It has been 17 years since the first X-Men movie where we were introduced to Logan aka Wolverine. We’ve seen him in an endless torrent of sequels that has delighted fans but led to a weakness: even the best of these films lacks any real tension because audiences know these are after all superhero movies and their ending would rather be ‘happy’ than grim and that these movies aren’t really going to end as long as they are gonna make money. Fortunately, Logan breaks this trend and makes it easier to accept that things can go awry, even for superheroes. It’s a superhero movie that has the balls to let it go and to end it all.
With Logan, director James Mangold finally pulls the plug on Hugh Jackman’s 17-year-long stint as Wolverine; the pinnacle of both his career and the entire X-Men franchise. Logan is definitely an adult superhero movie: it never shies away from being dark and violent, its unflinching, yet deeply moving. Loosely based on Marvel’s Old Man Logan arc, the story follows an older Wolverine past his glory days, living in a bleak, not-so-post-apocalyptic future. The surly mutant and lifelong loner has almost lost his will to live and is only concerned about a certain individual’s wellbeing, the next best thing he has to a father: Charles Xavier. To top it off, while he’s trying to cope up with his responsibilities and the torment thats he’s gone through over the years, he’s been entrusted to protect a young mutant: Laura.
It’s the last ride for Hugh Jackman in Logan, and he isn’t leaving without one last fight. Hugh Jackman yet again steals the limelight as an ageing, exhausted and possibly dying Logan. From the first X-Men, the story arc almost always counted on Jackman’s Logan to be the centre of attention. If Jackman deserves an Academy Award I still would say it’d be for Les Miserable or The Fountain but had there been a third choice it most definitely would be for his performance in Logan. The actor has put in so much heart in the character through the years that its impossible to see anybody else step into the same shoes. Yes, the claws, snarls and ferocity still makes Wolverine we’ve seen and read in movies and comics but Jackman single handedly has made a short, hunched, cigar chomping comic character believable and the most adored in the X-Men franchise. The end of the Wolverine saga features one final, major roadblock at the end of Logan’s exhaustive journey with a young mutant named Laura. The first time you lay eyes on Dafne Keen’s Laura, you’d know she’s got something up her sleeve. Since act one, the movie quite smartly nudges at how badass she really was and its only when she goes full on feral that you realise that she’s more animal than a helpless child. Dafne has only a few lines throughout the movie but the way she portrays the character with the right amount of innocence and ferocity is commendable.
As I previously mentioned, Logan is only concerned about one thing: taking Charles and himself to safety and have a possible peaceful ‘finale’. After all, they both deserve it after the torment they have gone through. Its is truly heartbreaking to see Charles Xavier, one of the most powerful mutants in the X-Men franchise, be in a state of dementia and constantly fighting off his now ‘uncontrollable psychic powers’. There’s a lot of little nudges in the movie, that Mangold occasionally injects, that beefs up the story which includes ‘what happened to all the other mutants?’. With Logan, Patrick Stewart has gotten the best stage he’s ever had in the X-Men franchise. He was able to bring in much more drama and emotion to his character which previously was never seen in the franchise but most of all it was the father-son-esque chemistry between Logan and Xavier that brings in a feeling on warmth in an other wise grim movie.
One thing that completely took me out of the movie was the introduction of a character that felt forced and gratuitous. X-24 felt more like a plot device and to raise unnecessary stakes. The addition felt genuinely cheesy and having Hugh Jackman play him made it more awkward. I had no clue that X-24 would be a baddie in the movie and has taken away major chunk of charm from the movie. Talking about villains, Boyd Holbrook’s Donald Pearce was all the antagonist that Logan ever needed. There was no need for Dr. Rice or X-24 because Pearce itself felt intimidating and a true threat to whatever Logan is up to in his last stand. But the real antagonist of the movie is Logan himself, him opening up to his daughter is a bigger challenge than any Donald Pearce, X-24 or a Sentinel.
Minutes into Logan, you forget that this is in fact a superhero movie. Mangold has crafted a movie that, much like The Dark Knight, walks the fine line with comicbook fantasy and reality. Logan is definitely one of those rare gems. The movie is rooted in reality and even handles meta topics like the comicbooks it was based on. Its a little ingenuity that initially feels cheesy but makes a difference for the narrative. It is a different superhero movie than anyone might expect. With a rare R-rating, the film allowed James Mangold to go mad like never before. He embraced the chaos, and allowed his team to get graphic. Still, Mangold exercised restraint where necessary, which made all the difference. Marco Beltrami’s score is yet another element that stands out from the movie. The title track itself doesn’t sound anything like from a superhero/comicbook movie. The mournful piece from the the piano syncs well what Logan is going through and calling it ‘haunting’ would be a severe understatement.
If I had to draw comparisons, the first thing that comes to my mind is Naughty Dog’s video game magnum opus: The Last Of Us. Logan wasn’t as emotionally draining as the video game but it does have a striking resemblance: a protagonist who’s lost everything unwillingly takes up the task to take a (badass) kid from point a to point b and then bonds with them. Agreed, the movie is a bit cliched and a few notches above average. It is actually the swan song for Hugh Jackman’s character and there were a ton of little things that made Logan outstanding. Logan is heavy on emotions, action and violence (Thanks to the R rating) and more melancholic than any superhero movie ever. It is genuinely heart warming and heart wrenching and towards the end when Logan says “so that’s what it feels like”, anybody who’s even slightly invested in the characters would have felt that lump in their throats.
17 Years. 9 movies. One Wolverine. Thank you, Hugh Jackman.