This review of “Logan” contains some spoilers.
After 17 years of playing the character of Wolverine in various X-Men films from Fox studios, Hugh Jackman is finally hanging up the claws with the film, “Logan”. The good thing about this is that Hugh Jackman is leaving the character on a very high note. It is easy to say that this is the best movie in the X-Men franchise as the majority of their films are pretty easy to top. So instead I will say that this could very well be one of the best superhero films overall.
“Logan” takes place in one of the various X-Men timelines in the year 2029, where there have been no new mutants born in the last 25 years. A weary Logan (Hugh Jackman) tries to lay low as a chauffeur while trying to care for an ailing Professor X (Patrick Stewart). It is an interesting concept to see these characters, who were once protecting the world and their mutant kind from annihilation withered down mentally and physically. There is no fancy mansion to live in and the rest of the X-Men are gone. Logan has suffered throughout his lifetime as he has lost people close to him. Now, his mutant healing power is failing him as his body is being poisoned by the adamantium covering his skeleton. At the same time, he cares for Professor Xavier, one of the most powerful mutants alive, who is now old and suffering from a brain disease and seizures which, when they hit, cause people within a surrounding area to go into a comatose state. The goal is to get enough money for a boat and, along with their pale mutant friend Caliban (Stephen Merchant), get away. However, the plan is cut short when a mutant girl by the name of Laura (Dafne Keen), enters their lives. Now Logan falls into everything he was trying to escape and must protect the girl from those who are hunting her.
To have the final Wolverine film release with an R rating turned out to be a good move. The rating helps reflect the grim state these characters are in. For years, we have seen Wolverine use his claws in various films but never to the level as seen in “Logan”. This violence stresses the brutality this man has experienced and has carried with him for the hundreds of years that he has been alive. When Logan cuts loose and kills with his claws it is up close, and not pretty. This has been his life all these years. But the violence is not only towards Logan’s enemies but appears on Logan as well as his healing power has slowed down and we see some of the scars and wounds he’s endured. The violence in the film is not thrown in for violence sake, when it happens there is a reason, and it moves the character and the story along.
The performances from the lead actors in this film are outstanding. I think Hugh Jackman has given his best performance since “Prisoners”. The emotional baggage Logan carries throughout the film is present in Jackman’s watery eyes and his display of emotion is heartfelt. It is a performance that I could see as a nod for Oscar nomination. The same goes for Patrick Stewart as Professor Charles Xavier. There are moments where Patrick Stewart bounces between the Professor we once knew in previous films to the ill-minded elderly man now reliant on drugs to prevent him from harming others, which is performed impeccably well. Also, there is a scene where Charles talks about finally having a perfect night and then opens up to Logan about the past and how he does not deserve it, which is a shining emotional moment. Finally, I don’t know where James Mangold found Dafne Keen to play Laura but oh what a find she was. She was great as the mini-Wolverine and her action scenes were stunning. She delivers a ferocity that matches that of Hugh Jackman’s and also manages to bring an audience to tears.
The chemistry between the three leads is tremendous. Hugh Jackman and Patrick Stewart are already familiar with one another, playing the same characters in films past, but this time it is different. Their characters are weary and broken, yet their relationship is stronger than ever and it shows in the performances. There are many great moments on the road trip which bring a smile to my face hearing the two bicker about, and also moments of eventual tears. Despite not having a lot to say, Dafne Keen manages to fit right in with the two actors as the film progresses and even more so in the third act.
For the villains, the standout is Boyd Holbrook as Donald Pierce, the leader of the militant Reavers group who is sent to retrieve Laura. The character truly shines in the first half of the film, being one who is a big fan of Wolverine, but Wolverine is in the way of what he wants. Though by the time film reaches the third act, the character is brushed aside to make room for another villain who is a reflection of Logan’s past self.
James Mangold’s film is a modern western and he is not afraid to have the film wear its influences on its sleeves. There are a number of influences which include “Children of Men” and “Unforgiven”, however, the one that is most clear is the influence from the 1953 western, “Shane”. The story of a gunfighter who tries to escape from his past by falling in with a family is similar to Logan’s story. There is actually a mini “Shane” moment in the film when Logan and company come unto a family that Logan ends up helping, though the outcome is not quite the same. Also, the film, “Shane” is played on a television at one point in the film and the famous “There’s no living with a killing” quote is spoken as well.
The mini “Shane” scene is actually a golden moment for me as it was great to see Logan and company settle for a bit, enjoy each other’s company, and just be like a family for that brief amount of time. It was a moment to cherish as you can feel the enjoyment they are having and I wish there could be more moments like this one. Kudos to the writers James Mangold, Scott Frank and Michael Green on scripting something as wonderful as this much needed moment. As a matter of fact, the script and overall execution of the film is done so well that I truly feel it is not necessary to even see the previous films in the series. Like the title of the film being, “Logan”, it pushes away from being seen as a sequel and stands on its own from the rest.
When the trailer for “Logan” hit, I was surprised at how well done the trailer was and, though I really liked the trailer, I was trying to keep my expectations from getting too high. The track record for the films in the X-Men franchise is not a good one. However, “Logan” proved that when a studio allows a director to take a risk and deliver a film as soulful and different than what’s been released previously in the franchise, it is a risk worth taking. It took 17 years to get a film like “Logan” made and it was well worth the wait.