The Hollywood box office is no stranger to Hugh Jackman and his portrayal of James Howlett aka Logan aka “Wolverine” from the long-running X-Men film franchise. His tenured performance culminates in a stellar outing in what is the best and most true-to-form Wolverine portrayal to date.
The story of Logan picks up in the not-too-distant year of 2029, in a future where the propagation of the mutant species has been eradicated prior to them being born through advancements in science and medicine. There are also no X-Men. Logan, older and now showing that the limits of his mutant body are finally catching up to him, makes ends meet as a limo driver. Logan’s goal is simple: save up enough money to buy a boat and live on the ocean with Charles Xavier, whom he is taking care of, and is suffering from a degenerative brain disease. Logan’s plan for an “apple pie life” is turned upside down when a young girl is brought into the picture that kicks this movie off into an entertaining tale of discovery and loss.
The story benefits most by way of what it doesn’t tell us as the viewer. Many non-critical story details are left unanswered, intentionally and deliberately, which makes this film’s story more intriguing with the new world it’s trying to build for audiences. The story also leaves enough details out for you to figure out on your own as the story unfolds — which is satisfying in a world where films hold your hand along for the ride and have the plot dumbed down for the masses.
One of Logan’s super-strengths is its leading cast. Hugh Jackman pulls off a weathered and worn down Logan very well — but perhaps a lot of that has to do with being attached to the role for almost two decades! Patrick Stewart’s supporting role as a Charles Xavier afflicted by a battle against his own senility is a very touching, yet grounded and welcome evolution of a character once known for being one of the world’s greatest and most powerful minds. The evolution that these characters have been through over the years through the various films (the good and the Brett Ratner bad) helps sell stellar performances with even the simplest of stories like the one championed in Logan. This movie is proof that franchises are good for storytelling. We as an audience bond and grow with the cast, which make for just a more immersive experience. We as an audience deserved Logan and it was a treat.
Boyd Holbrook’s portrayal as the persistent and nefarious Donald Pierce is also a very solid casting as a villain in the film. Every scene he shared with Jackman carried a threatening air of tension to it, which was surprising with him being a newcomer to the X-Men franchise and its eternally revolving door of plug-n-play villains. It was a shame however that his role became slightly diminished as the story further developed, calling for less of an emphasis on his antagonistic charisma and more on Logan’s quest with the young girl character. Speaking of which, Dafne Keen’s portrayal of Laura Kinney aka “X-23” is somewhat of a mixed bag. On one hand she definitely worked to sell the role — especially in the action sequences — but it was hard to connect to her character as one would be able to with the likes of Jackman’s and Stewart’s characters. The way the story presented itself, while great, didn’t do the viewer too many favors for selling us completely on caring about a new character like Laura as much as we probably should.
A review about Logan can’t go without saying that this film carries a fancy R-rating, owing this to the unbridled success of last year’s blockbuster Deadpool. It was only common sense to have the next Wolverine movie carry a similar rating since it allowed Deadpool to do justice to the source material. And justice is exactly what an R-rating does for Logan — but not without a few qualms!
The violence in Logan isn’t too over-the-top or comes anywhere near Tarantino’s mayhem spectrum. The violence and gore is definitely realistic for the content and its comic book counterpart. Wolverine isn’t a cuddly character. This is the anti-hero we’ve always wanted him to be. The real issue where the R-rating was taken too far was with the language. The number of F-bombs dropped earlier in the film definitely felt forced and out of place and just didn’t feel natural to the characters in the context they were being used, giving the impression they were thrown in there just because they could (“Look at us! We have an R-rating! F*ck! F*ck! F*ckity f*ck f*ck!”). Later in the film the language did tone down and became more natural and fluid with the situations.
The direction Logan takes the franchise is downright majestic compared to the films that came before it. A true, stylistic work of art. James Mangold, the director of the previous film The Wolverine, finally took over both writing and directing this time around and you can tell his touch definitely improved the overall aesthetic of the film. You could tell this movie was made with a soul and not just with dreams of dollar signs in mind. There isn’t an overabundance of CGI. There is no menacing army of faceless minions to defeat. Gone are the over-the-top comic book movie set-pieces. There are no generic beams of light being shot into the sky for no reason other than to look cool. There isn’t a big bad CGI creature to defeat at the end. No reckless and wanton destruction of cities and property. Talk about a breath of fresh air.
Everything in Logan was put there by Mangold to tell a captivating story that isn’t there just for show. There were moments where outright action and conflict are greeted with moments of real emotion. Logan is a comic book movie with real consequences and real stakes — something that seems to have slipped away form superhero films these days. And this is why Logan borderlines on being mentioned in the same breath of instant classic comic book films like The Dark Knight.
Logan is a very down-to-earth breath of fresh air in a franchise of films that left a lot to be desired, and Hugh Jackman and Patrick Stewart put on an epic and memorable swan song of a tandem performance. Logan is a well-balanced comic book movie that never really felt like one, and it is as satisfying dramatically as it is with its stellar handling of the comic book source material.
Go see Logan. Just don’t bring your kids.
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