By Jack Dignan
It all started seventeen years ago. The original Bryan Singer directed X-Men hit theaters, met with praise from both fans and critics alike and kicking off a career for the show stealing actor behind the iconic character of Wolverine, Hugh Jackman. Six performances and two unforgettable cameos later, Hugh Jackman is putting to rest his most beloved character. Logan sees Jackman taking on the role for the ninth and final time, giving the grumpy, silver clawed anti-hero the sendoff he deserves. While previous solo Wolverine movies have been somewhat of a mixed bag, the best has been saved for last. Ladies and gentlemen, you’re not going to want to miss this.
Set in its own, confined timeline, separate to the rest of the X-Men universe and thankfully devoid of all continuity mishaps, Logan sees the end of mutant kind as we know it. It’s been decades since the last mutant was born, Wolverine (Hugh Jackman), now only going by Logan, having given up the mantle a long time ago. He works as a limo driver, drinking himself to death despite knowing that his healing factors make that physically impossible. He’s old. Time has run out for him, the same being said for Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart). The two find themselves hiding out on the Mexican border, raising money in the hopes of moving on to a better life. But like the good old days, complications soon arise.
What begins as a futuristic western, shot masterfully by Oscar nominated cinematographer John Mathieson, soon transcends into a chaotic inconvenience for our weary, frail protagonist. Logan and Charles encounter a young girl named Laura (Dafne Keen). While her origins remain mysterious, she soon reveals her true self, sporting adamantium claws almost identical to Logan’s. The game is afoot as Pierce (Boyd Holbrook), a slick talking, singlet-wearing man with a robot hand, comes after Laura with everything he’s got. Time is against Logan as he’s forced to take Laura to a supposed save haven across the border, bringing Charles along with them.
We are currently living in the Golden Age of comic book movies, the genre dominating the box office year after year, and it doesn’t seem to be slowing. As a comic book fan, it’s a dream come true. So many stories and characters have been brought to life that didn’t seem possible ten years ago. Despite being as big of a fan as I am, the films don’t come without imperfections, the main one being that, at times, they do occasionally feel reminiscent of one another. There are obvious exceptions every year, but generally, they’re all big scale, end of the world disaster films. That’s what makes Logan so refreshing. It’s a comic book movie unlike any you’ve seen before, feeling more so like a character driven drama than a superhero movie.
Logan is a personal adventure for the character we’ve come to know and love, culminating this near two decade long story into a climax that goes up and beyond all expectations while also appealing to those unfamiliar with Logan’s tragic backstory. It’s a film set in its own time with its own set of rules, working as both a standalone and a sequel. There’s no previous films you need to watch, nor any sequels that are set up. This film merely takes the character of Logan, pulls him apart and creates one of the most authentic, moving and emotional comic book movies to date. Nobody is trying to blow up the world or take control of the country. It’s gritty and brutal; first and foremost a breakdown of the burdens Logan has to live with. Immortality has a cost, and having seen so many of his friends die, Logan is ready to join them. Unfortunately for him, it just doesn’t seem like something that’s going to happen.
No longer restricted by a more teen oriented classification, Logan is able to go all out, showcasing the most comic book accurate interpretation of the character yet. Pushed to the edge by a world out to get him, nothing is holding Logan back. When he’s pissed, he shows it. The claws come out, slashing and severing his way through the world. Heads are removed, blood is spilt, and the action is pure insanity. Shockingly, it’s used sparingly, adding further proof to the fact that this is more so a drama than an action film, but when it’s going down, it’s going down. I can’t tell you how many times I audibly gasped at the sheer gruesomeness of the violence, first made evident through an opening scene that gives you just a taste of what you’re in for.
In a lot of ways, Logan is a story about family. “We took you in and gave you a family,” Patrick Stewart’s Xavier reminds Logan at one point. The two have a father-son bond going on, something that works for the plot. Xavier is old and weary, seemingly on his last stretch of life. Stewart perfects the role, giving his best interpretation of the character yet. The dynamic between Xavier and Logan is enthralling, the two sharing a great deal of screen time that leads to gratifyingly emotional pay off, not always in the way you’re expecting. A monologue Xavier gives in the film’s second half even brought tears to my eyes, the first of many occurrences.
This is, however, absolutely Hugh Jackman’s movie. Logan sees the end of an era for Jackman, going out in the best way possible. The character is weary and dying, his beard grey and his mind muddled. Ramped up with rage and an ‘I don’t give a shit’ attitude towards life, every time he’s on screen is almost heartbreaking. He’s missed out on having the life he deserves, tormented in his dreams and devoid of a family. Death has consumed him, struggling to live with the sins of his past, hesitant to settle down. Nothing’s ever gone well for him, Hugh Jackman bringing that sense of fierce, distraught charisma to the big screen in what is easily his best performance as the character. It’s the version of Logan we’ve always wanted to see, true to the spirit of the comics, and Jackman was born to play him.
Caring for people isn’t something on Logan’s mind. It never has been. When Laura comes along, however, he has to. Mutant-kind is on the brink of extinction, yet Laura may just be the key to their recovery. Dafne Keen steals the show as a girl of few words, conveying her emotions through her actions and facial expressions. Keen can kick ass when she needs to, while also bringing a human side to her character. The most we know about her is told to us through a conveniently discovered video on a phone, but with that convenience aside, director James Mangold is still able to transform her into a compelling character. Mangold has expressed interest in continuing Laura’s story in an X23 solo movie, and after the way she’s handled in Logan, that’s an idea I am 100% down to watch.
There’s a lot to love when it comes to Logan, whether it’s the staggering brutality or the genuine emotion it’s able to bring to such a story. This moving farewell to the iconic character is all sorts of brilliant, one that I can see myself liking more and more as I continue to rewatch it. Logan deserves to be a box office smash. It deserves all the money it can get. It might even deserve a higher rating than the already high one I’m giving it. This is a comic book movie that’s going to be remembered. Thank you, Hugh Jackman. Thank you for seventeen years of memories.
4 1/2 Stars
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