By: Alex Elias
Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine has been a focal point and driving force throughout the entirety of the X-Men franchise’s seventeen year tenure in film. 20th Century Fox’s Logan marks the end of that era, with Jackman having reported that it will be his last X-men film –and that this time – he means it. And what a way to go out.
Logan, the third film in the X-men series to focus on the character of Wolverine, is also the first film in the franchise to receive an R-rating. I don’t mean to insinuate that 20th Century Fox has wasted our time these past seventeen years, but I can say that they finally gave us what we wanted with no-holds-barred. The character of Wolverine; capable of healing any wound except for the deep scars that permeate his psyche; fueled by rage and a desire to be left alone dipped in a cruel despondency; by his very nature a force of violence and destruction and one that can only reign supreme in an R-rated setting. This is to say that Logan was very, VERY violent – and it was bloody awesome. Pun intended.
The film takes place in the year 2029 in the Midwest. Logan (Hugh Jackman), looking rather good for someone well past his 100th birthday – but a bit longer-in-the-tooth than we remember him – has been working as a limousine driver, saving up money so that he may continue to both hide and provide for a senile professor Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart) who’s mind has been classified by the government as a weapon of mass destruction. The film begins by establishing a world familiar to the viewers, but new to the X-men – that is a world virtually free of mutants. After a rather slow, but well-crafted beginning, Logan’s rash actions have him spotted near Phoenix, Arizona – prompting him to be tracked down by a woman and her daughter seeking help from the great Wolverine. Logan, who’s heart is the one thing that can never truly heal, tells the woman she and her daughter can kindly fu*k off. Only, without the kindly. But, of course, circumstances (or perhaps fate) would bring Logan and the girl together once more as well as the motorcade of government assassins, the savvy hunter and the mad scientist who are all after her. As you may or may not have seen from the trailer for Logan the girl, Laura (Dafne Keen), is a powerful and dangerous mutant with similar abilities to Wolverine; emphasis on dangerous. What follows then is “je ne sais quoi” – beauty in chaos – a red-stained menagerie of bodies, a treacherous journey across the desert and some of the best acting I’ve ever seen in a Marvel film.
Wolverine has always been a man of few words and in the past, I’ve always thought Hugh Jackman’s animalistic performance was so serious and melodramatic it read as funny. In Logan, the rage monster has been all but buried by age and we are left with a broken shell of a man that Jackman portrays rather brilliantly. Stewart’s character, Charles Xavier, is similarly nearing the end of his long life and also does a terrific job of reminding us that the genius that once was Professor X is still in there, finding moments to poke through.
Logan feels very different from other X-men titles and not just because of the new rating and the violence that goes along with it. Rather than a team of odd heroes living together in a school, waiting for the world to end, in Logan we have a journey – both literally and figuratively. Logan is forced to act to protect all that he has left and all that he has ever loved – he must do so in spite of himself. Somewhere along the line, he rediscovers what it means to be selfless. Just imagine it – a character known for having the personality of a statue successfully supporting a character-driven movie. Suffice it to say, Logan has more depth than I ever expected from an X-men film and the marvelous acting and script factored in heavily.
The film was not perfect. Parts of it drag, especially the beginning, and the pacing felt somewhat uneven and jittery. There are brief pockets of humor and some fun Easter-eggs, but Wolverine is so fundamentally different than some of the more jokester Marvel architypes that having the amount of humor even a normal action movie contains would have felt forced… So, the film is pretty serious and rightfully so.
Final Consensus: Overall, Logan was far better than I ever expected. I thoroughly enjoyed it and this is coming from someone who has never liked an X-men film other than First Class, which Wolverine was not a part of. The fight scenes featuring Laura are so well-done and fast-paced, you’d think they were performed by an actual ninja. The film is micro, but contains an X-men worthy epic conclusion and some of the best action-choreography to ever grace the marvel universe.