Logan is a movie that fans have dreamt about! A movie allowing Wolverine to be his true self, using his claws to brutal effect and cut loose from previous PG ratings to a gritty, blood dripping, limb-flying spectacle of a film with a body count true to the brutality we all know Wolverine possesses.
It's a super hero movie like no other, where director James Mangold brilliantly uses an underlying western tone in a modern time, portraying our hero as an ageing gunslinger dealing with his dying body and resented past through the bottom of a bottle.
Logan moves effortlessly away from the previous solo and franchise instalments. Wolverine is now referenced to only as Logan and even his origin name James Howlett, and Professor X is simply Charles which strips the ‘super’ out of our heroes and adds the vulnerable mortal element into the film. It pulls away from that super-hero movie stereotype giving an unseen bleak and dismal yet rich view of the once godly characters diving deep into deterioration, despair and even death.
It's a comic book adaptation that has finally allowed for a serious depth to its characters, with mesmerising performances from both Hugh Jackman and Patrick Stewart, and has traded in assembled casts and high-flying CGI action for a gritty and sorrowful story that expresses not only the physical suffering but also the psychological torment of the once indestructible Marvel titan.
Logan is set in a crummy yet relatable 2029, which is a pleasing far cry from the unrealistic version of the dystopian future set in Days of Future Past. Mutants are a simple bad memory, most are dead or have been hunted down and not a single mutant birth has been recorded for 25 years.
Logan (Hugh Jackman) is working under his origin name, James Howlett, as a limo driver; driving around flashing hen parties and drunk frat boys. His body is aged, scarred and in constant chronic pain from slowly being poisoned by the adamantium bonded to his skeleton. He masks the pain with copious amounts of drinking that fuels his raging outbursts and offensive profanity seen through the movie.
He supports a refuging and feeble Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart), his old mentor. Far from the leader of the X-Men he once was, Charles is now a rambling, medicated old man, in his 90’s, unable to control his fractured powerful mind from violent seizures. Hiding away just south of the border in Mexico, in a desert headquarters, they are joined by a worn and weary Caliban who is helping care for the declining Charles.
Logan is pursued by a woman appealing to his retired do-gooder side, asking for help for her and a child, a young mutant- Laura (Dafne Keen), who is more like Logan than he cares to acknowledge, and compelling a broken Logan to force his claws out to not only protect his father-like figure of Charles but now the child too. The trio are being pursued by a deadly group called The Reavers who are led by cyborg bad boy, Donald Pierce (Boyd Holbrook) an ex-military man and formidable villain who doesn’t care about Logan or the potentially unstable Charles Xavier- his primary target is to get the young mutant back in his clutches before they reach Eden – an apparent safe-haven for mutants.
Logan takes the aged Wolverine element from The Old Man Logan comic series and presents an animalistic Ronin with metallic blades as claws. Instead of pistols, this gunslinger uses his bursts of berserker rage as ammunition when his body looks like it has absolutely nothing left; he throws everything, viciously ripping through The Reavers one limb at a time.
The blunt force power and raw alpha rampage Logan uses is echoed by the deadly elegant manoeuvres and graceful rage that Laura boasts – like a young cub following her father’s footsteps. The young mutant possesses the instability, the mood swings, the violence and the outburst that has been gifted to her from the reconstruction of Logan’s own DNA used to create her- credited by Transigen and Zander Rice, the Reaver’s puppet master; whose own father worked on the Weapon X program involving Wolverine.
She’s a raging reflection of Logan and her vibrant energy seems to reignite a fight inside the despairing hero. The endearing connection between the two underlines Logan’s misery and pain that is cleverly paralleled in the love and hope Laura brings to his dying existence as a last grasp at peace and a feeling of happiness that Logan has forever felt undeserving of.
Logan has a few surprises on the way that add to its rich storyline and a foundation of mesmerising performances as the film has given the actors a chance to develop a rich and emotional aura around the characters that previous outings and ensemble casts hadn’t allowed. Jackman and Stewart bring a tender humanity to this film that is full of tremendous pain and undoubtedly it is their tortured relationship of both resent and need of each other that is the heart of the film.
Stewart turns the once powerful and great mind of Professor X into a helpless and heart-breaking essence of a man that needs to be hauled onto a toilet seat. His frail depiction is a far cry from the powerful telepath Charles once was, but the film overcomes the loss of that stature with an endearing interconnection between Logan and Laura that emphasises the theme of family. Dafne Keen is both ferocious and elegant as Laura, and being an 11-year-old brings a unique dynamic to this film forming a compassionate bond with the two men stuck in the past and driving them forward with hope.
Jackman’s final rendition is captivating, giving us a never seen before Wolverine soaked in remorseful sullen emotion that flows with the raw, broken mechanisms that gives this once everlasting, even immortal, outlaw a very human and fragile identity. Jackman has played this character for 17 years and his grisly, rough and ferocious portrayal is second nature to him, however, Logan has allowed the underlining affection and heartfelt emotion, from his connection to Charles to his sentimental attachment to Laura, to shine through. We have never seen this type of Wolverine and it’s a perfect last effort from Jackman that gives Logan its wow-factor.
All in all, Logan gives us an adult narrative of withering deterioration and grotesque violence dipped in misery and tragedy. But it is the flow of personal connection and emotion that carries the film well after the screen goes black and everyone is leaving. Logan challenges the stereotype of superhero and comic book movies by warranting stand-alone storytelling and weighing in its profanity and brutal violence while at the same time presenting heroism and kindness in a world where hope seems to be lost giving the audience an intense and uncompromising finale.
5/5 Stars - Image credit goes to 20th Century Fox