Hope is hard to come by in James Mangold’s Logan, which takes place in 2029, as the former X-Men rebel is beat down by life’s heaviest punches: failure and loss. Hugh Jackman is back in his final outing as Wolverine/Logan, as he is woken up from his drunken stupor to be who he used to be. Jackman is joined by Patrick Stewart, revisiting his role as Professor Charles Xavier, and both characters use what’s left in their gas tanks to help a young mutant that’s being pursued by dark forces.
Mangold directs a savage film with heart. It’s savage in the true sense of the word and not the hash-tag, watered down, social media version. Logan stabs people, cuts of limbs, and bathes in the blood of his enemies, and we get to see all of it. Wolverine is truly unleashed in this film, and the action is satisfying on so many levels. From a technical point, the shots are steady enough for the audience to feel the pain of both the baddies and the badass with the claws.
Logan is an X-Men Western, and it works. It is a poetic send-off into the horizon for the beloved Wolverine. Both Logan and Charles Xavier are written so well for this movie that it’s impossible not to feel sympathetic for their situation. The days of superheroes are gone in this world; there are only survivors left. The script and style of direction has the same feel as Unforgiven, and it also directly references Shane. This adventure packs an emotional punch to the gut that lingers long after the credits roll.
What makes the film even better is that it doesn’t need any other comic book flick to hold it up. It is a standalone movie. Yes, it references some points in past X-Men films, but it’s very much its own movie. In fact, this is one of the more realistic comic book movies out there, as the two main heroes are vulnerable and way past their primes. Now, this film isn’t perfect. The character of Gabriela could’ve been handled better, and there’s some video footage used for exposition that just didn’t feel right. Additionally, the score could’ve been stronger in some scenes. However, the positive aspects heavily outweigh these minor flaws, especially the three main performances.
Hugh Jackman played Wolverine/Logan for the last 17 years, and he’s always delivered. In Logan, Jackman is at his absolute best as the old, broken down beast that’s been robbed of everything he’s loved by his ability to survive. When we see Logan, we don’t quite recognize him. He has a hitch in his step, he’s not as keen in a fight, and you can almost smell the alcohol and tears off his chauffeur suit. The man lives with a bottle in his hand, and wants to die. However, beneath the battle scars and nearly hopeless glare is the heroic side of Logan that he can’t escape from. He’s tired and crumbling, but he keeps going because somebody needs help; that’s the pure definition of a hero.
Patrick Stewart turns in an equally amazing performance as Professor X. The once sharp, wise man is suffering from a neurodegenerative disease which can cause his telepathic abilities to dangerously go out of control. Stewart does a tremendous job of portraying Charles as a shell of himself, who often times has trouble piecing things together. Charles keeps his humor in tact, and also his drive to do good, even in a world as dark as this one. Stewart gives a touching performance in his last go as Professor X.
Finally, there’s the newcomer, Laura, played by the very talented Dafne Keen. Also known as X-23, Laura is an experiment gone wrong. Equipped with adamantium claws in her hands and feet, along with a healing factor, she is an 11-year-old murder machine. Dafne Keen is vicious in the role, and steals quite a few scenes. She develops a genuine family bond with both Logan and Charles, and she leaves the audience wanting more of X-23.
The villains in the film aren’t exactly throwaway characters, but they aren’t fleshed out like the central three, which is fine in this case because what they represent and what they do is all we really need to know. There’s also a bit of a surprise villain that makes sense, but might be unappealing to some.
Logan is a gritty film that ends Hugh Jackman’s run playing the character in the best way possible. It is a heartfelt, rage-filled last ride, and it finds Logan discovering that he’s still a hero after all this time, willing to protect his family against all odds. Logan isn’t an amazing superhero film, it’s an amazing film, period.