You would think that after seventeen years of embodying a single character, Hugh Jackman would have nothing left to offer in a reprisal of his role as the the iconic comic legend, Wolverine. You would think so, but you would be dead wrong. In Logan, Jackman steps up one last time to deliver a haunting yet refreshing final performance as we the viewers are dragged along for the harrowing journey to a heroes end.
Not Just Another X-Men Movie
The movie takes place in the year 2029, effectively placing it outside of any timeline established in the X-Men franchise thus far. In this time, mutants have seemingly become none existent, with no new mutants having been born within the last 25 years and the X-Men being no more. We find Logan (Hugh Jackman) working as a chauffeur in El Paso, Texas as he tries to save up enough money to take care of himself and an aged, crotchety Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart) who is suffering from mentally degrading illness which, of course, is messing with his abilities powers.
While the R-rating was obviously meant to open the door for the gore and graphic fight scenes, the writers didn’t miss the chance to expose the darker side of the characters who exist in this bleak world. For the first time in an X-Men movie fans can actually appreciate Wolverine’s brutal nature as many an enemy this time around end up decapitated, amputated or straight up shredded. The gore however is only the beginning as the movies is actually able to present the by now familiar characters of Xavier and Logan in a different light. Although early on in the film, the rating seems to be an excuse to throw in an unnecessary and, quite honestly, an unwarranted amount of ‘fuck’s and other colorful language, it doesn’t take long for the characters to start showing more morbid or cynical aspects of their personalities which we have yet to see on the big screen.
As the events of the film play out, the young mutant Laura (Dafne Keen) enters Logan’s life, throwing off his plans as she brings along some eerily familiar pursuers. Keen’s portrayal of X-23 is outstanding and the number one reason to go see this movie. Laura doesn’t have much to say but her arrival forces the world to take shape. Her own skill and brutality, even aspects of the young girl’s life, trigger a change in Logan. A Logan who has long since given up on trying to save the world and help people is placed in a situation where he must now face his own emotional turmoil. He must face who he is, what he has done and what the world around him has become, all to protect the pseudo daughter he didn’t even know he had.
A huge portion of the film is spent by, by movie goers, trying to figure out how things came to this point. What happened to the X-Men? Why are there no more mutants? What happened to Professor X? The movie does not give any explicit answers as the story moves along and this proves to be booth a great boon and pitfall.
The brilliance in this approach is primarily that viewers are drawn in by their desire to accept and understand this world where things are playing out before their eyes. You become so engrossed that you end up paying more attention to what’s happening than you would have, all in the hope that some hint will be offered to explain the mysteries surrounding these events. Viewers become entranced in what is actually playing out as a result, thus a greater appreciation
Another great aspect the film’s ambiguity is the node to past and current comic book lore. It is heavily hinted that both Logan and Charles hold some level of guilt, regret or responsibility for what has happened to the X-Men. This could be a reference to the Old Man Logan comic story line in which Logan was telepathically manipulated into murdering all the residents of the X Mansion. The lack of new mutant could also be a sly reference to the events in Marvel Comic where mutants have been going extinct. They mystery of it all allows the mind to run wild and in doing so, at least for some fans, enhances the world.
Unfortunately, not everyone is into the whole unexplained story thing and not everyone watching the movie will know all if any comic background. Without the context to fill the gap left by the unexplained, it is easy to get frustrated with the movie, especially when there are these some slow points in the actually plot. At some points while we are literally waiting for things to happen, the gaps in this fictional world become glaringly obvious which really begs the question, why didn’t they do a proper lead in?
All in all, James Mangold‘s Logan is easily the best Wolverine movie the X-Men franchise has managed to churn out, thought that in itself isn’t saying much. The acting is strong and the actual film story is beautiful tragedy that demands to be felt. Even with a couple pacing issues here and there, the overwhelming emotion and intensity of the gory combat more than make up for it. In a time where we see at least 5 superhero movies hitting the big screen a year, Logan is a breath of fresh air as it does not inherently feel like a superhero movie.
Logan is the story of a man who has suffered all his life coming to terms with the horrible things he has done. He discovers that no matter how bleak the world, there is still hope as he endeavours to secure a future for the surrogate daughter who has the potential to be better than he ever was. Comic fan or not, Superhero fan or not, Logan is definitely a must see for everyone – of an appropriate age. It makes a statement.