Seventeen very long, very dutiful, and very impressive years. Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine has stood the test of time and has continually been the staple that has kept the X-Men franchise afloat during some rockier entries. After seventeen long years and nine films, The krueger clawed anti hero has officially decided to hang it up, and Logan is beyond a shadow of a doubt, the single most glorious departure conceivable. Director James Mangold delivers a harsh vision which sees great and spectacular violence that has palpable consequences, emotionally. In the world of comic book based movies, Logan steps back and examines the character of Wolverine with reverent humanity. There are no theatrics, no abundance of pageantry, but instead, a searing exploration on the intrinsically paternal relationships amongst the characters.
Opening to a destitute future seemingly deprived of all mutants, we meet a way-weary Logan (Hugh Jackman), who is a boozed out, beat down, shell of his former self. He makes his living as a chauffeur for ostensibly obnoxious patrons, and has been making back alley deals with physicians to get medicine for the ailing and ageing Professor X (Patrick Stewart), with the aid of albino mutant tracker, Caliban (Stephen Merchant). Traveling back and forth between his hide out on the wrong side of the Mexican border, and his day job in the states, Logan has lost any ambition he may have once had, and is solely focused on self preservation and the well being of Professor X, who has long been his father figure in this universe. With an escapist mentality, Logan’s plan is to sail off into the sunset to watch his friend die, likely before taking his own life with the single adamantium bullet that he carries around as a totem of solace.
Logan’s plans are put in jeopardy as he is approached by a desperate woman (Elizabeth Rodriguez), who pleads with him to help her and her little girl get to a destination and outrun the ominous regime that is trying to capture her. Appealing to his selfish conventions, Logan agrees, when money is offered for his services. Unfortunately When he arrives to begin the journey, the woman is decies and the little girl is vanished. Logan high tails it back to his dusty hideout with a stow away in his trunk and nefarious mercenaries on his tail. His life is changed, as is the course of history when a little girl named Laura (Dafne Keen), turns out to be a mutant, akin to our would be protagonist. Logan, The Professor, and Laura begin their journey to Eden, a purposed sanctuary for mutants.
Logan is absolutely detached from the rest of the X-men series, as Fox has never been one for the maintaining of continuity within their apparent cinematic universe. Because Mangold’s iteration has no necessary connective tissue, aside from the characters themselves, to the greater universe, he is granted full creative autonomy with the narrative. The result is a no holds barred viscerally violent film, with fully realized emotional depth, not typically seen in this genre. There is no denying the clear parallels between this and Mangold’s reimagining of 3:10 to Yuma, both are highly stylized character driven stories that are more reliant on character development than knuckle dragging action. Similarly, Logan is a focus on relationships, mainly paternalistic, and the strain that time has put on these once dynamically mercurial individuals. More than 3:10 to Yuma, Mangold seems to be paying direct homage to the classic sprawling westerns with allusions to films films like True Grit and Unforgiven, and a direct reference to the classic Shane, whose ending foreshadows the fates of our heroes.
While the opening sequences bring into the question the decision to embark on this journey without concern for the MPAA’s rating system, the R-rating overcomes the potential for pure gimmick, and the movie is not simply overreaching for shock value, but feels authentic, based on the way this story needed to be told. If facing facts, the comic book version of Wolverine is in fact R-rated, as he tears through dozens with razor sharp chef’s knives protruding from his knuckles, there should be little surprise that we finally get a version of this character that is only considered hyper-violent, because it’s so grounded in reality.
The performances are most impressive. Superhero films are apt to resort to cheese and exuberant displays of heroism that make you smile and cheer, but don’t necessarily play to your emotions. Logan is having none of that. Allowing Jackman to really dig in and explore the humanity behind this iconic character, this is the most well-rounded version of Wolverine we have seen on screen yet, with an emotional awareness that cuts deep. This is the most fully realized and three-dimensional character arc and Jackman finds new levels to go to, in every scene, arguably turning in the best performance of his career. While Jackman is incredible, it becomes clear why the past Wolverine stand alone films have been more divisive. The did not have Patrick Stewart. Stewart and Jackman’s ability to riff off one another and the chemistry that resides between them, is electric. Stewart’s Charles Xavier is a tragic figure that reminds us just how long this franchise has been soldiering forward. The biggest surprise comes in the smallest packaging, as the little scene stealing wolverine mini-me, Dafne Keen, absolutely crushes her role as X-23.
It’s so refreshing to see true originality within the comic book subgenre. All about coming to grips with mortality, Logan is surreal in that it gives us a version of superheroes that doesn’t feel even remotely heroic. It feels almost allegorical with its exhibition of the effects that violence has on the psyche of these heroes. There is a body count, these are people, flesh and bone, being slaughtered and Mangold never shies away from the honest brutality that lies behind every single superhero film. It’s the intensity of the narrative and the interactions between the characters that drive this film. It never lets up, and refuses to let anyone off the hook, resulting in a hauntingly soulful tribute to the title character. Through it all, we the audience remain cognisant of the fact that this is it for Jackman, and it makes the emotion that much more profound. With great dignity and grace, we say farewell to arguably the greatest duo in comic book film history, and they give us the adieu we hoped for, with a story that they deserved. We will miss the hell out of you, Hugh Jackman. Thanks for the memories.
4.95/5 EPIC BRO