Logan is an exceptional film about a comic book character! It is however not a superhero film.
I know, I know – just let me get there!
Hugh Jackman has been playing Wolverine for 17 years now – through good (X2: X-Men United) and bad (X-Men Origins: Wolverine) thick and thin. He’s the best there is at what he does and what he’s done is pretty amazing! It will be difficult to see another actor sport the tank top and claws as Jackman has left some mighty shoes to fill. It’s fitting then that his final performance of everyone’s favorite Canucklehead would be his best.
Logan is every bit as dark and gritty as you’ve heard but I would like to take away the “dark” part – visceral is a much more fitting word. Jackman’s performance is at times gut wrenching and director James Mangold captures it and the violent world Wolverine inhabits perfectly.
Speaking of which, the violence is positively brutal…and I mean that in a really good way. It’s so good to see a film with this character that finally owns how terrible the human destruction would be in the wake of a berserker barrage. But as much as reading that might be a turn off for some, there isn’t really any gratuitous gore. The fights are all orchestrated in an intense but evenhanded way so that when something truly shocking does happen it still really hits you.
We all know Patrick Stewart is a phenomenal actor but his portrayal of a broken feeble Charles Xavier is beautiful and heartbreaking. Prof. X and Wolverine are alone after all – the X-men are gone, the Sentinels are gone, there is no Magneto, or a Brotherhood of Mutants. They are both at the end of their ropes when what little they have is thrown into disarray and danger with the arrival of a girl named Laura. Actor Dafne Keen is not given much to work with but she sells the viciousness of X-23. I was also very pleased with the original villain of Boyd Holbrook’s Pierce – like the best bad guys he thinks he’s doing the right thing and that makes him all the more engaging and dangerous.
I’d love to talk more about the story but it would mean massive spoilers – the film does clip along at a nice pace but admittedly does sag pretty hard in the middle and the end seemed rushed in a way but that does not detract from the overall quality.
The last I’ll say of it is that the western movie redemption story Logan clearly takes inspiration from is well earned. It’s no mistake that 1953’s Shane is heavily referenced.
Now to the controversial part – Logan isn’t really a superhero film…and let it be known that I think this is something others in this genre could learn from!
The story is not based off the Old Man Logan graphic novel, it is totally original. There are many things they could have done to make it more of a traditional superhero movie but instead opted for something more complex and character driven, all while still showcasing some fantastic action. It’s on a smaller scale with a simpler logic – there are almost no other characters from the comics and no big CG final fight. It’s more personal and character driven. For example, they had a perfect opportunity to use a villain from the comics in place of a particular mutant adversary Wolverine faces off with in the film, but they didn’t. Instead they kept it rooted in the more grounded logic crafted for this story.
Films like last years Suicide Squad and Captain America: Civil War could have learned from this – scale down the spectacle and humanize these characters. At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter if they can punch a mountain in half or control things with their minds or whatever other fantastic power you can think of – these people’s greatest strength is their depth of character. It’s what makes them timeless.
If you know me you know I prefer my superhero’s serious and with great depth, but not at the expense of losing heart – for me that is where you get the most compelling stories. Where they are broken and conflicted but still push forward never losing sight of doing good.
Logan is a perfect example of this and the film captures it beautifully.
I’m sure I was not the only one who welled up with tears toward the end – Logan is exceptional and I can’t recommend it enough.