Film Review: ‘Logan’ (2017)

logan
Credit: Hoyts

Hugh Jackman’s career-defining role as Wolverine/Logan/Weapon X has finally come to an end. I remember back in 2000 when my dad and sister went off to see a movie that I, at the time, did not wish to see, I decided to see X-Men instead, on my own. That was the first time I’d ever gone to the cinema on my own and boy what a good choice of movie that was! Wolverine was by far the coolest character on-screen. I did not grow up with the comics and seldom watched the tv-series, so I’ve never felt any tension between the two portrayals of Wolverine and therefore, Hugh has always been my Wolverine.

You’d think by now we have had a Wolverine fatigue, with his character turning up in every X-Men movie either as a cameo or a starring role. His last outing (which was really a cameo in X-Men Apocalypse) in 2013’s The Wolverine wasn’t too bad, however the ending was pretty ridiculous (and unfortunately Logan does suffer ever so slightly with a similar issue). Now we have Logan, the final portrayal of Wolverine by Hugh Jackman. Has the character outstay his welcome?

Thankfully not. Logan is a very good movie.

In this movie, Logan (Hugh Jackman) finds himself and Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart) protecting a strange girl with familiar powers, Laura (Dafne Keen), from hostile forces with sinister plans.

Hugh Jackman is really, really good in this. I’ve never found him a particular amazing actor. Mostly it is his charming and kind personality that people are in awe of. However in Logan, he sinks his teeth into the role and gives his best performance of Wolverine ever. He portrays Logan as a beaten, pale shadow of who he used to be – a man who is dying inside and out. Patrick Stewart’s portrayal of a significantly older and declining Charles Xavier is also fantastic, as he plays a version of Professor X that is much more vulnerable and weathered than ever before. Dafne Keen’s Laura is also mesmerising in a role that conveys so much with very little dialogue. I also loved Stephen Merchant’s albino mutant tracker, Caliban. .

Did I mention how violent this film was?

The film is incredibly violent. Limbs are sliced off, people are decapitated. It is very bloody. Upon my first viewing of the film, it felt violent for violent’s sake. However, upon my second viewing I realised that increasing the violent content made every situation all the more dangerous. Other X-Men movies had great action scenes, yet this one uses graphic violence to show how dangerous the mutants and armed forces are. It raises the stakes of the X-Men world further than any movie before it (First Class did have some violent scenes that upped the ante on superhero violence, but not like this). Now it would be odd for future X-Men movies within this universe to not have the same violent content. (I did believe that the swearing was quite unnecessary and pandering to the film’s desired R-rating in the US).

Superhero movies are always compared to 2008’s The Dark Knight in terms of how the genre can create not only good chapters of the superhero’s stories, but also the ability for good (even classic) films in their own right. The Dark Knight was unprecedented in how much it achieved for a superhero film. Logan, in my opinion, reaches similar heights. It is part modern-western, but primarily a road movie about redemption and family and plays on these tropes very affectively. It’s a very good movie in its own right but could also be considered an outstanding superhero movie.

Perhaps the biggest flaw in Logan was the introduction of X-24, a merciless (and conscience-less) clone of Logan. At that point, the movie descended into familiar or ‘typical’ X-Men territory. I understand the metaphorical nature of using a character that is the mirror-image of Logan; in terms of Logan’s character arc he is necessarily as Logan has difficulty facing himself, yet it felt below the film’s achievements made in the first 2 acts. I’m still trying to work out whether it was the overall inclusion of X-24 that let the film down or the way that he was introduced into the story. Either way, this felt like the weakest link.

Logan is a very good movie. It has memorable action sequences and great performances and direction. I have a feeling that this will go down as one of the best superhero movies ever made. In a landscape where Disney’s MCU rules, this was a refreshingly different take on a Marvel character that relied on solid filmmaking for a stand-alone adventure, as opposed to a film bogged down by world-building (there is some of that) and setting up sequels (there is also a little of that too). Go see it.

So, Bon Voyage to Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine!

 

 

 

 

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