“Fuck” is the first word out of Hugh Jackman’s mouth in Logan. Shortly followed by the very graphic evisceration of a group of cholos who make the unfortunate mistake of trying to lift the hubcaps off of a limo that belongs to the now ex-Wolverine. From the very start Logan embraces its R-rating and lets you know that this is going to be a very different X-men film. By which it’s not really an X-men film at all but a western-tinged pursuit film that brings to a close a cinematic relationship that has lasted the past 17 years.
We catch up with Logan (Hugh Jackman) in 2029, he’s older, weaker and an alcoholic. He drives a limo for a living taking the bereaved to funerals, young people to parties and himself down to Mexico where he’s hiding a near-senile Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart). Mutants are all but extinct and there’s no ensemble team up to be had this time around.
The plot is pretty simple and in familiar X-men territory, there’s experimentation on mutants, super soldiers, and of course Logan’s unwilling participation in events outside his own life. But keeping the plot simple allows greater opportunity for the small selection of leads to shine. The majority of screen time is spent with Logan, Charles and Laura as they flee a decidedly dodgy military research company led by serviceable villains Pierce (Boyd Holbrook) and Dr. Rice (Richard E. Grant). Laura or X-23 as she’s known, is a new mutant created from scratch to be a killing machine and she shares similar adamantium claws and healing features to our reluctant hero, and Pierce wants her back.
Laura (played by Dafne Keen) is a great addition and is another in a growing line of strong child performances in cinema. But it’s the relationship between Logan and Charles that forms the heart and soul of this film as Charles, who despite losing his hold on his mind and his abilities, still tries to save Logan’s soul. For me, one of the standout scenes of the whole film is when Logan, Charles and Laura are simply having dinner together just talking about times gone by.
“Two days on the road, only one meal, and hardly any sleep. She’s 11, I’m fucking 90…”
– Charles Xavier
It helps that having had both actors play the roles for so long, Logan can utilise the audience’s relationship with these characters to great emotional effect. And Logan really does feel like the end of an era, with both Jackman and Stewart saying goodbye to the roles that they have personified in nearly two decades of cinema.
It gives me great satisfaction to say then that Logan is one of the very best X-men films to date. It’s a fierce and fitting story for one of cinema’s most famous anti-heroes, true to the character and the violence that follows him. Logan is tired, he’s damn tired, and his slowing regeneration adds a vulnerability that we’ve not seen before. Far away from the large CGI spectacle showdowns that superhero films are now known for, Logan brings everything back to a personal level and is all the better for it.
That’s not to say there isn’t action to be enjoyed here, Logan contains some fantastic violence, A LOT of people get stabbed in this film. But it’s not violence for the sake of violence, it’s perfectly in tone with the honest approach that Logan takes as we get to see the toll that such violence takes on a person and the film remains true to the character. What did take a little while to get used to was the frequency with which the f-word gets used. For a franchise that very seldom swore, it’s used so frequently that it feels a little overused at times, as if it’s is trying to add edge and further justify its R-rating.
But on the whole Logan is a beautifully written, beautifully shot film that brings a satisfying conclusion to the Jackman/Stewart X-men saga. It’s definitely one of my favourite ‘superhero’ films, mostly because it dares to do something different and focuses on the characters rather than the world they inhabit resulting in a heartfelt farewell that shines as one of Wolverine’s best.