Cert.: 15 (somehow)
Length: 137 mins
Writer: James Mangold (story); Scott Frank, James Mangold, Michael Green (screenplay)
Dir.: James Mangold
Starring: Hugh Jackman, Patrick Stewart, Dafne Keen, Boyd Holbrook, Stephen Merchant, Richard E. Grant (for some reason)
Full disclosure, I was extremely excited about this movie. Drawing inspiration from the excellent ‘Old Man Logan’ series of comics, the film takes place in a dystopian future that looks remarkably like Trump’s America (probably not an accident). The X-men are gone, mutants are no longer being born, and Logan is hiding out with the ailing and frail Professor X in Mexico. Xavier is dying, slowly losing his grip on reality and his powers. Similarly, Logan’s famous healing factor has slowed to a crawl. He’s scarred, walks with a limp, feeling every year of his not inconsiderable age. It seems like all hope is lost, until they come across a mysterious young girl with similar powers to Logan’s.
All of that is in the trailers by the way, so you can put your pitchforks down.
It’s not at all hyperbolic to say that Logan is, by far and a way, the best X-men movie so far. It’s certainly the best Wolverine film – though I admit that’s not saying much. The most striking difference to the previous X-men universe films is its mature tone and its penchant for graphic violence. In a way, we have the Deadpool movie to thank for this shift – as obvious as it may seem to many fans, the success of Deadpool finally got the message through to studio execs that adults also watch comic book films. It’s definitely a step in the right direction – Wolverine as a character has always felt oddly out of place in the X-men universe, for me. I mean, the man has knives for hands for God’s sake. It’s been said before, but I’ll say it again: this is the Wolverine film that fans deserve, finally doing justice to one of the most popular characters in Marvel’s roster.
Famously of course, this is to be Hugh Jackman’s last outing as Logan – unless Ryan Reynolds manages to convince him to return for a future Deadpool movie (fingers crossed). Jackman has been playing Wolverine for over 16 years now, and his turn here is genuinely some of the best acting he has ever done. He perfectly portrays a near broken man, burdened with pain both emotional and physical, ploughing on only out of a sense of duty and habit. It’s a genuine shame that this is his last movie in the role – but it’s a hell of a send off.
The supporting cast are also on top form – Patrick Stewart is obviously fantastic and seems to be enjoying himself immensely as the decrepit and sweary Professor X. I was initially skeptical about Stephen Merchant’s involvement in the movie, given that I don’t think I’ve seen him in a ‘serious’ role before, but he does well here. Boyd Holbrook is brilliantly menacing as the main antagonist (sort of), and Dafne Keen, who plays the young girl Laura, does a great job – despite not having many lines.
While it’s aesthetically and tonally different to the previous X-men movies, an aspect that I liked about Logan was that it’s oddly respectful of the films that came before – even the terrible ones. There are subtle references and allusions here and there and, surprising, a plot point from the thunderously shit X-Men Origins: Wolverine plays a pivotal role here. While the point itself doesn’t make much sense (nor did it in the Origins movie), I was actually impressed that it was included at all. It reminded me of just how far this franchise has come in the last decade and a half, and it was a neat callback – regardless of how stupid it was/is. I really wish I could go into more depth, but I don’t want to ruin anything for anyone, so you’ll just have to trust me on that.
One element of the movie that fell a bit flat for me is that I never really bought the developing relationship between Logan and Laura – though in fairness I think this is a fault with the story, rather than the performances. As I find is often the case with comic book films, the narrative suffers from having a bit too much to do and the characters simply don’t get the time that they need. This is exasperated by slightly dodgy pacing – the movie loses some of its momentum in the third act before suddenly ramping up for the climax. While neither of these things are enough to spoil the film, it does feel like a misstep that could have been easily avoided.
Further, while this may just be me, I did find the movie a bit predictable. This is mainly the fault of the trailers, which (though awesome) probably gave too much away – but the film doesn’t take any risks when it comes to the narrative. I wouldn’t go so far as to say it was formulaic, but it was certainly a straight forward plot with few surprises. Oddly enough, the one part that did throw me felt more like a missed opportunity than a clever twist. Suffice it to say that I was expecting the film to introduce a particular character from the comics, and I was disappointed when it didn’t, because I think it would have been a more interesting way to go.
Look, I could go on and on about this film, but I’m getting dangerously close to spoiler territory as it is. In summary, Logan isn’t a perfect movie – but it’s pretty damn close as far as the source material goes. Despite the film’s grim and gritty aesthetic, on a thematic level, the mature tone, brutal action and sharp dialogue finally does the character justice. In a way, it’s annoying that it’s taken the studio so long to do a Wolverine film right, but I’m glad the character got the send off that he deserved.