Rated R (for extreme violence, language and brief nudity)
Ever since Hugh Jackman hit the big time as Wolverine in 2000’s X-Men he has become inseparable from the character. In fact one could say that the success of his depiction helped launch the entire comic book movie craze we see today. Now, 17 years and 7 movies later, Jackman returns one last time to portray the famously irritable Canadian mutant.
The film is set in the not too distant future, where mutant-kind has been all but eradicated. Logan is now aged and weary and, with the help of a fellow mutant named Caliban (Stephen Merchant), devotes his time to looking after a rather feeble and deteriorating Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart). Having given up his more violent ways, we find Logan driving a limousine for hire, trying to save enough money to take Charles, Caliban and himself to safer pastures. This mundane and fairly depressing existence is what the trio go through from day to day, until they face a bit of an upheaval when a young girl called Laura (Dafne Keen) is thrust into their lives.
What is striking about Logan is how different it is from all the other X-Men movies that have come before it. The R-rating that accompanies Logan is put into use immediately from when the film opens with limbs and blood flying everywhere, giving us a realistic impression of what it would be like if a man really did have indestructible claws. If there was ever a character that benefited from the R-Rating its Wolverine.
Violence aside, this a story that is focused first and foremost on Logan and his relationship between Xavier and Laura. From the small intimate moments that Logan has caring for Xavier, to the gruff yet protective manner he has towards Laura, it shows a side to Wolverine we have rarely seen, and puts Hugh Jackman’s acting chops to the test. A test that he admirably lives up to.
But while the story is about Logan, the highlight of the movie is Laura. It’s incredible that an actress so young could hold her own against Jackman and Stewart. What makes her portrayal even more amazing is that her character doesn’t speak for most of the movie. Keen imbues her role with such an aura of fearlessness and spunk with just her expressions and body language that it’s easy to see why she won the role.
That said, Patrick Stewart is no slouch in this movie either. One of the most powerful minds in the Marvel universe, it’s heart-breaking to see Xavier struck down by a mentally degenerative disease making him have seizures and a danger to be around. Stewart captures the frail and vulnerable nature of the character, constantly moving in and out of lucid moments, but surprisingly also managing to bring some humour to the role. It might be his most powerful rendition of Xavier yet.
Logan eschews the big budget spectacle that is so common with its other comic book brethren. There are no bright blue lights from the sky, or Egyptian gods causing rampant destruction. And though the movie is smaller in scope than the previous X-Men films, it still manages to have some incredible set-pieces. The fight choreography is brutal and almost primal but shot so that you can make sense of everything that is going on. There are creative uses of the mutant powers, and one scene in particular utilising the full brunt of Xavier’s powers is stunning in its execution both from a visual and technical viewpoint.
With a muted, brown hue, the cinematography of Logan gives off a Western vibe, which is fitting for a film that follows the trope of the lone gunman, but there are splashes of colour here and there. Add in the sparing, seamlessly integrated use of CGI, and you get one good looking film.
There are a view lapses in logic, and perhaps a few plot-points that were too telegraphed that make Logan less than perfect, but it’s still a great movie and I hope the box office shows that the audience is ready for more comic book films like this one.
If this really is Hugh Jackman’s last turn as Wolverine, I’m glad he’s ending it on such a high note.
I give Logan a 9 out of 10.
PS. There are no scene after the end-credits.