I am going to start by saying this is a review of Logan and there will be spoilers. This hasn’t been an issue for a long time since I have been excessively lackadaisical about posting my reviews. But since the movie just came out on Friday some people may get butt-hurt finding out story details that may ruin the enjoyment of them unfolding onscreen before them. So again SPOILER ALERT! You can’t say you weren’t warned. Proceed at your own risk.
Logan has been 17 years in the making. The X-Men cinematic universe started with the exciting yet overly disappointing X-Men movie. The effects were amateurish, the script lackluster, and the overall plot falling flat. But what it did do was bring beloved characters to life and that was the saving point to the film. Along this thread the casting of Hugh Jackman as Wolverine and Patrick Stewart as Charles Xavier was perfection. They were the embodiment of the characters they portrayed. No one has ever or will ever complain about their performances.
Despite the critical failure of the 2 following X-Men movies these 2 characters stayed fan favourites. This even managed to stay true even through the insulting dumpster fire that was Wolverine: Origins. And then the studio tried to make up for it with The Wolverine which was surprisingly less of a disappointment but a disappointment nonetheless. The characters were, let’s say, resurrected with the X-Men: A New Class, X-Men: Days of Future Past, and X-Men Apocalypse. James McAvoy’s portrayal of the young Xavier brought a new life and understanding of the character. With Jackman, simply because of what Wolverine is, he got to play all iterations of the character in all the timelines. And in all of it he was gruff, gritty, and mean but managed to be the most honourable of anyone met in this world.
Logan is the ultimate ending to this journey. It culminated is anger, pain, death, and sacrifice. It is a beautifully constructed film that though it is a comic book movie with people that can do fantastic things it is not about that. It is about the story, a journey, that just happens to star people with extraordinary abilities.
The year is 2029 and the mutant crisis has subsided. There have been no new mutants born in the last 10 years and those that are left are dying or are being tracked down and killed. Logan is working as a limo driver under his real name James Howlett making enough money to live and take care of the ailing nonagenarian Charles Xavier and his care taker Caliaban surprisingly played by the usually hilarious Stephan Merchant. He is tracked down by a woman who knows his true identity and is asked to take her and her daughter to a set of coordinates. This interaction leads authorities to his location and for them to flee. All this unearths a crooked medical enterprise that has been breeding cloned mutants and training them to kill.
Logan is a sombre, dark story that is rated R. The reason for this is clear in the opening scene of the movie. Logan awakes in the back of his car as a gang tries to jack his tires. There is swearing, there is blood, and the fight is more brutal than any of the previous movies. This scene perfectly sets the tone for the rest of the film. His downtrodden life has taken a toll and there is something wrong with him, he is old, he isn’t healing very quickly, he is sick. He is still the same surly Wolverine though, gruff, provoking and willing to fight. The only problem is he is not at peak performance so he gets beat up a lot. It is as if he forgets until he gets hit then it dawns on him that it is a bad idea but by then it is too late and he will not back down.
We soon meet the old senile Xavier that is kept in a tank in the middle of nowhere in Mexico. He has to be medicated most of the time just so he can be kept in check since his mind can do so much damage when not controlled. These damaging effects are brought to light very quickly. But it is sad to see him in this state. From being sane, the voice of reason and stability, wheeling about his mansion surrounded by all the mutants he so cared and nurtured for to being disconnected, unsure, failing, in a dusty space alone, sad, and lost. The sight is jarring to say the least. Patrick Stewart’s performance of this dilapidated Xavier is mesmerising. He is frail and weak but his will power and humour are still intact. He does not mince words when he knows what he wants to say.
In the timeline of the film it is a little while before we actually meet the other players in the movie. They show this passage of time by utilising a simple technique that is both interesting and arresting. You are given a glimpse into the life of a for hire limo driver. The camera pans back and forth from Logan to his passengers. From business man, to drunk frat boys, to busty party girls, to funeral goers. He is part of their world whether he wants to be or not but only for moments at a time. Everyday is the same but different.
When we do meet the third member of our trio of protagonists she is mute. She is talked at by people around her but only communicates with Xavier. Laura, beautifully portrayed by Dafne Keen, is a small vulnerable looking child. There is nothing dangerous looking about her until she gets angry. She snarls and screams as she stabs, beheads, and eviscerates people utilising her training and adamantium claws. She is a tiny force to be reckoned with as she easily defeats armed and armoured men triple her size.
Once they all get together this essentially turns into a road trip movie dotted with antics, violence, and sad revelations. They stop in a hotel do some shopping, eat some snacks, and get attacked. They stop to get gas and grab some food. Laura loses it cuz she is told she has to pay for the food she just picks off of shelves and starts scarfing down. A family invites them to stay the night after they helped them save their horses which turns into pure carnage.
When Xavier dies I was legitimately shocked and some girl behind me started to cry. I kid you not. I find it hard to make fun of her for that though as the scene was heart-wrenching. Dreamily waking from sleep after what he calls the perfect night and lamenting on not having a normal life. He is having a moment of clarity and confessing to his friend that he is finally remembering the horrible thing he did that caused the deaths of many people and forced Logan to squirrel him away. I believe this is in reference to the Onslaught Saga but that is never clarified. He is then callously stabbed in the chest by a clone of Logan. When he is rescued by the real Logan all Logan can say as words of comfort and reassurance are, “That wasn’t me.” almost as a mantra trying to not just get Xavier to understand it but for himself to understand it as well. As he stares into the eyes of his friend he silently passes. When I heard the news that Patrick Stewart would be retiring from playing Charles Xavier I was saddened by the news. He said, “I realised if this is the end, there is no more perfect and beautiful way to say au revoir, goodbye, adios, than what had just happened.” and until I saw the movie I could not believe that. But it is true. It is a bittersweet ending to the Xavier story but a perfect way to do so.
There was a particularly brutal and bloody fight that followed. There was the Men sent to hunt them down, some hot headed locals with bad timing, and unfortunately the family that welcomed them into their home. Eriq LaSalle as the father was fantastic. That last moment when he believes he killed the clone and then is about to do the same to Logan but with his shotgun barrel empty succumbs to his injuries. He is angry functioning on pure adrenaline and rage at what he perceives as the ultimate betrayal.
So far everything I have said seems overly sad and depressing. Yes this is a surprisingly heavy movie for a comic book film, but there are moments of levity. It is not really in one-lines but much more situational. There is the senility of Xavier that lends to some no-fucks-given responses. Laura’s inner child being let out as she experiences the world for the first time. The moment she rides one of the coin operated rides and it stops and all she wants is more of that soothing motion. And the general old man grumpiness that is Logan. It makes you chuckle when just a moment before you were wincing at vicious fights or just had your heart broken. It allows for an ebb and flow to the emotion of the characters and the audience. Allowing for a better connection between the two.
This ebb and flow also goes into the pacing of the film. The action sequences are intense, some long and needfully so but because there are those moments of quiet where the pace slows and there is a moment of respite, when the action does happen it is more impactful. It also leaves the audience on edge as they know the moments of quiet cannot last. They are being chased by relentless foes who will not stop so those quiet moments have to be cherished by the characters and the audience.
Speaking of foes I have yet to mention the antagonists. Boyd Holbrook plays Pierce. A man hired to hunt Laura down and uses the guise of him being a policeman to do so. He his tattooed, enhanced with a robot hand, and cocky. He goes into this armed and manned but he still managed to underestimate his opponent. There is also Dr. Rice played by Richard E Grant. The man who ran the facility where Laura was created. He is after his property. She is not a child or a person but a piece of equipment that he created that has gone awry. He is a callous and calculating person who only has his interest at heart. They throw a lot of masked henchmen at the problem that are ferociously torn asunder. These characters are well played as by the end of the film you are more than happy to see their demise. You dislike them. You are disgusted by them. They have to go.
Logan and Laura make it to their destination. There they are met by a group of kids that were part of the same program that Laura was part of. They help Logan heal. It is going slowly and not well. He isn’t really healing or getting better. They are planning on heading through the woods and up through a mountain pass to get across to Canada where they can be safe. Logan is not going with them but as they leave Dr Rice and Pierce catches up with the group of kids. And Logan being who he is cannot let that injustice happen. This final battle that has the kids being hunted and chained like animals and Logan stepping into a fight that he cannot possibly win. But Laura and him fight together and win but it leads to his death. Yes this is the death of Logan, Wolverine as we have come to know him the last 17 years in the cinematic world has come to an end. I should have been but I was not prepared for it and apparently neither was the girl sitting behind me as she was crying again. It was an obvious turn of events but I don’t think anyone in the audience thought it was actually going to happen. Laura whispers, “Daddy” as she cries and he lays dying. Logan as well as the audience are shocked that she knows he is her father even though we have known this from almost the start. It is another heart-wrenching moment as that connection is solidified and then he is gone. The kids bury him and head into the woods to their freedom.
If you don’t know Logan is based on the “Wolverine: Old Man Logan” comic series. A series I had heard a lot about but sadly I have not read. I cannot give a comparison but if this movie is anywhere near the comic that comic is phenomenal. I am very curious as to the artistic licenses that were taken where and why and if it improved or diminished the story. But no matter how you look at it Logan is an amazing movie and I don’t mean for a comic book movie just in general. It is well written, shot, edited, cast, just everything about it works. I don’t know why it took so long to make a movie like this but I am glad they closed out this story so perfectly.