STARRING: Hugh Jackman, Patrick Stewart, Richard E. Grant, Boyd Holbrook, Stephen Merchant and Dafne Keen
In the near future, a weary Logan cares for an ailing Professor X in a hide out on the Mexican border. But Logan’s attempts to hide from the world and his legacy are up-ended when a young mutant arrives, being pursued by dark forces.
In the near future where mutants are all but extinct as no new mutants have been born in two decades. Logan is making a living as a limo driver in a town on the Mexican border, where he lives in a remote makeshift home where he looks after Charles Xavier. However for Logan his low-radar living is changed forever as a young mutant being pursued by dark forces, he is drawn back into action despite his hopelessness.
Back in the summer of 2000, 20th Century Fox brought the X-Men film to the big screen, back in the day when comic book/superhero films weren’t taken as serious as they are now (to a certain degree) by major studios. It also launched the career of then well known stage actor Hugh Jackman to a worldwide audience playing the role of Wolverine. Fast forward to seventeen years later and Hugh Jackman makes his ninth and final outing as the iconic character in Logan. The film is obviously inspired by the Old Man Logan comic and with the studio allowing James Mangold and Co. to make an X-Men film Rated-R and it feels like that’s due to the box office success of Deadpool last year. We’re taken to the near future where mutants are all but extinct as no new mutants have been born in two decades. Logan is making a living (sort of) as a limo driver in a town on the Mexican border, where he lives in a remote makeshift home where he looks after Charles Xavier. However for Logan, he’s pulled into a new mission as a young mutant being pursued by dark forces, he is drawn back into action despite his hopelessness.
I’ll admit that it’s taken me a few hours after the screening (so it’s now 4a.m as I write this review) to digest my thoughts overall and I have to say this film floored me. It’s a comic book film that plays more into the genre of a western and grounds superhero antics to a minimum compared to what we’ve seen in comic book films before it (The Dark Knight comparisons are being made for a reason here). It’s also one of the most bleak films in the X-Men franchise whilst also feeling distinct in tone to what came before. There is bursts of humour placed in the films two hour and fifteen minutes runtime, but it’s kept to a bare minimum as the film relies on character interactions and arcs. The Wolverine that we’ve grown up watching has now become a shadow of his former self, he’s old and with his healing abilities not being what they used to be, he has to numb the constant chronic pain he gets by hitting the bottle. Not only is he physically beaten up, mentally he’s broken as well as everyone he knew has died all for the exception of Charles Xavier, who he has to take care of as the most powerful mind is now suffering from dementia and also has seizures which can be dangerous to everyone around him. It’s sad to see these characters we’ve followed for seventeen years now become broken shells of themselves and it makes the moments where they have moments of old gory resurfacing, briefly, can be beautiful to watch unfold. The action sequences are more condensed than your average comic book film, focusing primarily on claw-to-hand combat sequences and also with the R rating, Logan is the most graphically violent comic book film since Zack Snyder’s Watchmen. You would also think that seeing Wolverine slashing bad guys for the five-hundredth time would be dull…..it’s not. Hugh Jackman has been playing the role for a long time and yet he manages to bring something new to the table as we see Logan at his most vulnerable and broken. I’ve always liked Jackman in the role and I think here he’s puts everything he got into his swan song, I thought he was absolutely terrific. Patrick Stewart is great as elderly Charles Xavier, playing a different side of the character we’ve never seen before yet maintaining a few traits that we know and love about him. Making her big screen debut alongside them is eleven-year-old Dafne Keen playing the role of Laura Kinney, a young mutant that is being hunted by a military group lands into Logan’s life. Dafne Keen almost steals the show from everyone involved here as she doesn’t talk and does so much with so little in conveying emotional from her facial expressions when she interacts with other characters. The military group in question is led by Donald Pierce, played with charismatic charm by Boyd Holbrook, who is relentless in his pursuit in capturing Laura Kinney by any method necessary. The direction from James Mangold is terrific here as is John Mathieson cinematography.
Logan is so tonally and violently different from the X-Men films that came before it, I think (and know) a few casual film viewers of the franchise will be bored by the purposely slow burn pace of the film, as well as feeling that the violence could be too much for some. I mean if you’re taking kids to this film expect legs, hands and heads to be rolling around the place when the claws come out to play, as well as including blood and open that rare siting of boobs that pop up just to let you know, incase you forgot, you’re watching an R rated film. There’s also quite a bit of swearing thrown into the mix, mostly from Xavier himself, but I’ll admit that in the first act it did feel like it was being thrown around too much. As for the films villain, I get why they went with that villain of choice for this film as it fit with the overall narrative, but it falls with the recent X-Men films that the villain is one of the weakest aspects. For me personally, I wasn’t that much of a fan of Marco Beltrami’s score here but that may change on repeated viewing.
Logan is a sombre swan song for Hugh Jackman as the title character, going out with a bang in a western-vibe setting, soaked up in bloody violence and bleak tone throughout. Sometimes touching, sometimes funny and sometimes heartbreaking, James Mangold has managed to create an absolutely terrific film that feels like the most important comic book film since Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight. 10/10