In the near future, a weary Logan cares for an ailing Professor X in a hide out on the Mexican border. But Logan’s attempts to hide from the world and his legacy are up-ended when a young mutant arrives, being pursued by dark forces.
Hugh Jackman has played the iconic X-Men character ‘Wolverine’ for 17 years now, across 9 films, 3 of which have been efforts solely focused on his character. This is his final portrayal and it’s certainly Jackman’s finest performance in the role, and arguably the best showcase for the character to date. If the character does come back with a different actor, they’ll have big shoes to fill. The story follows an elderly Logan in a future where mutants are on the brink of extinction, as he works his days away in Texas in order to scrape cash together to buy the drugs he badly needs. He’s living with a senile Professor X (Patrick Stewart) and Caliban (Stephan Merchant), when a young girl (Dafne Keen) comes across his path and partly against his will, he ends up having to protect the girl from a group of killers. ‘Logan’ feels more like an independent drama than a film based on a comic book, and its influences are drawn more from westerns than from the pages of a comic book. In the oversaturated world of Marvel films that need to stick rigidly to an agreed formula, it’s refreshing to see Fox pushing the boundaries with the kinds of stories comic book adaptations can tell, from last year’s meta-comedy ‘Deadpool’ to this ode to the legendary X-Men character.
For anyone who follows my reviews regularly, you’ll have perhaps noticed an ongoing frustration on my part with recent comic book adaptations, which seem to have settled into a consistent but unambitious groove in order to build cinematic universes rather than focusing on the stories they’re telling as individual films. ‘Logan’ is the antithesis to these successful, but by the numbers movies, and it’s great to see a comic book film with a lot to say for itself and a willingness to challenge the status quo. In a role he’s played for 17 years, Jackman still manages to find extra depth and his brooding intensity feels more poignant given we know this is his last hurrah as the character. Jackman’s last full outing as this character was in the disappointingly dull ‘The Wolverine’, and that suggested the time for the character may be up. ‘Logan’ reasserts this, but in a much more satisfying manner.
The 15 rating allows an extra level of brutality and gore, not to mention swearing, but it all feels true to the character and the story the film is trying to tell. This is James Mangold’s second film about this character after ‘The Wolverine’, and he has a good handle on what makes the character tick, introducing dry humour in sporadic doses but really doubling down on the fight sequences. The action is tightly choreographed, with minimal use of CGI, and this really emphasises every agonising blow that Logan’s body takes. The narrative is loosely based on the alternative X-Men comic ‘Old Man Logan’, and Logan is an old man here, who isn’t healing as well as he used too. Alongside him he has Patrick Stewart’s Professor X, also past his prime, and in a lot of respects ‘Logan’ is about the end of the road for some of the X-Men series most famous characters, and it generates deep wells of emotion as the story plays out.
I thought ‘Logan’ was a refreshing comic book movie that plays out in an almost low key manner, and I felt it was a satisfying, true and honest conclusion to Hugh Jackman’s spell as ‘The Wolverine’.
Directed By: James Mangold
Starring: Hugh Jackman, Patrick Stewart, Richard E. Grant, Boyd Holbrook, Stephen Merchant, Dafne Keen and Eriq La Salle