Starring: Hugh Jackman (Prisoners), Patrick Stewart (Star Trek: First Contact), Dafne Keen, Boyd Holbrook (The Skeleton Twins), Stephen Merchant (I Give It a Year), Richard E. Grant (Withnail & I)
Director: James Mangold (3:10 to Yuma)
Writers: Scott Frank (Minority Report) & James Mangold and Michael Green (Green Lantern)
Runtime: 2 hours 17 minutes
Release Date: 1 March (UK), 3 March (US)
It’s kind of hard to believe that fans didn’t readily accept Hugh Jackman when he was cast as Wolverine nearly two decades ago. Now on his ninth portrayal of the character, he is practically bonded to him. But inevitably it becomes time to move on and, rather than let age or apathy bring an end to the character, Jackman has decided to definitely conclude his story with Logan. The final result is not only the best solo Wolverine movie, but also a unique and captivating film in its own right that stands apart from the rest of the superhero genre.
Picking up sometime after the events of X-Men: Days of Future Past, Logan quickly sets the tone with its sun-scorched landscapes, resentful characters, frequent profanity and abundance of gore; this certainly ain’t one for the kiddies. It has far more in common with films like Children of Men and Hell or High Water than it does with any X-Men film, but that bleak grounded approach feels fitting for what is this character’s last mission. The story itself is a relatively straightforward road movie for our protagonists to meet new characters, flee from the bad guys, and ultimately bond over the course of the journey. The story flows as you’d expect and there aren’t any particularly big twists (especially if you’re a fan of the comics), but this is ultimately a character-focused movie and the simple plot does everything it needs to do to support that. This is easily the best character study of a superhero since Batman Begins, and it accomplishes a far more weighty examination of a hero on his last legs than The Dark Knight Rises. It’s a superhero film far more driven by atmosphere and emotion than action, delivering moments of anguish and depth superior to most Oscar bait, and so if you’ve been following this franchise since the beginning there is a more than likely chance you’ll get a little teary-eyed towards its conclusion. I certainly did.
Hugh Jackman has made the character of Wolverine his own now, and his performance in Logan is easily his finest as the character yet. Jackman does an excellent job of creating a Logan that is tired, bitter and fed up with his own existence. He’s finally given the opportunity to go all out on the berserker front, delivering a performance that is equally the most comic-accurate portrayal but also the most human and nuanced; he’s definitely justified with calling it quits on this high note. Also returning for the last time is Patrick Stewart in an incredibly unorthodox portrayal of Professor X that rivals Jackman’s on the tragedy scale. He is broken in more ways than one and far from the eternal optimist he was back in 2000, but underneath is still the Charles Xavier we know and love and Stewart pulls on those heartstrings more than effectively. The rest of the supporting cast all do a good job but aren’t always utilised to their full potential. Stephen Merchant’s Caliban serves as some good comic relief early on but his importance to the story gradually fizzles away, and though Boyd Holbrook and Richard E. Grant are suitably slimy as the villains of the piece there isn’t exactly much depth to them; by the time they start getting interesting, the movie’s almost over. However, Logan’s breakout star is easily Dafne Keen as the mysterious Laura. Keen accomplishes a lot through very little dialogue, nailing both the young innocent girl in need of a father figure and feral wild child sides of the character equally. If they ever announce a spin-off with her in the lead, I’m going to be first in line.
Fans have been clamouring for a true R-rated Wolverine movie for years and Logan more than delivers on that sadistic need. It’s arguably even more graphic than Deadpool with the amount of bloodshed on display, but it all feels appropriate given the bleak tone. The action sequences aren’t always the most imaginatively staged or filmed, occasionally falling prey to too many quick cuts, but the excessiveness of the violence more than makes up for it. Without all of the superpowers it’d be easy to mistake Logan for an indie film, as the gritty cinematography and rundown production design creates a near-future USA that feels all too inevitable. Marco Beltrami’s score is suitably dour and western-influenced, and the soundtrack choices echo that ambience equally too; placing a Johnny Cash song on it almost feels too perfect.
Logan is easily the best superhero film of its kind since The Dark Knight, finding that suitable balance between escapism and verisimilitude to create a grim but thoroughly entertaining movie. This is the Wolverine story fans have wanted to see on screen all along, and the filmmakers are to be commended for taking the character to this difficult but necessary place. Even if another actor succeeds him sooner or later, Hugh Jackman‘s performance here makes him now and forever the definitive Wolverine alongside other superhero icons like Christopher Reeve and Robert Downey Jr. If the X-Men franchise as we know it called it quits here I’d be more than satisfied, but if it has to continue I hope they find ways to be as uniquely different from Logan as it has from its X-Men forbearers.
FINAL VERDICT: 9/10