Logan is here and is the 9th and final outing for Hugh Jackman as James ‘Logan’ Howlett, aka Wolverine. It is the 3rd stand-alone Wolverine film, and the second directed by James Mangold, who also wrote the film.
The film is set in the year 2029 and sees an older version of Logan, who is driving a limo in order to make enough money to support a sick and senile Charles Xavier, with Patrick Stewart returning to the role. He is dragged back into action and the world of Weapon X when he is approached to help a young girl travel across America and elude capture. The story is a sort of combination of the great 2008 comic Old Man Logan, which could never work as a film because of rights issues, and an introduction of the character of Laura, aka X23 (Dafne Keen).
The film has a lot of the trimmings of the previous X-Men, and specifically Wolverine, films. There are mutants including the two most famous in the franchise, a shadowy human organisation attempting to control mutants, and great action set pieces. But where Logan really succeeds is by going far beyond this to tell a truly great story about Logan. He has always been a troubled character in the franchise, never really being able to find peace, even amongst the X-Men. But in Logan he finds a weird dysfunctional family in the ageing Charles and young Laura, and in a way the peace he has never found before.
The dynamic between Jackman’s Logan, Stewart’s Charles, and Keen’s Laura is at the very core of the film. I still find it incredible that they were allowed to make a blockbuster superhero film with so many tender and quiet moments between these characters. It really allows the film to focus on them, and the character’s journeys.
Jackman gives an absolutely brilliant performance, probably his best in the role. We’ve seen him so many times before play Logan as a rage fueled monster, and even as a character searching for his place in the world. But never before have we seen him make Logan such a well-rounded, and almost tragic character. He is a beaten down, hurting man who wants absolutely nothing to do with the world. As the film goes on it changes into such a moving performance.
Meanwhile Patrick Stewart brings a new vulnerability to Charles, as well as a level of humour that keeps the film from becoming too dark. But it is Dafne Keen who nearly steals the entire film for me. Despite only being 11 or 12 she gives such a strong, slightly odd, near silent performance for the most part. It is slightly reminiscent of Millie Bobby Brown as Thirteen in Stranger Things, but with that little bit of simmering rage just below the surface. Without wanting to spoil anything, she also makes her performance so heartbreaking near the end of he film. A wonderful turn from such a young actress.
The film still has the moments of great action that you would expect from an X-Men or Wolverine film. It is not constantly thrown at us, but is given out in three or four great doses. Mangold take what is still the best action sequence in X-Men history, Wolverine’s school rampage in X2, and turns it up in terms of the brutality and raw energy of the action. It is also for the most part incredibly well shot, not relying on too many quick cuts, although this isn’t John Wick level. The film really earns its R Rating as well. It’s an incredibly bloody and violent film when it needs to be, as you would actually expect from a film where characters have limbs cleaved clean off.
Logan is such a fitting send off for Jackman’s Wolverine. It offers what is really the perfect ending arc for the character. It also gives fans the brutal version of the character that was constrained for so long by the film’s rating. Equally as impressively I cannot wait to see more of the character of X23, and where she will go in the future of the X-Men universe.