Logan, Wolverine, Hugh Jackman, X-Men

LOGAN (2017) – REVIEW

To give this review some context, I’ve never been a very big X-Men fan. Not because I have any specific reason (other than feeling confused about the chronology of each installment) – it’s just that the characters have never excited me in the way that a lot of other superheroes have, like The Avengers or Batman. That is, of course, with the exception of Wolverine. Jackman’s incarnation of the clawed mutant over the last 17 years has certainly been the one constant highlight of the series, and honestly it’s a struggle to see someone else in the role now that he’s hanging up the claws. Hugh Jackman is Wolverine. On the other hand, it’s pretty understandable that he wants to move on, and I genuinely don’t think there was a better way to go out.

See, Logan is – by quite some distance – the best X-Men movie yet. Hell, it’s one of the best superhero films around, if it is actually a superhero film (there’s a reason it’s called Logan and not Wolverine 3). Setting it so far ahead from most of the pack is this unexpectedly raw and human story set against a dusty backdrop reminiscent of those grizzled, lone wanderer westerns of yore; the conspicuous clips of George Stevens’ Shane playing on a hotel TV shed an obvious light on the atmosphere James Mangold is trying to conjure. Although if we’re comparing it to a western it really ought to be Unforgiven – this is an end-of-the-road character drama splashed with sweat and blood and inevitability. Logan’s still trying to do right, but he’s falling apart. And he’s angry.

So while the plot follows an admittedly familiar cat-and-mouse road movie set-up, the story is about people rather than heroes. It’s about dealing with the past and inner demons, and about bonds between strangers. In that way it actually reminded me a lot of Mel Gibson’s recent and surprisingly effective Blood Father. Well, that and the fact that it’s violent as heck. Here’s another reason it’s nothing like the X-Men we’re used to – this thing should have been an 18.

After the limb-chopping, head-stabbing opening sequence, we have a pretty clear picture of what we’re in for. This movie is like a visual stress-relief unleashing pent-up aggression, and blimey does it do it with its claws out. In between all that great character stuff is a series of action sequences which appear to be injected with that same green stuff Wolverine uses to get angry; they’re bloody, full-throttle and just loads of fun. All of this stuff I think is quite clearly influenced by the success of the recent R-rated Deadpool, yet it still makes complete sense within the context of the story.

It’s actually possible to read Logan’s character very similarly to Batman killing people in BvS (which I know a lot of people took issue with); he’s old, tired, grizzled and angry. After everything he’s been through, all the nonsense he’s put up with, he’s just saying screw it and letting loose. Idiots stripping his car of parts? Vain bad guys who love the sound of their own voice? He’s no time for that shit anymore. Things are going to get messy.

As I’ve sort of made clear, I can’t really discuss Logan in any knowledgeable way within the context of the overall X-Men universe, but I can say it works completely as its own separate thing – and in the end, that’s what it’s really going for. It’s a fairly rare example of the genre done with character and story taking precedence over special effects and big, villainous, end-of-the-world climaxes. If it weren’t for Christopher Nolan, I’d say there’s more to be gained from this film that you ever would have expected from a comic book movie.


Verdict:

Logan is a brutal, devastating and immensely enjoyable superhero movie that feels as human as Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy and as unhinged as The Raid. Wolverine won’t be the same without Jackman, but what better way to hang up the claws.

★ ★ ★ ★ ★