Just like Wolverine himself, Logan is a film with a long and haunted history of mistakes, regrets and sadness behind it. And just like Wolverine glimpses a final chance of redemption in this swan-song to actor Hugh Jackman, so too does Logan finally redeem the sordid past of Wolverine solo films to finally give him the film – and Hugh the send off – he deserves.
Logan (2017) is an superhero action/western directed by James Mangold (The Wolverine). It stars Hugh Jackman for the final time as James Howlett/Logan/Wolverine at the end of his life. Healing factor fading, scars covering his body, and most mutants long dead, Logan and Caliban (Stephen Merchant) care for an ailing Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart) on the edge of the Mexican border when a mysterious young mutant appears pursue by a shady organisation.
What follows is road-trip of sorts that blurs the line between genres. Part western, part superhero film and part heavy pre-apocalypse drama, the biggest achievement of Logan is how unique the film makes itself out to be in a franchise and superhero setting. While it has light touches of humour peppered throughout, at its very core this a grim, depressing and almost hopeless character study of an enduring superhero icon. Not only is that the perfect approach to farewell Hugh Jackman from the role, but this is the Wolverine film that the character deserves. Brutal, unforgiving and with an emotional core and thoughtfulness absent from so many modern blockbusters, Logan is exactly what it needs to be.
This is helped along by the decision to rate Logan MA 15+ (or R rated in the US), the second X-Men film to do so after Deadpool. And like Deadpool, this was absolutely the perfect decision. The extra violence, gore and swearing is taken full advantage of not only to add to the mature and serious tone of the film, but also to make the best goddamn Wolverine action seen on screen. Mutilated limbs, horrible puncture wounds and severed heads, its all on display in its feral clawed glory. While I would have preferred the camera stay a little steadier during the deadly on-screen acrobatics, the action is still the most visceral and thrilling ever seen in not only X-Men film but also superhero films in general. A warning to all: this is not for the squeamish, the faint of heart or anyone who doesn’t enjoy the sight of internal organs. But to the rest: this is Wolverine as he should be.
As for Hugh Jackman, he is just as good as ever as Wolverine. Up there with Robert Downey Jr, Christopher Reeves and Ryan Reynolds as actors who perfectly embody their superhero identity, he delivers the perfect adieu to the character he has been inhabiting for the last 17 years. The rest of the cast is just as good – Sir Patrick Stewart returns (also apparently for the last time) as Professor X to show a new dimension to the mutant legend. On the brink of death, suffering from a rapidly decaying mind and experiencing terrible seizures, this is a new take on the character that fits into the film perfectly with an exceptional performance that had me on the brink of tears on several occasions. Relative newcomer Dafne Keen as the mysterious girl Laura is also a fantastic addition. Playing a subdued but also menacing performance, her character will be familiar and very satisfying to see for X-Men fans. Special mention also goes to Boyd Holbrook as Pierce, the shady character on Laura’s trail, for elevating a relatively plain role into something a little bit more memorable. As comic book villains go, the character is very basic, but the actor matched with a few interesting characteristics makes him stand out more than he should.
My only real criticism of Logan is that it treads not only predictable but very familiar ground in its overall story and themes. While it does make sense to recall past events for the final film, I felt it was too derivative and followed a very familiar character arc. While it does take these themes and ideas in new directions, I couldn’t quite shake the feeling that like the tone and direction of the film itself, there should have been a bit more innovation used. Not a killing blow, but enough to be noticeable for any X-Men film or comics fan.
Ultimately however, Logan delivers everything it should. It lives up to its rating, does justice to the character and farewells Hugh Jackman in the most beautiful fashion. But beyond that, Logan also represents a level of maturity and direction that I hope Fox and even other film franchises learn from. Tears staining my cheeks, I left the theatre knowing for the first time in my life that I will never see Hugh Jackman don the claws again. But I also left satisfied in the fact that Logan is the send-off he deserves.
General Audiences: Highly Recommended
Film Buffs: Highly Recommended
True Believers (X-Men): Must-see
Cinema-sobbers: Highly Recommended