Movie Review – Logan
By: Mish Ondersteund
Logan is an allegory of the mayhem and destruction that can be brought on a man’s life and family by alcohol addiction. This in depth study through the art form of movie making further explores the ongoing consequences of refusing to recognise and deal with the addiction. Thanks are also given to Ford for sponsoring this important work. Their philanthropic efforts are to be applauded.
The opening scene finds Logan, who we discover has adopted the pseudonym of James, is asleep in his car after yet another all night bender on the turps. The director skilfully uses the imagery of a gang trying to steal his wheels as a picture of people trying to help Logan remove the addiction from his life. His reaction is one so sadly seen in many alcoholics, instead of allowing the help to come and embracing it, he rejects it by shoving claws into their heads. This deftly sets the mood for the rest of the film as we see Logan trying to live his life as a limousine driver attempting to make ends meet while caring for his elderly father, daughter and vampire friend.
Director James Mangold manages to seamlessly weave multiple characters into the gripping storyline in an expository tour de force that leaves one questioning how society deals with this ancient problem. Firstly, there is Logan’s elderly father, who now being old and frail is totally dependent on his son for sustenance and medical supplies. Logan keeps him locked away in a disused water tank and keeps his contact to a minimum so he can avoid the shame of being seen in his ever-speeding downward spiral. Caliban is an out of work vampire who hangs around and assists Logan with helping his father. Like the other people in his life and in line with his traditionally friendly vampire disposition, Caliban tries to help Logan, but like all the others he finds himself on the end of his wrath. When the outreach comes Logan swats the hand of love and instead grabs the bottle.
The saddest victim of all those in Logan’s life is his young daughter Laura. In her short life she has watched her father’s alcoholic outbursts so often her mind is broken and mixed up to such an extent that she has adopted his violent ways even without the use of alcohol herself. At an early point in the film we are introduced to Laura and her mother, Gabriela. The couple are estranged and Logan is in such a state that he doesn’t even recognise her when she approaches him. Gabriela has to adopt an elaborate ruse to get Logan to even come and see his own daughter and in effect trick him into spending time with Laura. In heart wrenching scenes we see Logan’s father introducing Laura to Logan whose alcohol muddled mind refuses to remember or acknowledge her.
As the story progresses, side characters are introduced in the form of paramilitary operatives who serve as proxies for attempts at medical intervention to help Logan in his addiction. The results are the same as previously portrayed with Logan’s rejection of help being displayed as sticking his claws into people’s heads. In tandem with Logan’s demise his daughter also begins to display violence to those around her by cutting off people’s heads and sticking her foot claws into people’s necks. The blood-drenched imagery serves as a poignant reminder of the carnage wrought on those who try to help those who won’t be helped. Laura’s confusion highlights how difficult it is to recognise friend from foe when your loved ones have in fact become your enemy and strangers trying to help, are unrecognised friends.
The family embark on a road trip in the misguided belief that a change in surroundings will translate into a change in the inner man. As is so often the case, the situation gets worse with Logan and his daughter continuing to lash out at those they encounter. This even extends to attacking horses in a float travelling down the highway. A situation that’s only resolved with the timely intervention of the elderly father who is so used to sorting out his son’s mistakes. Mangold again introduces additional characters in the form of a kindly family who offer assistance even though their horses were attacked by the protagonists. This kindness even extends to taking the decimated family into their own home and allowing them to stay.
A brilliant plot device allows us to see inside the mind of the alcoholic as Logan imagines himself to be outside of his own body and removing the people in his life who he’s constantly hurting. So desperate is he to be free from the nightmare of his own making, for which he will not accept help, that he imagines killing his father, the people who helped and then finally giving up his daughter for adoption to strangers.
The story continues to develop the theme of mutual destruction for the man and all those around him. Eventually Laura begins to take matters into her own hands and seeks help among an alcoholic family survivors group. The group are displayed as children, further accentuating that the main damage done in these horrific situations is the young. Logan’s decent into self destruction continues when a wayward member of the survivors group offers him steroids to artificially help him overcome the debilitating effects of the alcoholism. Predictably, this only has a temporary effect and Logan’s rage only grows more intense as his body begins to force reality upon him with all its deadly consequences. In a final intervention showdown all the medical help in the world cannot help, with Logan’s internal duality coming to the fore as he simultaneously attacks and defends those around him. In the finale Logan is presented as killing himself as a result of his struggle, both wanting escape through death but desperately wanting to reconnect with his daughter.
This problem is a scourge on humanity and James Mangold does a wonderful job presenting this through the art medium of film. Logan is the archetype of the man who will not accept help or recognise addiction and the associated destruction in his life. Oftentimes people cannot drag themselves out of this self-imposed tomb and need others to come alongside and give assistance. The key is recognition of this and accepting help when it comes your way.