In 2029 following the demise of the X-Men and with just vanishing traces of Mutants in the world time has finally caught up with virtually indestructible hero Wolverine. Now an old man himself Logan is hiding away by the Mexican border with a senile Charles Xavier. But when he crosses paths with a young mutant that shares his gifts he also rediscovers the rage and compassion that once made him a powerful hero Logan will enter the fight for good, one last time.
Ever since his last minute replacement casting Jackman has managed to turn Wolverine into one of cinemas most iconic and universally popular heroes. Though more statuesque than the traditionally diminutive comic book character, Jackman captured perfectly Logan’s surly rage filled anti-hero charms. In a fantasy world often filled with heavy handed philosophising and do-good heroes he was a perfect sarcastic antidote. It’s difficult to understate just how many times his cigar chomping alpha male machoism saved the franchise from the bland boredom of social justice themed heroes and villains.
Jackman almost single handily carried X2, Last Stand, Days of Future Past and shamelessly stole the show in Apocalypse during his brief but brutal cameo. So it’s only right that Jackman gets to say a proper goodbye to the character in glorious and gory fashion.
Logan undeniably serves as a fitting apology to fans for past disappointments, most notably Jackman’s first solo effort X-Men Origins Wolverine. The faltering attempt at a standalone Wolverine film was ruined by utterly redundant storytelling, sanitised action and notoriously poor use of some of the most popular supporting characters in the X-Men universe. Thankfully this studio and Jackman have learnt all those lessons very well by now.
Liberated from the increasingly confusing timelines and muddled continuity of the long running X-Men franchise, Logan takes the opportunity to tell a simple standalone story focused fully on action and the emotional core of the character. Much like Ryan Reynold’s triumphant Deadpool, Logan also fully embraces the chance to inject a deeply dark and mature humour into the otherwise mostly sanitized X-Men cinematic universe. Unleashed form the metaphorical shackles of keeping things PG 13 it’s certainly fun to see just what blood soaked damage Wolverine’s ademantium claws are truly capable of.
Fan favourite Patrick Stewart and young newcomer Dafne Keen proved a perfect foil for Jackman’s raw and broken down performance. Keen is an astonishing delight as a pint sized mutant packed with feral surprises. It’s a star making turn instantly comparable with Chloe Moretz’s blood soaked breakthrough as Kick-Ass teen vigilante Hit Girl. Those expecting her to merely be a convenient plot device will be shocked to see just how much of a violent and scene stealing asset she is for the film.
Long-time fans of the X-Men comics and films will welcome the change of pace and more mature tone of Logan. However it’s safe to say it’s unrelentingly bleak and blood drenched approach may not appeal as much to more casual mainstream viewers and younger fans. Logan is a film unapologetically aimed at a loyal audience that has grown with the character over the past two decades. That audience may be ready for this kind of sombre themed X-Men film, but popcorn munching crowds looking for escapist costume clad fun may not be quite so prepared.
As an example, Charles Xavier has consistently remained the calm reassuring centre of the X-Men universe. Whether played by Stewart or in his younger form by James McAvoy, Professor X has always been defined by his steadfast decorum and dignified gravitas. For this reason it’s a little jarring to see his devolved into a mentally befuddled potty mouthed 90 year old. Of course some fans will very much enjoy hearing Stewart dropping f bombs and the British thespian clearly delights in finally being unleashed to inject some R rated humour into the iconic prim and proper role. However it’s safe to say that for others the novelty quickly wears off leaving a somewhat undignified aftertaste.
Overall while many fans will relish in finally seeing a more brutal and stripped down version of their favourite hero, others may find it a little less satisfying than the happy soft focus climax Days Of Future Past offered to Wolverine’s cinematic timeline. Also while Logan tries very hard to present the most graphically authentic version of the character the film does occasionally still slip back into comic book clichés of evil clones and robot super soldiers.
The Ugly Truth
Logan is as fitting an ending to Jackman’s long running portrayal of the most popular X-Men hero as fan could possibly have hoped for. It is more dark, violent and unconventional than any of the versions of Wolverine seen on screen before. Ironically with his absolutely last outing Jackman might have actually finally given comicbook fans exactly what they always wanted from the character.
Review by Russell Nelson