LOGAN [Spoilers]: as Professor X’s health deteriorates Logan has to keep him – and the first new mutant in years – safe from all the bad guys. This is unlike any other big superhero film you’ve seen: grisly, balls-out, 15-rated (borderline 18!). There’s lots of “Fucks”, gratuitous boobs, and exploitation-level gore; with claws hacking up limbs & digging in to skulls etc. It’s also a film where the titular hero spends the majority of the runtime hobbling, coughing, and lumbering around like a broken man. Hugh Jackman and Patrick Stewart give an absolute masterclass in character and acting, supplemented by a star-making performance from Dafne Keen. I wouldn’t want to be the actor that has to follow Jackman when the inevitable X-men reboot goes ahead – after 17 years in the role, he is Logan. The action scenes are sparse, but next-level-superb throughout – the highlight being the first time were introduced to Laura (a 10 minute fight-chase). As for flaws, there are only a few minor ones: Stephen Merchant’s horrific accent brings you right out of the film; and it spends a bit too much time introducing and building some minor characters. One of the main criticisms leveled against this is that it’s too “depressing” or “downbeat”, which I assume came from the same people who would prefer to see robots leveling cities. Logan is a character-driven road-trip western film (that happens to contain superheros) rammed with pathos and peril – what’s not to love?! It’s brutal, dark, raw, emotional, and – for me – this is the new standard for ALL future Marvel / Superhero / Comic Book movies.
The Drop: when his bar is robbed on a ‘drop night’ – when illegal bookies stash their winnings for gangs to collect – a bar owner, and bartender need to figure out who’s ripped them off. This is a film that’s been designed to be a quiet slow-burner with sustained tension. It’s the kind of film where someone asking for directions or talking about a dog has multiple meanings and veiled threats. There’s a lot of additional detail thrown in to deliberately set up every character as being potentially dangerous, giving you just enough information about their life to explain their circumstances, and making them feel more authentic. The mood is carried expertly by a strong central cast – Hardy plays a blinder as a slightly simple bartender, Gandolfini was engrossing but because it was his last role it would have been good to see him doing something that wasn’t a ‘Soprano lite’ job. Rapace and Schoenaerts are also very impressive in their supporting roles. it’s so well made and acted that it reminds you of other ‘hefty’ films like Mystic River or Prisoners. The only couple of missteps were that the Chechen gangsters felt like they were straight out of Taken; and because it’s set in religious Brooklyn, the thick accents were a little bit iffy across the board. It’s clearly meant to be an actor’s piece, but when it’s this well-presented and finely tuned, you’ve got to tip your hat to director Michaël R. Roskam and Cinematographer Nicolas Karakatsanis. Despite being intensely low-key and a touch dreary, The Drop is ultimately a gripping character-driven crime drama, and I’m surprised there’s not been a bigger buzz about it.