By Matthew Dillon
Logan is Hugh Jackman’s last outing as Wolverine, the Canadian, clawed mutant superhero that serves as the face of the X-Men. It follows an elderly and exhausted Wolverine’s travels in the year 2029 after he’s lost everyone and everything other than an increasingly erratic Professor X.
An encounter with a strange girl named Laura sends him and Professor X on a trek across the near future in the now mutant-less America, once again hunted and hated. Despite being a pretty big comic book and X-Men fan, I’ve never really liked Fox’s take on the franchise. But, Logan is a surprisingly emotional and a fitting sendoff for a beloved character.
Like a lot of Wolverine stories, Logan isn’t really a superhero story in any real capacity. A scene in which an enraged Wolverine brandishes a bunch of comic books loosely based on his adventures as an X-Man and declares them to be fabricated “S***” really hammers in that point. There are a lot of callbacks to the previous X-Men films, but Logan is so far removed from them that they aren’t required viewing. The previous X-Men films are also nowhere near as dramatic, compelling or well-written as Logan, which further separates this movie from its predecessors.
What makes Logan really stand out is its R-rating, which it fully exploits to the most grisly ends. Logan’s characters drop F-bombs left and right, and Wolverine’s claws leave the gruesome injuries they logically should. A lot of emphasis is put on head-stabs, to the point where one drawn out scene more or less entirely consists of Wolverine stabbing frozen gunmen in the head.
Even as someone who’s pretty immune to this sort of stuff, I thought Logan was a very grisly film with some truly disturbing visuals. Viewers with weak stomachs should steer clear of Logan. While there have been a lot of very adult Wolverine comics, it’s still strange to see Professor X use the f-word.
Logan’s greatest strength is its compelling characters and amazing acting. Hugh Jackman has always played a stellar Wolverine, but Logan is easily his best take on the character. Jackman perfectly captures the mutant’s painful slide into old age both physically and emotionally. Patrick Stewart is a perfect Professor X, and the British actor does an amazing job bringing a lot of emotion and tragedy to the character. He gives a very convincing performance of a wistful, increasingly decrepit teacher who no longer has any students.
Yet the breakout star of Logan is by far the 10-year-old Laura who, despite having almost no dialogue, is a compelling and complex character who probably the most interesting thing to come out of Fox’s X-Men movies. Dafne Keen, who plays Laura, is the best child actor I’ve seen in any movie in a long time and does a great job conveying emotion without saying a single word.
Logan has outstanding cinematography and writing, far beyond most other superhero films. While some of the conventions of the genre, both good and bad, do pop up, it still manages to stand out from the rest. The characters are far more developed, complex and ambiguous than you would expect from the genre, and the film isn’t afraid to go to some truly dark places.
While I thought the conclusion was very satisfying, certain elements did seem to have only been included to test audience interest in a possible sequel or spinoff. The soundtrack was very dramatic and perfect for the tone of the film, which is more than I can say for most other works in the genre. Logan is an action-packed, surprisingly emotional and epic sendoff for Wolverine, and is easily one of the best superhero films and a great action flick to boot.