Jake Richardson | 5/03/2017
This ultra-violent, expletive laden, character driven Wolverine film proves to be the best X-Men film of them all.
Logan is set in 2029, in a future where mutants have been all but wiped out. No new mutants have been born for 20 years, and we find three of the last remaining ones hiding out in an abandoned old factory in Mexico – Wolverine/Logan (Hugh Jackman), Professor X (Patrick Stewart) and albino tracker Caliban (Stephen Merchant). Logan is making a living driving a ludicrous Chrysler limousine, but he is old, tired and soaked in whiskey. His powers are fading, with one of his claws not quite coming all the way out, and his (inevitable) wounds taking longer to heal. Professor X, meanwhile, is battling a degenerative brain condition that has seen his mind classified as a “weapon of mass destruction” by the US Government, as villain Pierce (Boyd Holdbrook) so gleefully exclaims.
"Here, given free rein to make something unique for Jackman's swansong as the adamantium-infused hero, he nails the tone."
While going about his day job, Logan is approached by a woman and her child, Laura. A shadowy organisation is on their tails, and they need Logan’s help to get them to Eden, a supposed haven for mutants, because, according to Charles, this young child is the first new mutant born in nearly a quarter of a century.
What is most remarkable about Logan is that it was directed by James Mangold, the same director as 2013’s The Wolverine. Whereas Mangold’s previous effort was widely derided by critics and cinemagoers alike, here, given free rein to make something unique for Jackman’s swansong as the adamantium-infused hero, he nails the tone. Logan is violent, gritty and savage, much like the character should be. Mangold doesn’t waste time delving into unnecessary exposition, instead giving us glimpses of the world that exists in this alternate reality. We get enough information to keep us going, but not enough to feel beaten over the head with it. It provokes the audiences imagination, and doesn’t treat them like fools; for that, Mangold should be applauded.
The film is also hyper-violent. Blood spatters walls, as Wolverine and the young girl (who has a familiar set of claws as well), tear limbs from their owner’s bodies and force adamantium through eyeballs, throats, chests and skulls. Finally, the savagery of Wolverine is unleashed on the screen how it should be, and it is resoundingly satisfying.
Jackman gives a pitch-perfect performance, layering his alcoholic, grouchy anti-hero with all the depth acquired from 17 years of playing him. He is deftly supported by an at times introspective and quiet, and at other times loud and shouty, performance from Patrick Stewart, and a star-making turn from Dafne Keen as young Laura. Anytime the trio is on screen, the chemistry is a joy to witness. All three give spectacular performances.
The villains of the piece are typically shadowy, which is in some senses a shame. Boyd Holbrook brings some nice shades to his Pierce, and is entertaining, but a ‘twist’ regarding mutant X-24 falls somewhat flat (albeit paying off in some exciting action sequences).
The action, at least for the majority of the film, is particularly intriguing. Well co-ordinated and shot, it makes excellent use of the film’s longer leash and really lets the blood fly. If the final sequence is somewhat repetitive and incomprehensible, it is only a slight flaw in what is otherwise the most exciting series of fight scenes in any X-Men movie yet.
If criticism can be levelled, it would be at the run time. Logan is long at 2 hours and 17 minutes, and while this isn’t necessarily a bad thing for a film in general, this one drags slightly at different points. A little bit tighter, and Logan would have been 5 stars.
Logan is a drawn out character study into one of the great characters of cinema in the past few decades. James Mangold and Hugh Jackman have put together something really special; an introspective superhero film that, with it’s hard-R-rating, ultra-violence, swearing matches and unique ending, gives us a tear-jerking, heart-rending send off to a character that is beloved. Logan is a beautiful picture that, aside from being the best X-Men movie ever made, may well be the best superhero movie too.