but then it's not a lighthearted movie. In the end, over the course of the series, it is about two people who fought to death for something without achieving it. They know it, and see it, and even their final battle was merely to keep the status quo. After all their efforts and pain, they left the mutants in exactly the same place they entered, with an isolated, fragile sanctuary. It is as if their lives were for naught. The image of a futile future will likely resonate with the aforementioned hand-wringing demographic, also.

As for my view of the future, well, John Wick: Chapter 2 should be streaming soon...