Friday, March 23, 2018
A month at the movies #21: Logan
The last Wolverine film (until the next one) takes place in a brutal and uncaring near-future, and shows just how brutal it can be in the first few minutes, when Logan pops the claws and starts stabbing some poor bastards in the head when they shoot him and try to steal his ride.
It's impressively nasty, but that leaves the movie with nowhere else to go when it comes to violent action, and every scene that follows features the same kind of action, over and over. Eventually, it all ends with Logan running through a forest, shrugging off gunshots and stabbing some poor fuckers in the face, which is what he has been doing in these X-films for a long time.
Even with the addition of a nasty doppelganger, there is no escalation and no anticipation. It all becomes a bit of a slog.
Action films need to be properly paced - you can't just blow your wad at the start. You need to build things up, and you need to have some kind of pay-off. If it's all the same tone, it's a boring-ass song.
Even films with some phenomenal individual action scenes can become blase - John Wick 2 has all sorts of crazy fighting and gunplay going on, but nothing really matches the opening scene and its car-fu craziness. Fatigue sets in somewhere around the time Mr Wick is fucking about in the tunnels under Rome, and it never really recovers.
The action choreography in Logan isn't anything like the balls-out efforts of John Wick, and doesn't have much idea of what to do with the claws, once they're out.
Weirdly, one of the main source materials for the Logan script - Mark Millar and Steve McNiven's Old Man Logan comic - does actually have some great pacing going on. While it's as typically nasty and weightless as most of Millar's comics (and I say that as somebody who loves Millar's work), one of the main points of that comic is that Logan won't use his claws, no matter how much he is beaten down. But when he is pushed too far, the claws come out in a gloriously over-the-top two-page sound effect, and the story goes into a higher gear for its gratuitous climax, in a way the movie never does.
The Logan of the recent film doesn't have anything like that kind of release, it's just face-stabbing from the start. While the film-makers could argue that the emotional stakes of the ending add to the intensity, it's nothing worth going feral over.