There is a scene halfway through James Mangold’s Logan that has the main character trio of Logan, Charles Xavier and Laura (Hugh Jackman, Patrick Stewart and Dafne Keen respectively) sitting at a dinner table. A moment’s peace from the hell they have been going through for most of the film. It is moments like these sprinkled throughout the bloody action that make Logan a shining example of what films based on comic books can be.
Logan is the tenth film in the X-Men film series as well as the third and final film of the Wolverine trilogy. It also marks the final performance for Hugh Jackman as Wolverine, a role he has played since 2000. And what a find send-off his character gets in this film.
The film takes place in the year 2029. Mutants are almost extinct as no new ones have been born in over 20 years. Logan is past his prime. His mutant healing factor is becoming less effective with each injury he sustains. He works as a limo driver while driving across borders to care for his old mentor Charles Xavier. After the arrival of agents of the Transigen Project, Logan is thrust into one final stand as he must protect a young Mutant named Laura. Now the former X-Man embarks on a cross country excursion that is more than a simple mission.
As a film Logan has a lot more going for it than it does against it. One thing that I enjoyed about it was the blending of genres. This is not a superhero film on par with previous X-Men installments. This is modern western with superhero characters. It has much more in common in terms of tonal presentation with a film such as Hell or High Water than it does with X-Men: Apocalyspe. Gamers will also take note of its similarities to the title The Last of Us. This decision allows director Mangold (who also helmed 2013’s The Wolverine which I loved as well), to tell the story that needs to be told.
The main trio is superb in their roles. It might be easy to praise Jackman considering he’s played the role for almost 20 years. Yet he brings such a weight of regret to the character that we haven’t seen before. In the previous films he’s tried to remember who he is. By the time the events of Logan come around, he’s questioning his whole purpose. He feels his body giving out and he just wants to get away from a life that he now feels had no meaning.
Patrick Stewart also reinvigorates his role as Charles Xavier. Now losing his mind to a degenerative brain disease, Charles relishes what time he has left and longs for Logan to for once take some joy in his life and be proud of what he has accomplished. Another positive is Stephen Merchant as Caliban. He brings a nuanced perspective that balances the hopeful Xavier and the cynical Logan.
Last but not least, is Dafne Keen as Laura/X23. It was very refreshing to see Mangold not present her in the role of the precocious child sidekick. Instead Keen shows quite the acting range despite not speaking for a majority of the film. Her facial expressions and body language say everything you need to know about her.
Even though I’m praising the film, it isn’t perfect. The final third of the film is a little weaker than the rest. The shift is sort of similar to Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome. If you’ve seen that film you should understand what I mean. The film introduces an element that I felt Logan wasn’t as strongly connected to. The scenes work, yet the emotional building that had worked up during the film was sort of restarted at that point. Another weak point is the antagonists. Boyd Holbrook as Donald Pierce is charming, but Transigen as a whole is nothing impressive from a writing standpoint. I would venture to say that they are simply a vehicle to move the story along. The real villain of the story is Logan’s regret and doubt.
One thing I keep hearing is how Logan “transcends the superhero genre.” I don’t think that’s true. It’s a great film, but what it is is it’s own film. It doesn’t fit into those standard conventions because it’s not trying to tell that story. This is something that I look forward to in regards to seeing some of these characters brought to the screen. Crossing genre lines. Mangold had a slight grasp on this with The Wolverine.
Logan is a great film. It is emotionally gripping and contains some great action. We see the final chapter in the life of a man question was it worth it? A film that achieves a balance of visceral action and heartfelt character moments.
Final Rating (3.5/4)