Logan ‘Spoiler-Free’ Review
It was just a few months ago that the first teaser for Logan landed and with it came some of the grittiest and most violent imagery we’ve ever seen from an X-movie, all over layed with Johnny Cash’s haunting cover of Hurt. From that moment, millions were transfixed. Logan would be Hugh Jackman’s last time as Wolverine as well as being the conclusion to the Wolverine trilogy, the last two James Mangold has helmed. With Fox riding insanely high off of the runaway success of Deadpool, Mangold and Jackman were allowed to take Wolverine off the leash and were given leeway to make a hard R take on the character. After what has been one the best marketing campaigns I’ve ever seen, Logan finally arrives in theatres and it is easily one of the finest X-Men films, a top contender for all comic book movies and is more than a fitting end to an era.
In the near future, we find Logan, an old man who has retired the Wolverine mantle, scraping a miserable existence in a mutantless society. He and the seemingly only other mutant left alive, Caliban, care for an ailing and fragile Charles Xavier. Xavier’s once great mind is plagued by ailment as his memory loss and hallucinations keep him bedridden. Logan tries his best to keep Xavier’s powers under control as they all trudge on, waiting for death. The bitter and broken Logan himself is dying, his powers waning and his age fast catching up to him. When he’s approached by a woman for help, he ends up taking care of a girl who is remarkably familiar and is being chased by an army hell bent on getting her back.
“Logan finally arrives in theatres and it is easily one of the finest X-Men films, a top contender for all comic book movies and is more than a fitting end to an era.”
As you have probably read already, Logan’s broken state is based around the Old Man Logan book, something Jackman and Mangold obviously love very much. No, precious little else is taken from the book, but the growling, beaten, alcoholic Logan that we find in the opening frames of the film is a long departure from the Wolverine that hacked and slashed his way in previous outings. For lack of a better word, this Logan is broken. His healing factor is leaving him, he’s haunted by the past and by an unspoken mystery in particular. It’s as if all of Logan’s past has finally caught up to him and he is trying to drown the pain until the Reaper finally comes to claim him. Couple that with the rantings of Xavier caught in the thralls of dementia and things are much, much different than last we left them.
So much of this is brought across in tone by the haunting music and the steady hand of James Mangold. Say what you will of The Wolverine, but I felt Mangold understood the Wolverine character better than anyone else who had tackled him thus far. Obviously, he has rapport with Hugh Jackman because Jackman turns in a simply incredible performance. Swearing, grunting and spitting his way through the movie, Jackman embodies Old Man Logan, a person so haunted by what has happened, it’s physically consuming him. I don’t know what Jackman channelled to bring this performance to the screen, but he brings you on a rollercoaster of emotion. From the chilling sadness that creeps into you as you watch him sink further into destructive depression, to the lilting highs of the quiet, familial moments, and even to the sadistic grins when the Wolverine bares his fangs, Jackman commands the screen and sucks you in.
The rest of the cast are no slouches here, though. Boyd Holbrook is disdainfully wicked as Pierce, the leader of the Reavers who are hunting Jackman and crew. The brand new Dafne Keen is precious and precocious as she screeches and annihilates everyone in her path as X-23. Stephen Merchant even surprised me by being a compelling Caliban who brought a little humour to the opening act of the film. Not enough can be said, of course, for Patrick Stewart. Apparently, he is also giving up the role of Xavier after this (I’ll believe it when I see it), but if it’s true, there could be no finer goodbye. Seeing Xavier bedridden and riddled with dementia was heartbreaking, but to then turn and give such a touching performance when Xavier’s father role came full circle was simply wonderful. The cast really brought all the pieces of this film together.
“Say what you will of The Wolverine, but I felt Mangold understood the Wolverine character better than anyone else who had tackled him thus far.”
As you can probably also imagine, giving the Wolverine an R rating was the greatest thing that could ever, ever happen to an X-Men fan. To finally here Wolvie dropping F-bombs like it was going out of style and to see a fully unleashed Beserker Rage on the big screen gave me chills! Throw in some X-23 slashing and the violence and gore was ramped up to extreme levels. The thing Mangold did well with the violence, though, is that it wasn’t gratuitous, it was just simply what would happen if a walking killing machine with unbreakable claws decided to start slashing people with them. Yes, eventually the healing factor does lend itself to some pretty ridiculous gore, but it never felt like the film revelled in the violence. It was just another part of the character that needed to be explored.
Which is ultimately what makes this film so good. It’s the exploration of Logan as a character – someone we’ve known, grown up with or watched his exploits across many movies. We see what his tattered life led him to, the dark abyss that all the lives he’s claimed, all the people he’s lost, and all the horror he was subjected to pulled him into. But we also see who Logan truly is under all the mutant powers, adamantium and unbridled rage. Yeah, let’s not pretend that the violent and explosive set pieces aren’t a huge, integral part to this film. However, it’s the small, quiet parts in between that really set this apart from not only the franchise, but from most comic book films. It’s when Logan, Xavier and X-23 go shopping, or eat dinner or when Logan has to tend for Xavier, essentially his father. It’s those moments that you get a glimpse behind the tortured psyche of our favourite hero and see the humanity behind the killing machine.
There’s a very poignant scene where Xavier watches TV with X-23 and he shows her an old western, Shane. Shane was a gunslinger who was looking to leave his past behind him as he journeyed across the West. He came upon a man in trouble, befriended his family and became a different kind of father figure to the young son. A seemingly perfect friendship was formed between Shane and the family until a black hat killer came into the valley, began killing at will and Shane’s past came back to haunt him. It was a favourite movie of mine when I was growing up and the links Mangold drew between it and Logan are clear as day. With Logan; however, no one simply gets to ride off into the sunset. A well worded speech and a speedy unholstering won’t set everything right. Logan is visceral, dirty and grimy while also being touching, heartfelt and poetic in places. There could be no more fitting an end to the story of Logan, the Wolverine.
Thanks for everything, Mr. Jackman. It’s been a great 17 years. Logan is now playing everywhere.
• A terrific send off to an icon
• Finally a no holds barred Wolverine
• Equally gritty, violent, touching and emotional
• What timeline does this take place in