Hugh Jackman has played Wolverine in eight films. He’s been occupying the skin of the angry mutant against the world for seventeen years. Seventeen years. That is an incredible achievement and one for which he doesn’t get enough credit. But what is most impressive about Jackman’s stint as the character is he keeps getting better. And now, after all this time, Jackman has declared that Logan will be his last outing as the Wolverine. He could not have picked a better film to be his last. Because honestly, for a final bow, this one is pretty unbelievable.
I really feel embarrassed for any X-men films that attempt to come after Logan. There really is no topping this one. James Mangold, the writer and director of this film, has achieved something that very few comic book filmmakers can. He hasn’t just made an entertaining superhero movie, he’s made a genuinely good film. I expect there will be an out lash from moviegoers who attend a screening to discover that Logan isn’t just two stupid hours of Wolverine running around jumping through explosions and doing impossible things, but is rather a grounded, serious, emotional film with real characters and real interactions. Logan exists in a near future in which mutants are dangerously close to extinction. In other words, the X-Men are all dead. All of them except for Wolverine, who goes simply as Logan now, and the ailing Professor Xavier, who Logan’s been caring for in his old age. What’s worse is not only are all the mutants long dead, but no more are being born, or so they think until they find the mysterious Laura arrive on their doorstep. Unfortunately, they aren’t the only ones interested in Laura’s mutation, as an evil corporation will stop at no lengths to terminate her. Thus, a chase ensues and our movie begins.
A reasonable question to ask going in is, “How can Logan possibly show us something we haven’t seen before if we’ve seen Wolverine seven times before this?” Well, the answer is pretty simple; this is the first film in the Xmen oeuvre to achieve an R-Rating. In other words, it’s really, really bloody. This isn’t a negative if anything it’s an absolute positive. Some stories truly succeed with the addition of violence without being extraneous, Logan being one of them. The action scenes are absolutely brutal, with fluid fight choreography and intense, close-counter brawls. Mangold excels at these scenes, with an eye for close combat that doesn’t stray too far into the incomprehensible mess of shaky camerawork that is found in modern action films (last year’s Jason Bourne, for example) The action sequences remind me of Mad Max: Fury Road in the way that they both capture intensity to put you immediately into the scene. Further comparisons with Miller’s film can be found in Logan during fast-paced car chase scenes that elevate the excitement to grand heights without becoming monotonous or overblown as many car chases have the tendency to do (Jason Bourne, again, comes to mind). All of that being said, however, at its heart this is not an action film.
It’s understandable to go into a film starring Hugh Jackman as Wolverine and expect it to be a nonstop action thrill ride. But while you certainly get a series of magnificent action scenes (and man do they pay off), a vast majority of this film is sincere, resonant character interactions. Logan is a drama and a grim one at that. There is very little hope left in our stars, Logan himself is a weathered man. He’s spent a lifetime attempting to make it in this world and has left a lot of injured people in his wake. The true intrigue of this film comes through the dynamic of him and Laura, in whom he sees a lot of himself. We learn a lot about this character we’ve thought we’ve known so well by how he interacts with this little girl. Honestly, the most compelling scenes in this film are dialogue-driven, not clashes of violence. It’s a film that eclipses most others in its genre by daring to be something beyond what you’re expecting. Logan isn’t just a great comic book film. It’s a great film period. Every moving part works together flawlessly to compose this into a genuine opus. I’ve already sung the praises of James Mangold’s direction, but I’ll sing them again. He was terrific. Just terrific. The screenwriter crafted the dialogue with ingenuity. The film takes a bit of a detour about 2/3 of the way through, but it gets back on track seamlessly, so overall it proves inconsequential. The acting is remarkable. The young Dafne Keen reveals herself to be a force to be reckoned with going forward. She was unbelievably impressive in the role of Laura, conveying emotion and providing impact with just the way she raises an eyebrow or directs a gaze. If nothing else, she deserves recognition just for being able to hold her own against the veteran Hugh Jackman, who, for all intents and purposes, deserves a lifetime achievement award for his time as Wolverine. Jackman is so unbelievably good in this movie that by the moment it ended I expected the entire world to stand and ovate. He’s been playing Logan for as many years as I’ve been alive. I cannot begin to fathom the sort of dedication such a thing requires. I am beside myself with joy to think about how magnificent of a Swan Song he was given. Logan is an incredible film. It is the best superhero movie since The Dark Knight and deserves to be talked about for many years to come.
All images came from Logan, a film by 20th Century Fox