Logan is a gory and fitting conclusion to the now-famous character, thanks to Hugh Jackman's performance and James Mangold's gritty and hyper-violent direction. This film is unafraid to go to dark places and come back beaten up and bruised.
Director James Mangold reunites with star Hugh Jackman once more in Jackman’s final outing as the clawed X-Men Wolverine in Logan, a gritty and R-rated take on the famed character. Logan is the result of almost twenty years of character backstory, finally taking the titular character to the next level and all of comic book movies too. It’s both a deconstruction of a character and an introduction to the masses of what you can really do with a character when you’ve had so many films and other stories to get him to this point. Logan may go down as one of the most important superhero films to ever hit the screen, but that’s not to say that it’s without flaws.
Logan finds our titular hero (played with an aged and grizzled look by Hugh Jackman) in a somewhat vulnerable state. He’s old, his powers aren’t as strong as they once were and most of the mutants have disappeared. All that’s left is Logan, an old Charles Xavier (played with equal aging and depression by Patrick Stewart) and their tracking mutant friend Caliban (Stephen Merchant).
Together, the three live in seclusion across the Mexican border, with both Caliban and Logan caring for Professor X. Xavier’s brain is failing him, which is both sad and deadly, while Logan is stuck working as a limo driver trying to raise enough money for all of them to sail away on a boat and enjoy their last remaining years.
That all changes once Logan is asked to drive a young girl named Laura (Dafne Keen) to South Dakota for a rather large sum of money. Desperate and down, Logan takes the gig, but knows it comes with heavy baggage as shifty government guys start poking around his part of town, including a man named Pierce (Boyd Holbrook).
The rest as they say, is history. Logan quickly transforms into a blood-soaked Western without the traditional cowboys. It’s drenched in hyper-violence and filled with F-bombs and bleak filmmaking and for the first time in what feels like forever, the superhero sub-genre takes another step forward.
Many are claiming Logan to be the first “real” next-level piece of R-rated filmmaking for superhero films. I don’t disagree on its importance in the grand scheme of things, but I must also remind viewers of Watchmen — that is a true deconstruction of not just superhero films, but violence, politics and even time itself.
Logan is a unique film and that’s because of its known backstory. This is the result of a character that’s been around in film for almost twenty years. And that character has always been played by Hugh Jackman, unlike Batman, Superman and even Spider-Man — who have all switched faces at some point or another.
Fox might not have the most coherent timeline for their X-Men films, but Logan/Wolverine has always been their shining star and rightfully so. Hugh Jackman has managed to bring something new to the character with every return. His quick remarks in X-Men: First Class were classic Logan, while his recent portrayal in The Wolverine and to a lesser extent, X-Men: Apocalypse, have managed to return the character to his more primal and rage-infused ways.
James Mangold directed The Wolverine and by doing so managed to give us a slow-burn character study on one of the most known comic book characters. The ending might’ve fell apart, but 2/3rds of The Wolverine is as concrete as possible. He revealed Logan’s weaknesses and regrets and he gave the character something worth fighting for.
Logan doubles down on the weakness and regret and adds the bonus of not wanting to live. Logan is truly broken in this film and he has no reason to want to piece himself back together again. He’s lost all of his friends and family and is slowly starting to realize that losing himself might not be all that bad either.
But someone comes along and gives his life a little bit of purpose again.
That someone is obviously Dafne Keen‘s Laura, a little girl mysteriously on the run from government officials and clearly someone with special abilities. Keen’s performance is subdued and vicious, much like our first time being introduced to Logan. Her bond with Logan becomes the film’s backbone as does Patrick Stewart‘s relationship with both.
Logan at it’s heart is a family road trip film, soaked in blood and bad language, but still at its core a story of redemption and love and the importance of both. Some of the film’s best moments are its more quiet ones, when Logan, X and Laura are all sharing a family meal around a dinner table or when they’re all smiling and generally enjoying each other’s company.
The other awesome moments are obviously the ones that you get to see Logan let out his claws and go into full-on rage mode on some bad guys. Never has an R-rating felt so good before. Watching Logan slice and dice and dismember body parts is a satisfying and long time coming treat for fans of the character that never thought this day would come.
The R-rating isn’t wasted either. The violence really does add to the story and make the film feel more rounded. The dialogue is a bit more mature as well. It’s a reflective statement of the times that the characters are living in and the mindset that each of them have. Yes, Fox went all-in after Deadpool‘s R-rated success, but if any of their characters needed at least one R-rated film to tell a complete story, it’s Logan.
I did have minor problems with Logan. For one, it’s a long film and that length is felt. I understand that time is needed to really indulge on a story, but I couldn’t help but to feel that it could’ve shaved off ten to twenty minutes. Also, there are parts of the film that feel the same. Logan and the gang are on the run, they stop for a minute, even though they know they shouldn’t, people die and lessons are learned and then it happens all over again in twenty minutes.
It’s not a glaring distraction or note, but it definitely keeps me from calling Logan a perfect film. It’s a strong one and one made better because of the history of the character, but it’s far from an amazing achievement in filmmaking. James Mangold has crafted a unique film that breaks down the walls of a traditional comic book movie and shows us just how far storytellers can go with truly loved characters. But Logan isn’t the best comic book movie that I’ve ever seen and it’s not the very best version of the character either.
I still look back at his cameo role in X-Men: First Class as the single best take on the character. Logan is the most complex and comprehensive look at the character. It’s a story that isn’t afraid to peel back the layers and show you all of Logan’s raw parts and then piece him back together for one last go.
And for that, I respect the hell out of it and selfishly say that I am going to miss Hugh Jackman‘s participation in the X-Men universe. He’s brought so much to the character and the world of comic book movies and he has more than earned his exit, but man are we going to miss him and likely never see another actor make such an impact on a character ever again.