Logan is a real breath of fresh air in the current stream of comic book movies. It is one of the rare cases where you forget you are watching a movie about superheroes. This description I have really only attributed to Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight. As with those films, Logan here breaks the mold and tells a very personal and human story about a man who happens to have knives protrude from his knuckles.
The film takes place in the near future where the mutants we know from the X-Men universe are near extinction. Logan (aka Wolverine) and Professor Charles Xavier hide just outside the Mexican border, with Xavier suffering from seizures and a sort-of dementia. Logan works nights as a limousine driver in order to pay for Xavier’s medication. Circumstances soon unfold, leaving the pair to take care of a young mutant who is pursued by a mercenary force.
That’s really all I wish to dig into the plot as there is both too much to talk about and too many surprises to keep secret. Logan is not a comic book movie but a western, with multiple references to films such as Shane and Unforgiven. Director James Mangold (who helmed the previous entry, The Wolverine) crafts his masterpiece here. Using real locations, limited special effects, and a great screenplay to build an emotional and satisfying finale to Hugh Jackman’s portrayal of Wolverine. Having played the character for 17 years in 9 different films, it is difficult to see anyone else in the role. Jackman has stated for awhile that this will be his final outing as Logan, with this ultimately being the story he’s wanted to tell for the character, believing it to be his swan song. I cannot argue with him because not only is this the best interpretation of the character we’ve seen to date, it’s also Hugh Jackman’s best performance to date. We have seen him bring both rage and humanity to this character over the past 17 years, but it’s here that he really gives Logan a heart.
The cast supporting Jackman is uniformly great. Patrick Stewart returns in what has since become his final performance as Professor Xavier. This isn’t the Charles we’ve seen before – he’s aging badly, experiencing deadly seizures (for those around him), and curses like a sailor. Stewart nails the role and gives Xavier a fine sendoff. Newcomer Dafne Keen knocks it out of the park as Laura, the young mutant seeking help from Logan. She has a tough role seeing as how her character doesn’t speak, but Keen is able to convey more than what is required from her without speaking a word. One high point of the film for me was Boyd Holbrook’s mercenary, Donald Pierce. His rapport with Logan is a real highlight of the first act, with Pierce not fearing the Wolverine’s wrath whatsoever. It’s a fun character who unfortunately gets sidelined in the third act, but Holbrook has enough of a presence that his character remains memorable.
Much has been said about how this film is R-rated. Following the trend of last year’s Deadpool, Fox has been experimenting with hard-R superhero films and it has paid off wonderfully so far. While I don’t believe that many characters need anything more than a PG-13, these are two characters who definitely warrant a more adult rating. Last year we also saw the R-rated cut of Batman v Superman, which was a far superior film not because of it’s rating, but simply because the shorter version cut out the plot lines that made the movie make any sense. That being said, Logan is very much an R-rated film from beginning to end. If you’ve every rolled your eyes at the previous X-Men films when someone is killed by Wolverine with no bloody consequences, this film remedies that. It’s savage, brutal, and often horrifying. The “action” in this film isn’t exactly fun, but as realistic as it can be and very intense.
Logan is far and away the best film Marvel has ever been involved in. It is exciting and surprisingly emotional. James Mangold made a great, fun movie with The Wolverine and, had it not been for it’s off-the-rails third act, it would have been THE interpretation of the character to beat. Fortunately he got another crack at it and gave us his best work yet. I can’t recommend it enough, it really is an emotional gut-punch of a film. I think the best compliment I can give this film is that, outside of Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy, this is the best film involving a comic book character.
Rating: R – strong brutal violence and language throughout, and for brief nudity
Runtime: 2 hours, 17 minutes