My wife and I checkout out Logan as part of a date night double feature last weekend and were surprised to find we liked it more that Beauty and the Beast (see that review here). Logan easily stands as the best solo Wolverine movie since X-Men Origins was terrible in every conceivable way and, despite having good moments, The Wolverine was ultimately average and unforgettable (I’d kill to see the Darren Aronofsky version of that film). Logan arguably is one of the best X-films, contending with X-man 2 and First Class. The funny thing is they managed to create a great superhero movie by tossing out the superhero movie formula and crafting something totally different. Logan plays more like a western and aptly references the classic film Shane during its runtime. Simply put, because of its unique style for a superhero movie it won’t be for everyone, but I found it to be a strong movie and a fitting tribute to Hugh Jackman’s time as the iconic hero.
Here is a quick, relatively spoiler-free summary for Logan. The film loosely adapts the Old Man Logan storyline and takes place in the future where most mutants have been wiped out. Logan/Wolverine now works as a limo driver where he’s trying to make enough money to buy medicine for Charles Xavier and a boat so he and Charles can sail away. Logan is not healing as well as he used to. Charles, the once wise leader of the X-Men, now suffers from seizures which is a major concern in a brain that’s basically a weapon of mass destruction. The only other person they interact with is an albino named Caliban who has the ability to sense and track mutants. They are lying low until a woman approaches Logan about a job to transport her and a young girl to North Dakota. That encounter gets Logan caught up in a major government hullabaloo and pulls the Wolverine back into a life of violence he tried to put behind him.
You may know whether you’re going to like or dislike Logan by this simple statement, Logan is not the Avengers. This movie does not have bright colors, enormous action set pieces, witty one liners or that general popcorn blockbuster flare that has become synonymous with Marvel’s features. Don’t get me wrong, there certainly is action. Instead of polished choreographer action scenes between superhumans that don’t seem to feel pain and constant explosions adorning every frame, the violence here is raw and felt. Logan has a somber tone, a slower and more deliberate pacing and follows a man broken and waiting to die. As I stated in the synopsis, Logan knows he’s nearing the end of his life with his wounds no longer healing like they used to and finds himself asking the question “has what I’ve done made a difference” while running from who he used to be. It is fitting that the film references Shane because, similar to that movie’s lead, Logan is a killer who fought on the side of the heroes but is doubting that he himself is one. He lives with the pain of things he has done, what and who he has lost and is struggling to find the strength to perform one last good deed. It is a beautiful deconstruction of what it means to be a hero and leaving a legacy and works well because of the years and film’s worth of experiences movie-goers have shared with the character.
Although a strong story in its own right, the movie hinges on the performances of Hugh Jackman and Patrick Stewart. They deliver. Both Jackman and Stewart have never been better in the roles. Jackman’s portrayal was raw. I felt all the baggage he carried with him from a life or regret and sorrow and it helped make every fight more grounded and real and allowed the emotional sequences to feel earned. Stewart’s Charles Xavier is vastly different than in previous X-Men films. He’s old and his mental and physical health are deteriorating. Xavier is a shell of his former self due to what he’s battling physically and from the loss of everyone he cared for. There’s scenes where he opens up about his loss and where he challenges Logan to be the hero he envisioned he could be that were tremendous. Lastly, Dafne Keen as Laura/X-23 steals the show in her breakout role. Her character was raised to be a weapon and throughout the movie she has a difficult time experiencing normal daily interactions and grapples with ideas of what it means to be human and belonging to a family. She will get plenty of offers following this performance.
The biggest thing Logan will be remembered for is being a sendoff for Hugh Jackman (and possibly Patrick Stewart). Jackman has played Logan/Wolverine in nine films over the course of 17 years. He did not grow into the role, he nailed it right from the start. When he was first cast, fans were in an uproar about this tall, handsome Australian playing a stocky, animalistic Canadian, but not we can’t picture anyone else with the claws. Playing Wolverine is what made him a star. Unlike many other A-listers he didn’t reject the character or franchise as stupid comic book movies or “slumming it” after making it big, but returned time and time again doing what he could to elevate the material and give fans the X-Men stories they dreamed of. Logan acted as a perfect ride into the sunset; brining to life the character’s most iconic story that focused on the legacy he left behind. I tip my hat to you Mr. Jackman, no matter who else takes up the mantle you will always be Wolverine.
My one sentence review: Logan is a fitting conclusion to Wolverine’s cinematic story and Hugh Jackman’s tenure as the character and serves as a refreshingly different movie in a superhero genre that is beginning to grow stale.