The kick in the nuts the superhero genre desperately needed.
Logan is a “sit up and take notice” kind of film, the sort of which even the most casual fan shouldn’t sleep on. Because Logan is no regular VFX-filled extravaganza with capes and shit that you forget about ten minutes after you leave the theater. Like the best art does, Logan will linger inside of you for days. It’s powerfully affecting in a way that few mainstream films are.
It might be one of the best superhero movies ever (with obvious credit to The Dark Knight). It contains Hugh Jackman’s single greatest feat of acting ever (take a hike, Les Miserables!). And with the new character of X-23/Laura, there’s a blockbuster debut performance by a young actress (see you in hell, Eleven!).
Capping off a 17-year run as one of the most iconic superheroes ever to storm the big screen, Hugh Jackman’s swan song as the mutant Wolverine hits like a breath of fresh air. Logan feels vulnerable and presents itself without any frills. It doesn’t fuck around and it doesn’t hold your hand when the going gets tough. This movie has no time for anyone’s bullshit. It’s dramatic but never melodramatic. Director James Mangold gets to have his cake and eat it too. He doesn’t let the opportunity go to waste on any single level.
Logan is brutal, visceral, funny, and wholly sentimental. Sure, Deadpool opened the door for R-rated superheroes to make some bank at the box office. But this is the first R-rated superhero film with true gravitas. It’s a stunning piece of pop cinema that should outlive many of its brethren in fans’ hearts.
It’s a universal truth that every fan of this character wanted Logan to feature the most badass action scenes out of the whole series. Wishes granted: Logan gives us exactly what we wanted. But what I didn’t know going into the film is what we might need from it. And it surprised me with its big, burly, beating heart. The tears of many moviegoers will be soaked up by those fuzzy mutton chops.
This isn’t a case of meeting audiences’ expectations – the film does that in its first thirty minutes. Logan takes the road less traveled by and we are all the better for it. By doing so, it easily exceeds expectations. Its scope is refreshingly intimate; there isn’t a giant beam of light shooting into the sky that could destroy the whole planet yet again – as was the case in last year’s dull X-Men: Apocalypse and every Marvel Studios movie except like three of them.
After far too many excursions into time travel/reincarnation/alternate timelines/etc. it’s a welcome change to see Wolverine tackle a considerably more straightforward adventure. Living off the grid as much as possible and working as a limo driver for hire, Logan’s sought out by a woman desperate for the iconic hero to help her and Laura (Dafne Keen) get from Texas to North Dakota while staying ahead of the bad guys on their trail. Reluctant at first, as always, Logan decides to sign up for the gig due to the promise of a $50,000 payday – enough for a boat on which he and an ailing Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart) can live out their remaining days on the sea.
Before Logan can embark on the cross-country trek to North Dakota his fare is found dead and an army of government villains show up on his doorstep. The little girl he was supposed to transport isn’t just any normal child – she’s a genetically modified weapon (a.k.a. X-23), and the people who made her in a lab desperately want her back. Logan’s instincts heart kick into gear and he raises his claws to shred a path to safety for him, Laura, and Charles. He’s protective of them both and the relationship between the trio of characters is genuinely heartwarming at times. To spoil the surprises along their road trip would be to remove the pleasure of discovery from one’s viewing.
A lot has also been made about the R rating Logan has received. It’s a hard R rating. Limbs are severed, necks are slashed, and adamantium claws impale brains on many occasions. The word ‘fuck’ is also allowed to fly freely, and there’s a certain sophomoric giggle to be found in hearing 90-year-old Charles cursing like a 90-year-old sailor.
The violence is brutal and difficult to watch at times; there are many vicious attempts at bringing Logan down and these attacks increasingly leave him scarred and weary. He isn’t a young man anymore and Logan’s body is starting to rebel against him. He’s got enough of the fight left in him to be a formidable challenge to almost anyone, except this time the hits sting more, wounds last longer, and he’s left with visible markings of his pain.
I fucking loved this movie. It moved me to tears twice and had me on the edge of my seat (for real) at least a dozen times. It’s bold and brave and doesn’t pull any punches. Actions have consequences and consequences have reverberating echoes in the minds and hearts of the characters. By the end of Logan its characters are different people. You can’t really say that about a lot of comic book movies, but perhaps that’s the benefit of approaching the film while knowing that this is The End of it all.
Even still, if this is the end of Hugh Jackman’s impressive reign at the top of the superhero food chain then the man’s going out on a great note. Logan isn’t perfect – what film ever is? – but the tiny squabbles you might have with some plot points or small details are dwarfed in comparison to the large emotional tidal wave that hits you. You really do feel this movie. Logan is a major achievement and it couldn’t be more highly recommended.
Dan is a lifelong movie geek who's been a projectionist, critic, director, (accidental) actor, and writer in the industry since E.T. phoned home. He currently lives in Vancouver and doesn’t get outside nearly as much as he should.