Over the past 17 years the comic book genre has taken the world by storm. With each year yielding more and more comic book based movies, and with these movies more and more comic book icons. While some people in the world have started throwing around the phrase “comic-book fatigue” one comic book movie icon that has stood the test of time since the year 2000 is Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine. And Logan is reportedly the last film that we will be seeing Jackman’s character, and it very much plays on that fact.
Now don’t begin to think that this film is just meant to make you tear up at the thought of no more Wolverine – it is a deliciously violent movie, filled with stabbings, loss of limbs, profanity, and tackles very adult themes like depression, and the act of growing old. It’s also extremely entertaining – reminding me of Western films about an old gunslinger (in this case Wolverine) riding out on one more doomed quest for glory. This is very different from any other comic book movie that I’ve seen in the past 17 years. It would have been very easy for James Mangold (the director) to make Logan a movie that just recycles the character’s greatest moments leading up to a great superhero battle, or just add loads meaningless gore just to get that R rating because that strategy worked well for Deadpool. He goes for something very different, and it pays off not only as an entertaining comic book/western, but also as a proper send off for Jachman’s Wolverine.
Logan is set in the future, year 2029 if I’m remembering correctly, and several after mutants have been thought extinct from the world, including the X-Men. Mangold and his co-writers, Scott Frank and Michael Green, have carefully made sure not to attach this story in any way to the timeline established by other X-Men films. Stating in various interviews that Logan is supposed to be a standalone Wolverine story, not worrying about what other X-Men are doing or what happened to them. In fact, the only other recognizable mutant from previous films besides Wolverine is Patrick Stewart’s Charles Xavier, the former leader of the X-Men, who in this film, is slowly losing his mind to dementia. You can only imagine the danger dementia can cause to a mutant whose power is to read/control the mind of those around him, and the film does demonstrate that. The only other main protagonist is an eleven-year-old girl named Laura, played by Dafne Keen, who shows up on Xavier and Wolverine’s doorstep having just escaped from a secret facility where she had been grown into a living weapon – brandishing adamantium claws and brutal rage. That sound like another other Mutant you know?
While I would absolute consider Logan an original film, Mangold does not hide that he uses the formula of Westerns films that have come before, like Unforgiven and the 1953 film Shane. Interestingly, you actually see Xavier and Laura watching Shane at one point in the film, drawing parallels between that movie’s protagonist – a grim gunfighter who fights for the good guys but does not consider himself one of them, and Wolverine – a grim claw bearing mutant who is a trained killer that fights for the good guys but does not consider himself one of them. The Unforgiven reference is not as in your face, but it’s still pretty obvious. In Unforgiven, Clint Eastwood’s character is dealing with the regret of several years of killing, and only has enough juice for one last mission. This is, step for step, what Wolverine’s character is dealing with throughout Logan.
This is not a mark against the film. If anything, I applaud the film creators for having the balls to follow in the western footsteps of old. Over the past several years, westerns have not done well at the box office. And only a few out of the ones created would I even consider “good.” However, Mangold, and his writers, were able to create a western with a comic book spin, making it very entertaining, immersive, and original.
While I can applaud the director for being original in his comic book western merger (yes, its original because no other comic book movie has yet to do this) I have to say Logan does not work without Jackman, Stewart and Keen. Their acting brings warmth to an otherwise dark and dreary storyline. And the grouchy humor between Jackman and Stewart is more entertaining than it should be. What I am even more impressed by is Keen’s acting opposite Jackman and Stewart. The twelve-year-old actress beautifully plays three different roles in one character – a vicious animalistic child, a kid who acts very adult-like due to being forced out of childhood from birth, and an adult like child still keeping a youthful innocence. Sound confusing? It is, and most child actors would not be able to pull all of that off. I am definitely looking forward to seeing Keen in more projects, because after Logan she will be getting lots of work offers.
I do have to say the film does feel a bit long. And while that has been a pretty heavy mark against other films in the past, I feel I can’t do the same with Logan because I can’t find were in the film I would cut down the story. I like all of the brutally violent scenes (in fact I could have even gone for more), and I very much liked all of the character moments and character development. There may be five minutes right before the third act that could be trimmed out, but that’s all I could find.
If you haven’t figured it out already, I very much enjoyed this film and encourage everyone to see it – minus those too young to watch an R-rated movie, keep those young people home. If this is truly Jackman’s final run at the Wolverine role, then I have to say that Logan is the best way to send off the character. While it just a bit long, it makes up for it with great action, violence, characters, and story. And, in a beautiful way, salutes Jackman as he rides out into the sunset. This is by far the best film put out in 2017 so far, and I highly doubt this film does not make it into my top 10 movies this year. Logan gets an almost perfect score of 4.75/5!