By Mark Saldana
Rating: 3.5 (Out of 4 Stars)
After nine movies, actor Hugh Jackman has reportedly decided to end his tenure as X-Men character Wolverine. For his final appearance as the surly and beastly superhero, Jackman is joined by his regular co-star Patrick Stewart who has also stated that Logan would be his last performance as Professor Charles Xavier. Jackman’s and Stewart’s portrayals of their respective characters have become iconic, and the actors will forever get recognition for bringing much heart and soul to them. It is only fitting that these men have an outstanding and epic send-off, and James Mangold’s Logan does just that.
In the year 2029, age and not-so-clean living have finally caught up with former X-Man Logan. His mutant ability to heal has diminished and he no longer has the same strength and endurance he once had for centuries. These days, Logan tries to keep a low profile, as attitudes toward mutants have not changed. Working as a humble chauffeur, he tries to stay out of trouble while caring for the senile and ailing Professor Xavier. As typical in Logan’s life, things rarely remain quiet for long. When a lady named Gabriela (Elizabeth Rodriguez) and her little daughter Laura (Dafne Keen) seek Logan’s help, this attracts some very unwanted attention from a corporation named Transigen and its “head of security” Donald Pierce (Boyd Holbrook). There is much more than meets the eye when it comes to little Laura, though, and a startling revelation of her gifts forces Logan, Xavier and Laura on the run.
Written and directed by James Mangold, who co-wrote with Scott Frank and Michael Green, Logan is absolutely the proper send-off for both Hugh Jackman and Patrick Stewart and could also serve as a fantastic conclusion of the X-Men franchise. Now, the franchise probably will not end just yet. 20th Century Fox has plans for other X-Men installments which will probably take place in years prior to this film; however, I honestly cannot see anyone really topping this film as a series closer, because it is simply the best film of the franchise so far. Mangold and his writers tone down the superhero tropes and cliches and go for a character-focused movie that, often times, plays out like a modern western.
The style and tone are dark, gritty, and bleak, but with glimmers of love, joy, and real humanity. The story certainly portrays the worst aspects and traits of humanity, but also shows that there will always be inklings of hope in the darkness. Mangold takes the recurring X-Men and Wolverine themes of unscrupulous manipulation of and experimentation on mutants and takes it to frightening and disturbing levels. As usual, Logan must struggle with his inner demons and his desire to stay out of trouble, but much like Michael Corleone in Godfather Part III, whenever he thinks he’s completely out, somehow he always gets pulled back in.
As usual, Patrick Stewart’s Charles Xavier represents the more hopeful and loving side of humanity. The difference this time, though, is his age has made his abilities uncontrollable and dangerous. Despite his condition, Xavier still serves as Logan’s voice of conscience and reason, and this pushing and pulling type of relationship between the two grumpy old men makes for some rather entertaining moments. Both actors shine brightly in this film and truly make this movie their duet swan song.
In addition to the two leads, the film has an outstanding supporting cast. Young actress Dafne Keen delivers a phenomenal performance as Laura, a quiet and peculiar young girl with some incredible and utterly frightening gifts and traits. Boyd Holbrook’s awesome turn as the sly and calculating villain, Donald Pierce, adds to the western feel of the movie. Comedian/actor Stephen Merchant brings his awkward and droll sense of humor to the mutant character Caliban. He also brings a heartfelt kindness and humanity to the character that, in a way, mirrors those qualities of Professor Xavier, as if he truly is one of his students. The film also features great performances by Elizabeth Rodriguez, Richard E. Grant, Eriq La Salle, Elise Neal, and Quincy Fouse.
Mangold also shines as a director, beautifully creating the perfect look, tone, and mood. The movie has a lengthy run time of two hours and seventeen minutes, but not once did I ever feel antsy or bored. Mangold paces the movie well and keeps his audiences captivated with all of its drama, action, and more poignant beats. The action sequences are impressively shot and edited and are sure to have audiences talking about them for a while. The director presents some of the most visceral and bloody action ever shown in an X-Men/Wolverine movie. The movie Deadpool also uses this approach, but mainly does it for the sake of subversive humor. Mangold mixes his carnage with moments that clearly aim to show how badass and deadly Wolverine is, and moments obviously intended to shock audiences. The more brutal moments succeed in doing this. Mangold doesn’t wish to glorify it all, but also aims to present the true unnerving and disturbing nature of violence.
The movie not only earns its R-rating from the intense and brutal violence, but also from the unfiltered language spouted by the beloved, but gruff Logan (besides others in the film). Parents should certainly keep this in mind when deciding if this film is appropriate for their children. In my opinion, it is more appropriate for teenagers and older. For any comic book fans or fans of comic book-inspired movies who feel that Wolverine’s cinematic portrayals have been too weak or watered-down, Logan definitely aims to please.
And not only will the unfiltered violence and language please fans, the outstanding character development and fantastic story-telling makes this a movie worthy of all kinds of audiences. Obviously, people who cannot handle brutal violence or dislike profanity will not enjoy this movie very much. However, those already invested in the X-Men franchise should absolutely love this movie. It breaks the heart to think that this could be the last time Hugh Jackman and Patrick Stewart will portray these characters, but part of me still takes that news with a grain of salt. These talented actors might just return again in an episode that takes place earlier in time. Either way, regardless of happens with the franchise, I hope this film will remain the concluding chapter to Fox’s X-Men series because I find it next to impossible to top this one. This film deserves mic drops from Mangold, Jackman and Stewart and they all deserve a standing ovation.