Going in, Hugh Jackman had already made it clear this would be his final ride as the iconic mutant, Wolverine. Spanning seventeen years and 10 appearances, Jackman has seen each of the highs and all of the lows (X-Men Origins anybody?). As such, Jackman sought a proper, emotional send-off to the role that made him a star.
Logan is better than it probably has any right to be. This film is nothing like the X-Men movies of the past. Not only is it the first R-rated Wolverine film, thanks in large part to the success of last year’s Deadpool, but it aptly avoids retreading the same ground as its predecessors. Logan plays as an old school, ugly, raw western in many respects. Masterfully walking the line between western and neo-noir, Director James Mangold offers the grittiest, most powerful look at the X-Men franchise.
The film’s elevated brutality is apparent from the opening scene, wherein Logan is awakened by a group of thugs trying to steal the tires off his car. Initially, a groggy, clearly battle-worn Logan attempts to reason with the men, but after they open fire, his vintage rage boils over. The slaughter is bloody and frenetic, sadistic even. It’s a classic “poking the bear” scene that launches into a tone-setting massacre.
From there, we are introduced to Charles Xavier, played by Patrick Stewart. Once the beacon of hope for mutant kind, Charles is now a shadow of himself thanks to a degenerative brain disease. It’s clear that Logan is protecting Charles but from what isn’t clear until later on.
Despite Logan’s best efforts, he soon finds himself pulled into the middle of a war between a corporate paramilitary army and a fleeing test subject named Laura, played by Dafne Keen. Keen is terrific in this film, portraying a feral child in search of her freedom and a normal life. Logan’s reluctance, even as the two go on the run with Charles, makes for good gradual character development.
This picture is packed with ravaged bodies and vulnerable, traumatized souls, and it’s their growing bonds that bring true healing. As the chase plays out across countless miles, we find kind strangers, open skies, and utter carnage. Simply put, Director James Mangold makes as yet the most compelling argument for grounding superhero films in realism. Here, the use of pyrotechnics serve the plot while maintaining realism that most comic book movies lack these days. It’s because of that realism that we are able to connect with our lead characters, Logan and Laura. And it’s because of that that we are able to see more clearly than ever that mutants are no less human than anyone else.
I give Logan an A-