You shouldn’t really call Logan a superhero movie. Sure, it’s packed with the awe inspiring action scenes synonymous with Marvel films, but calling it such undermines the true power of this film. Instead, it’s a story about a man trying to find peace with the world that he’s saved countless times before. Hugh Jackman has portrayed Wolverine in no less than nine films over 17 years but has finally called it quits in this last outing, directed by James Mangold, in what is as much a fitting ending for the character as it is for the actor that portrays the adamantium-clad beast.
The story centres around a heavily aged Logan. His body isn’t healing as quickly and his metal skeleton is slowly poisoning him. He’s keeping a low profile at an abandoned factory in Mexico where he’s hiding a much older, much wilder Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart) who’s slowly losing his mind to old age, rambling to the point that it’s hard to recognise the same Professor X that’s almost god-like in previous films. It’s the first sign that times have changed and the remaining mutants are living day-by-day to get by, away from the spotlight of the awesome battles they once fought.
Logan’s path crashes into that of Laura, who possesses traits not unlike that of the protagonist both in metal claws and a sheer, deep rage. The young girl is being pursued by an organisation that seeks to bring her back into their possession, something that Laura doesn’t seem too keen about. Over the next tow-and-a-half hours, the film goes through intense, brutal and incredibly dark twists and turns, not just in its embracing of severed heads and Sunday-roast-like slicing, but it’s grave, emotional content that will make even the biggest of men shed a tear.
Jackman steers this film so perfectly because of his love for this character. You can sense that it’s not just Wolverine’s swansong, but a love letter from the actor that’s portrayed him all these years. The gut-punching moments where you see the man behind the costumes of films past realise that hope is fading creates some of the most intense scenes ever seen in an X-Men film. It doesn’t fish for emotions where past films have (think Jean Grey’s death in X-Men: The Last Stand). It’s a credit to Jackman that fans will feel this connection to him, only heightened by the near two-decade journey we’ve been on with him.
The incredible debut by Dafne Keen as Laura was shiver-inducing. The way the young actor embodies the same animalistic nature of Wolverine at such an early age makes the connection between the generations all the more powerful as the film progresses. Despite all this, the standout performance is from Stewart, who benefits the most from the uncensored 18+ rating. Some of the best one-liners come from Xavier, set free to swear as much as he likes, as well as the stark depiction of an old man whose mental state is slipping day-by-day while just about being supported by his medication. It’s something that affects everyone as they age, but having the most powerful brain in the world being lost to a mental illness keeps the story, rightly so, in the mutant universe.
A more mature audience will also appreciate the more nuanced approach to storytelling. There’s no spoon-feeding or flashbacks to illustrate past events; the film allows the audience to paint that picture themselves, working so beautifully that a twist at the end of the first half will have you trying to deal with the upset for the next.
Logan is a rare film that moves away from big budget fight scenes and lore, and in its place brings human emotions into the superhero lens. It’s a passionate, savage and adoring final take on the story of Wolverine which captivates what made the character so beloved by millions. The next superhero film won’t take the same path as Logan, but in any sense it’s going to be hard to top this one.
Words by boohooMAN Student Ambassador, Jordan-Lee Pirrie