Logan is the tenth instalment in the X-Men franchise and chronicles the titular Logan nearing the end of his rope so to speak. Mutant life is non-existent, there’s a shadowy organisation known as Transigen controlling the world behind the scenes, and Logan’s doing the best by becoming the world’s grouchiest limo-driver as a means of earning some dosh to make life easier for himself and an ailing Charles Xavier. It’s only when Logan crosses paths with Laura that he and Xavier are thrown into one final adventure before their time comes, and boy is it truly an emotional one.
Whether you like it or not, this truly is Hugh Jackman’s final time playing Wolverine after donning the claws more than once for the past seventeen years, but he sure picked a fitting story to go out on. Director James Mangold returns to direct after making a damn great impression in 2013’s underrated The Wolverine (particularly the extended cut), and with this movie, he absolutely delivers with, what is, a brutal film on both a violent and emotional level. This film holds nothing back when it comes to both blood and tears (there are two key moments that’ll leave you baling your eyes out); this isn’t a safe, played-by-the-numbers type of movie we’re talking about here since the violence is visceral and the feels are deep and gut-wrenching. Despite the fact that the action seen in this film is probably the best we’ve seen in an X-Men movie, where this movie succeeds most is in its character-driven story full of pathos, vulnerability and uncertainty.
When we first see Logan in this movie, we see just how war-weary and broken down he his, likewise with Xavier, so we are shown just how far these characters have fallen, how they are now just shadows of their former selves and are almost devoid of hope. The trailers perfectly illustrated the tone for what to expect, as it is very sombre and bleak, yet is also fun when needed to be. In terms of tone, this is perhaps closer to Mangold's 3:10 to Yuma in just how bleak, violent and absolutely heartbreaking a lot of it is. In many ways, this also feels like an old-style western in the same vein as Unforgiven, while also being of the same mould as films like The Guantlet or Badlands; it very much embodies the look and feel of a ‘70s film and it plays to this exceptionally well.
Of course, this story wouldn’t be complete without incredible performances, and that is certainly the case when it comes to the powerhouse trio of Hugh Jackman, Patrick Stewart and Dafne Keen. Ever since he brought life into the adamantium-infused anti-hero back in 2000, Jackman’s portrayal of the character was so universally received since that, even after all this time and going through some lows (The Last Stand and Origins: Wolverine), nobody wanted him to quit, which goes to show just how much he has resonated with the audience after seventeen years. Hugh Jackman IS Wolverine, and this is his movie, and though he has given phenomenal performances in films like Les Miserables and Prisoners, Jackman gives the performance of his career, and if he doesn’t get nominated in next year’s awards season then something’s wrong for sure.
Patrick Stewart is also astonishing as he gives an unexpected, heartbreaking final portrayal as Xavier who’s become something of a tragic character, yet is someone trying to cling on to any shred of hope and optimism. Stewart embodies that brilliantly, and like Jackman, he completely gets and understands Xavier (despite how great McAvoy has been), so it’s bittersweet to see him bow out along with Jackman. Yet, coming close to stealing the movie from Jackman and Stewart is Dafne Keen, who absolutely nailed Laura Kinney/X-23 and is completely believable in every scene she’s in. At the centre of the movie is this reluctant, yet growing, father-daughter connection between Logan and Laura that’s deeply moving and poignant, and Keen brings so much fierce energy and emotional depth and weight, it makes her an incredible young talent to watch out for.
Logan is as understated a masterpiece as there’s ever been, delivering the Wolverine film we’ve all been waiting for, and if this truly is Hugh Jackman’s final time playing him, he has definitely left the series on a high note. Like last year’s Deadpool, Logan was a risky gamble Fox took and it paid off in more ways than one, delivering a brutally violent, action-packed and emotionally powerful film that bids farewell to two beloved characters that were introduced at a time when superhero movies were just starting to get their foot into modern cinema. Not only is Logan one of the best comic-book movies ever made, let alone possibly the best X-Men movie to date, but it is a truly special film on every possible level.
LOGAN / CERT: 15 / DIRECTOR: JAMES MANGOLD / SCREENPLAY: SCOTT FRANK, JAMES MANGOLD, MICHAEL GREEN / STARRING: HUGH JACKMAN, PATRICK STEWART, RICHARD E. GRANT, DAFNE KEEN, STEPHEN MERCHANT, BOYD HOLBROOK / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW
Expected rating: 8/10