‘Logan’ Review: Hugh Jackman’s Swan Song as Wolverine As Good as Advertised

‘Logan’ will undoubtedly go down as one of the best films of the year whether you like superhero movies or not…

By Damon Martin — Editor/Lead Writer

It’s tough to argue against the fact that Wolverine has been the most popular character from the ‘X-Men’ for the better part of the last 30 years so it’s no wonder Hugh Jackman’s portrayal has been the center of attention for virtually all of the movies based in the mutant universe.

Now here’s one more fact — I’ve never enjoyed Wolverine as a character.

Perhaps it’s the perception that everybody else loved Wolverine that made me turn the other cheek and pay attention to other characters instead or maybe it was the fact that so many stories in the ‘X-Men’ comics ended up based around him while several other key members of the team seemingly fell to the background.

The same could be said of the movies.

When ‘X-Men’ was first released in 2000 — for all the flaws that movie had and there were quite a few — almost immediately Wolverine was painted as the classic anti-hero, who was bad to the bone yet still good at heart. He was put into a love triangle with Jean Grey while Scott Summers aka Cyclops ended up as the college type douche who everyone hated almost immediately because he was standing in the way of Wolverine getting the woman he truly loved.

Several more ‘X-Men’ movies followed and admittedly the best ones in the series — ‘X2’ and ‘X-Men: Days of Future Past’ — also featured Wolverine as the primary protagonist but the love affair with this character never really made sense to me.

Until now.

‘Logan’ opens in theaters on Friday and the film has been receiving rave reviews from superhero movie watching fan boys and those hardcore movie critics who seem to hate everything except the independent film that touts ‘critical acclaim’ at every turn because nobody actually went to see it in the theater.

The movie really serves as a stand alone feature that doesn’t require any past knowledge of the ‘X-Men’ or ‘Wolverine’ solo films, although there are a few Easter eggs spread throughout the movie that a veteran of those features will pick up on. It’s a futuristic tale about a beaten and broken Logan — a far cry from the action hero who saved the world several times while representing the X-Men.

Director James Mangold managed to paint ‘Logan’ with bleak brushstrokes without making the film look like a dystopian wasteland dressed up in blacks and greys just for the sole purpose of making it appear grim. Instead, Mangold uses his story and an apocalyptic future for mutant kind told brilliantly through three central characters and a story that is simple yet compelling, sad yet hopeful and all the way around the best ‘X-Men’ movie that’s ever been made.

PLOT

The year is 2029 and most of mutant kind has culled from the Earth and that’s when we meet James Howlett aka Logan aka Wolverine, who is now a limousine driver in El Paso, Texas using his car in a Uber/Lyft type service while keeping his head down and his profile low.

When he’s not driving around drunken men in the middle of a bachelor party or a business man coming from the airport, Logan is secretly harboring his friend and mentor Professor Charles Xavier in a desolate camp in Mexico where he’s also housing Caliban, a mutant with the power to seek out other mutants in a world where sadly there are hardly any left.

Logan prefers to stay off of everybody’s radar but when a woman mysteriously appears with a little girl named Laura and asking for his help, he’s dragged into a situation that is going to leave a trail of bodies and blood across the United States.

The little girl is also being sought after by a shady genetics corporation and a bounty hunter named Donald Pierce, who knows all about Wolverine’s exploits during his days as one of the X-Men but now he just wants the broken and beaten Logan to hand over his property before anybody else gets hurt.

Needless to say, a lot of people are left scarred by the end of this one.

ACTING

While Wolverine/Logan has never been my favorite X-Men character, there’s no denying that Hugh Jackman brought real talent to the part over the last 17 years. Jackman is at his best in this film as he plays it cool while rage and anger are constantly simmering under the surface but the tender moments he shares with his old friend Charles are some of the best scenes you’ll see in the theater all year long.

Patrick Stewart has never been better and the vulnerability he shows as Xavier is awe inspiring and heartbreaking at the same exact time.

Of course the breakout performance in ‘Logan’ has to be Dafne Keen as Laura, who goes toe to toe with both Jackman and Stewart throughout the film. She might be a child in the movie but this girl is as fierce as the retractable claws that come popping out of her hand just like Wolverine.

Add in a very strong performance from Boyd Holbrook as menacing bad guy Donald Pierce and ‘Logan’ has nothing but an outstanding cast from start to finish.

DIRECTING AND WRITING

James Mangold cut his teeth on ‘Logan’ by directing the 2013 film ‘The Wolverine’, which wasn’t a bad movie but certainly didn’t hold a candle to this one in terms of story. Rather than just sitting behind the camera this time, Mangold also took the bulk of the responsibility for the story and that reflects in how meticulous he was with the direction once the movie was being made.

Of course, ‘Logan’ pays some small homage to the classic comic book ‘Old Man Logan’, but in terms of story this is a completely different tale than the one Mark Millar told so brilliantly with that series (and if you’re a fan of Wolverine and have not read that, run to your local comic store and pick it up).

With the directing and writing in such harmony, the story unfolds with jaw dropping precision from the first frame until the last. It sounds corny but with ‘Logan’, you’ll laugh, you’ll cry and when it’s over, you’ll want to watch it all over again.

WHAT’S WRONG WITH THE MOVIE?

There’s not much to complain about with ‘Logan’ because the movie is so well put together with nothing left out nor is there too much packed in during the two hour feature. Of course some of the back story behind the mutant genocide is really never fleshed out but that’s a very minor detail, especially when sitting through one particularly heart wrenching scene told only through words by Patrick Stewart at Charles Xavier.

If there was one shortcoming — and mind you this is very, very minor — it would have been a chance to use Boyd Holbrook a bit more in the second half of the movie after having a very prominent role during the initial introduction to Logan and Laura. Again, it’s a very small quibble and nothing that really takes away from the movie, but Holbrook is so good, you’d just like to see more of him opposite Jackman.

FINAL VERDICT

Before ‘Logan’ was released, Ryan Reynolds teased that this movie should get nominated for a lot of awards at the end of 2017 and that was no promotional bluster. ‘Logan’ is definitely the best ‘X-Men’ movie that’s been made and that’s saying a lot considering ‘X2’ is widely regarded as one of the top comic book films of all time.

‘Logan’ will keep comic book enthusiasts enthralled and if you’ve never even heard of the ‘X-Men’ before now, this movie will keep you locked on the movie screen from start to finish.

‘Logan’ gets 5 out of 5 on the Skolnick Scale.

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