Review: Logan

Hugh Jackman has played the iconic comic book character Wolverine in the X-Men film series for a jaw dropping 18 years. Jackman makes his last stand as the hot tempered mutant in Logan.

From the mind of director/writer James Mangold, Logan takes place in 2029 – a semi-dystopian future where Wolverine is losing his ability to heal, Professor X (Patrick Stewart) suffers from constant seizures, and the rest of the X-Men are gone.

Wolverine drives a limo for a living to raise enough money for him and Professor X to buy a boat so they can get away. One day, Logan is approached by a nurse and asked to escort an 11 year old girl named Laura (Dafne Keen) to a place in North Dakota known as Eden.

Laura isn’t your regular 11 year old girl, she’s X-23 – a child weapon engineered using Wolverine’s DNA.  She’s basically Wolverine trapped in an 11 year old body. Instead of three razor sharp claws in each hand, she has two and one in each foot. Laura is also being hunted by a group known as The Reavers lead by Donald Pierce (Boyd Holbrook). Wolverine and Professor X agree to take Laura to Eden and try to stay one step ahead of The Reavers.

If this is truly Hugh Jackman’s last performance as Wolverine, this is his best performance. This version of Wolverine isn’t the hothead from 2000’s X-Men or the skilled veteran from X-Men Days of Future Past. He’s an aging war hero who is desperately trying to leave that life behind. His claws don’t work properly, he drinks all the time, he’s is having trouble healing, and is going out of his way to not be a hero – partially because he can’t fight like he once did and partially because he wants to forget.  In the film’s opening scene, a drunken Wolverine pleads with a group of car thieves to leave him alone…that’s until he goes into berserker barrage mode and remnants of the old Wolverine bubble to the surface.

Jackman is at his best as an emotionally exhausted Wolverine. He plays this version of Wolverine as a man who’s struggling with his own personal demons and also dealing with the guilt of his past. Not to mention he has to be a pseudo parental figure to a mini version of himself.

Wolverine will always be the name, but the real star of the film is Dafne Keen as a young X-23. She has very few lines (and even fewer in English), yet is able to deliver the spirit of Jackman’s Wolverine with her quick temper and death stares. Dafne’s ability to convey so many different emotions without delivering a single line is the sign of a good actor.  Who knows what Fox has planned down the line, I hope they keep Dafne on board. The young actress has the potential to be a star in their cinematic universe.

Most people don’t see comic book movies or sad stories about mutant kids or ailing heroes. Most people want to see action and Logan doesn’t disappoint. From the film’s opening moments, it’s a brutal bloodfest. It has everything from amputated limbs to decapitations, Logan indulges every frame of its R rating. There’s enough action to soothe any comic book fan, not to mention most of the sequences feature Wolverine and X-23 on a rampage.

Mangold does a fantastic job painting the pain that surrounds heroes. Saving the world has its high points, but all of it comes with a cost. Logan is the story of the cost. One of the strongest comic book characters deals with the pain from the life he’s lived. He’s paying a price for what he’s done, both good and bad. There are heavy themes about life, death, regret, and our ability to move forward all sewn into the fabric of a comic book movie.

Logan is more western than comic book movie. Imagine a modern western with characters that have superpowers, that’s Logan. It’s not the best comic book movie ever made and not a tone I’d expect to see continue in comic book movies. The story is more thoughtful and touching than most films in the genre. It’s a grounded story with some great action and surprising emotional moments. Mangold’s vision may not change how people traditionally make comic book movies, but this vision for a Wolverine story is the perfect sendoff for Wolverine – it’s the perfect send off for Hugh Jackman. However, Wolverine can regenerate, so this may not be the last time we see Jackman wearing Wolverine claws.

Grade: B