It’s been 17 years since Hugh Jackman donned the metal claws in 2000’s X-Men and has been the face of the entire X-Men franchise ever since. He’s also the only actor to appear in eight Marvel films as one character. That’s why when it was announced that Logan would be his final film as Wolverine, it was met with heartache from fans everywhere. But Hugh Jackman did everything in his power to make sure that his final Wolverine film is everything that fans wanted. Does Logan provide a fitting swan song for Hugh Jackman or does the film end Jackman’s X-Men career with a whimper?
Fortunately, Logan is a genuine marvel. Despite the super slow tempo of the film, the film represents the best work James Mangold has done since 3:10 to Yuma. It’s beautifully shot and assembled, with great performances from its cast. Just don’t expect an action extravaganza like Deadpool.
Logan follows old man Logan (Hugh Jackman) as he cares for a weary and ailing Professor X in a hide out on the Mexican border. But as Logan is attempting to hide from the world, a young mutant (Dafne Keen) arrives and completely upends his plans of solitude. With dark forces after them, it is up to Logan to protect Laura and escort her to her destination.
In comparison to other superhero solo outings, Logan is very unique. Instead of an action adventure movie, Logan is an emotional character-driven drama. Michael Green, Scott Frank, and James Mangold do an amazing job taking the characters that we know and love and adding more layers to them. They’re able to explore these rich set of characters, who are seemingly at the end of their rope and give them a reason to keep on going. That reason would be X-23/Laura Kinney, who is multi-dimensional in her own right. However, there are several plot holes and questionable story choices to be found but the joy of watching Logan is seeing Wolverine and X-23’s journey together.
A proper character-driven script is useless without a competent director and, thankfully, James Mangold is in his element. Mangold channels his inner Coen brother and delivers the deepest superhero film yet. Mangold and cinematographer John Mathieson perfectly capture the desolate landscape of Mexico, Texas, and the Midwest. It’s quite captivating at times. The stark, bare Western-inspired landscapes is a perfect metaphor for the isolation that Logan so desperately seeks.
But for those with short attention spans, Logan might feel really long. Logan is a slow-burn type of film that takes its sweet time getting from point A to point B. Not only that but there is a limited amount of action scenes in the film, but as I said, this isn’t that type of film. It’s a character-driven drama. So when we do get action scenes, they are ultra-violent and bloody. But the gore is done in good taste and not in any way too obscene.
Logan is also bolstered by the powerful lead performances of Hugh Jackman, Patrick Stewart, and Dafne Keen. Jackman is a delight and gives it his absolute all with his final Wolverine film. His expressions convey a plethora of emotions from pain, sadness, and anger, just to name a few. Jackman also put a lot of physicality into the role with his limping, shaking, and rage. Patrick Stewart leaves an indelible performance as Professor Charles Xavier. Stewart takes the character and puts him in a place that no other X-Men film has taken him before. He’s vulnerable, helpless, and hilariously vulgar. He gives the film a lot of its heart.
The most surprising aspect of the film is newcomer Dafne Keen as Laura Kinney/X-23. The role is a challenging one because Keen has long stretches without dialogue so most of her performance relies on her physicality and facial expressions. She’s still able to embody the character despite the lack of dialogue and convey the pain of a child that has been through a lot.
As for the rest of the cast, “Narcos” star, Boyd Holbrook, is charming as Donald Pierce but lacks any intimidation factor to be an effective villain. Stephen Merchant is funny and quirky as Caliban but don’t expect to see a lot of him in the film.
Overall, Logan has everything you want from a Wolverine film, a perfect blend of ultra-violence, emotion, and humor. Fox’s decision to put out unique R-rated mainstream superhero films should pay dividends for the studio. It also helps that Hugh Jackman gave us everything he had to provide us with the best Wolverine film yet and fans should be eternally grateful to him. It’s a perfect coincidence that Logan is inspired by a Western because Logan is the ideal film for Hugh Jackman’s ride off into the sunset. Happy trails, Hugh!
Rating: 4/5 atoms