Starring: Hugh Jackman, Patrick Stewart, Dafne Keen, Stephen Merchant, Boyd Holbrook, Elizabeth Rodriguez, Richard E. Grant
Directed By: James Mangold
Plot: After playing Logan for 17 years, Hugh Jackman says goodbye to the character in an adaptation of the Old Man Logan graphic novel. A weary Logan (Jackman) finds himself one of only a few mutants left, and the last remaining X-Man taking care of a senile Professor X (Stewart), with the help of Caliban (Merchant), another mutant. His life is turned upside down when the Professor senses a new mutant has arrived, something that hasn’t happened in 25 years. It’s up to Logan to protect the last of his kind, which may also be the last hope for a lasting legacy for Logan.
What Works: Holy shit this was fantastic. I mean, I enjoyed The Wolverine through its faults, but Logan just makes all previous X-Men films look like… what were they doing? The best part about Logan is that it never feels like a comic book movie, perhaps due to the lack of mutants in the film, or the directors commitment to actual storytelling and character development. These characters feel so incredibly real, perhaps for the first time ever. Logan and Professor X are finally facing their own mortality, and Jackman and Stewart give some absolutely fantastic performances. Honestly, and I’m dead serious, this should be an awards contender. It’s that good. Jackman has never been better as Logan, and the time he’s put into the character over the years finally pays off. You can see how exhausted he is, as he limps his way through each scene. He’s barely holding on, as is Stewart, who allows himself to be seen as helpless and frail in his old years. He needs Logan to care for him the way your grandparents might need a nursing home. Logan is responsible for feeding Charles, putting him to bed, helping him to the toilet, and giving him his medications. This is a very different X-Men film, and certainly a wholly original take on the “comic book” film. I would definitely consider nominating either of these two for Oscars, depending on how the year goes. Also, Dafne Keen is fantastic as X23. She doesn’t talk throughout most of the movie, but it never feels pretentious. She always just seems to be in the moment as her character, and when she’s finally asked to deliver an emotional punch at the end of the film, she proves she can do that too. She’s quite a discovery, and I hope to see more from her in the future. As far as the direction goes, I love how this film almost has an indie action/western feel to it. There’s a bit of Hell Or High Water in here. The action scenes are intense, as the stakes are real. You know Logan is at his end, and he’s not necessarily going to survive every fight. The idea that he could go at any moment keeps each action scene interesting. They did make some use of the R rating, with a few decapitations, one full body explosion, and some slicing and dicing, but overall there have been much more violent films. It also allows the characters to curse, and I honestly laughed the first time I heard Professor X tell Wolverine to “fuck off”. That was great. Caliban was an interesting choice, and this is the second X-film he’s been in now. Both times he’s been skinny and kinda wimpy, when in the comic books he was anything but that. And our villain, Pierce, is also from the comics, and I thought he was adapted well too. I don’t want to spoil the ending, but in the third act, some cool characters are introduced, and I totally wouldn’t mind seeing an X23 plus those characters film.
What Doesn’t Work: Just a few nitpicky things. If Xavier could sense Laura, why didn’t he sense the other kids in the experiment? If Caliban’s ability is to find other mutants, when he grabbed Laura’s backpack out of the trunk, wouldn’t he have immediately been able to find her? Why is he asking Logan where she is. That’s your power, bro. I also kinda wanted a bit more exposition about how we got here. They barely explained why there are no mutants. There’s a news story we hear about the Westchester incident, where Xavier apparently lost his mind and killed some of the X-Men, but what about the rest of the mutants? There are thousands of them. Are we really to believe they got them all except Logan, Xavier, and Caliban? And if so, why were those three the last ones alive? Just a little more backstory is all I needed. I was getting breadcrumbs, but it wasn’t enough.
Final Word: I love X2 with all my heart, and it is my favorite X-Men film… still. Logan might end up dethroning that, but I won’t actually know until I’ve seen it again. One of the things I love about X2 is the rewatchability factor, and since I haven’t seen Logan twice yet, I don’t know. However, I think Logan is the best made X-Men film, we’ve seen to date. It might even be the best comic book film we’ve seen since The Dark Knight. It’s an absolute must see in theatres, and I’m so glad this film lived up to the hype. Hugh Jackman and Wolverine deserved a proper send off, and they got it. It’s about damn time.
Final Grade: A