Hugh Jackman puts on the claws for what is apparently the final time, for a role that we have been demanding to see in Wolverine in for years – a rated 18’s film. It was an idea that 20th Century Fox was not very keen on, but as I found out, the combination was pretty spectacular.
Set in 2029, Wolverine aka Logan (Hugh Jackman) is one of the last remaining Mutants in the world, in a set up that isn’t too far off the basis of “Children of Men”, but sadly, no pregnant Wolverine for those demanding it. He lives with the fellow Mutant Caliban (Stephen Merchant), with both looking after the frail and increasingly unstable Professor X. (Patrick Stewart) The long years are beginning to take their toll on Logan, with his healing powers growing less effective, and he has all but given up on reaching out to others. But the arrival of a woman pleading to him to look after a girl named Laura (Dafne Keen), he is dragged into keeping her alive from a group hell-bent on securing her due to her apparent Mutant powers.Logan, Caliban, and Prof. X are on what may be their final road, and that of Mutants too.
If you come into this expecting a family-friendly superhero story, or even a mildly dark tale, you’re in for a pretty fucking big shock. This is easily the darkest that the X-Men movies have ever gone, and it remains like this for the entirety of the running time. After all, Mutants are almost non-existent, Logan’s dying, Professor X is a shadow of his former self, and aid to help them out never arrives. It is utterly bleak and never really tries to sugar coat that aspect at all.
As for how this ties into the previous timeline(s), references are primarily to things which happened after those films, points which I will not spoil for you here at all. However, it does hinge on one event which seems to hint at a major shift and the downfall to where this begins from. It does feel peculiar to see the callbacks reduced to a few instead of many, but I guess it leaves room for some inspection and guesswork to be done by the audience. The X-Men theatrical series isn’t what you would call linear by any standards, so it works for the better I guess.
On to the actual story, and it is one of dire times being interrupted by a desperate and unwanted task leading to a specific destination. Charles Xavier (X) clearly sees great important in it from what he can visualise with his powers. And Caliban is convinced too, but Logan seemingly has failed too many times, and seen too many die to care two fucks anymore. He has grown outrageously unsympathetic even in the tasks where he is trying to help, such as caring for Xavier. The way he has been held is more like imprisonment than anything else, and it is a shock to witness at first. But when you realise just what a danger Xavier is in his state, you understand that there is NO solution to the situation. Logan is trapped and nothing he can do will truly help. The introduction of the kid Laura injects a real sense of purpose to the narrative, and her character brings Logan into a lot of self-conflict both because of who she is, and what she may mean.
But the most recognisable point of this film is the action and violence, because this doesn’t hold back at all. Have you ever wanted to see Logan stab a bastard in the head with his claws? That happens many times here, the two primary fight sequences are absolutely visceral, making you gasp in both shock and glee at the same time. There are some brutal deaths, but even more impressive is that the action is captured really well on camera – solid editing and positioning to keep the battles looking genuine.Fans have been waiting to see this for the longest damm time, and finally, it has been done right.
One other thing that comes to mind, is how… different this feels to every other X-Men film. Everything about the process of directing, lighting, and tone is in a region that hasn’t been entered before. A lot of time is put into making the era look believable, so you don’t see any futuristic tech that would typically smother a film set in this timeframe. And the script is especially raw, there’s very little subtlety to it, except in some moments designed to break the tension with a few laughs.
Hugh Jackman once again steps up to the Logan role in a way that only he could truly achieve. For what is (for now) his final performance, he throws everything and the kitchen sink at it in order to deliver a cracking performance. Because he understands exactly how Logan should react and feel, you really do see the decades of turmoil which has built upon his shoulders. Patrick Stewart gives a performance that had me honestly, anguished at how Charles had turned out. He is sarcastic and hard to reconcile, but extremely feeble and full of remorse. Jackman and himself work brilliantly with each other. Dafne Keen is the most surprisingly good actor here, she really is something else! Perfectly captures the personality and characteristics of Laura, being both ferocious and at the same time, just a kid who has never been exposed to the harsh world.
If I had complaints to aim in the direction of this film, one would be that some of the inserted comedy felt a bit awkward. There were times too where the audience mistakenly saw something as supposed to be funny, but then turned out to be sad, so there are some blurred lines within the script that could have been better defined. Also, the design of the villain group (led by Boyd Holbrook and Richard E. Grant) is a bit uninspired in some areas. Their powers aren’t particularly special and their mannerisms are a bit moustache-twirling at times.
But “Logan” was still an incredible success in what it set out to do – send off old man Logan in a determined, but bittersweet manner that we have all been dying to witness. Patrick Stewart and Hugh Jackman perform immensely well, leading to some moments of “Shit I’ve got something in my eye”, and an ending that felt beautifully thought out. There has been talk of this going up for major awards, and sadly I don’t see that happening in a big style. But that takes nothing away from this being a great superhero tale, told in an era where the hero is at their weakest and in emotional turmoil. I will definitely be seeing this again in the future, there’s little happiness to be found, but the melancholy sadness is absolutely earned.
Thanks for reading!