Logan is Wolverine’s epic, the film we’ve always wanted and one of the finest superhero films ever made.
The year is 2029 and mutants are becoming rarer by the day. Logan (Hugh Jackman) himself is increasingly becoming more haggard and weary. His healing ability drastically slowing down due to adamantium poisoning ravaging his body. Instead of saving the world he now works as a chauffeur, and when he isn’t doing that he looks after a frail elderly Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart) with the help of Caliban (Stephen Merchant). Hiding from the world in Mexico Logan seeks a quiet existence, hoping to scrape enough money together to get them out of the smelting plant they’ve taken refuge in. Disrupting these plans are panicked Transigen nurse Gabriella and a young girl called Laura. Gabriella offers Logan a significant amount of money if he can escort them to North Dakota, but despite initially being reluctant Logan agrees. However plans are put into tailspin as Gabriella is murdered, and Transigen are out to find the girl, who it turns out is a subject called X-23. At the behest of Charles, Logan takes Laura under their wing and sets out on a mission to get her to a place known as Eden, whilst staying out of the reach of Pierce (Boyd Holbrook) and his personnel.
There can be no more fitting an epitaph for Hugh Jackman’s time playing the adamantium clawed mutant than in James Mangold’s Logan. Driven by fantastic performances in a story oozing with emotion, Logan follows fellow comic book adaptations like The Dark Knight and Watchmen by transcending the boundaries of conventional superhero films. This is not just a film about superhuman powers, it’s a true to form western that follows the lone hero take on bullying imposing forces, and it’s also a film about family, friendship, and age. As a result Logan truly is Wolverine’s epic, cementing itself as one of the finest superhero films out there.
However the story and the journey do not warrant this praise alone. Finally after so many films Wolverine is finally unleashed in all his feral, limb collecting glory, with brutally effective action set pieces that have you wincing on the edge of your seat. Amplifying the tension is how worn Wolverine becomes during the action, as he gruellingly pushes himself on as his body gradually fails him. The story, thanks largely to the material also allows Hugh Jackman one of his finest hours with a superb performance of Logan which we’ll likely see emulated, but never bettered. This also shines through in the rest of the cast, Stewart’s senile Xavier is saddening, and Dafne Keen’s X-23 is a riveting ball of rage that would have stolen the show were it not for Jackman.
One thing preventing Logan from being an all out masterpiece is part of the middle act which felt unnatural to the flow of the film. With Logan, Charles, and Laura on the run they stop to help a farming family with their loose horses after a near miss road accident. They are subsequently invited to their home, which Charles encourages Logan to take them up on. It leads to some touching moments, demonstrating a few shades of the film Shane (1953) that also echo throughout the rest of the film; not subtly as Charles happens to watch the film on TV earlier. But it also inevitably allows the pursuing villains to catch up with them. A more obvious construct than what preceded and followed it, forcing our heroes into action. This however is a minor wrinkle. Despite being an obvious setup for the third and final act it still provides adamantium infused action that gets downright deadly, and follows with some heartfelt emotion.
Overall it’s a deserved tribute to a character and an actor who’ve propped up a franchise for the past 17 years. It is a long film, and the pacing unlike other crash, bang, wallop superhero flicks out there, but it is never boring. James Mangold and Hugh Jackman together have created not just a great genre film, they’ve created a visually beautiful film full of drama, suspense, and visceral hack and slash action. Logan is everything a superhero fan, and a film fan, could ask for.