Logan Review – Hanging Up The Claws

Logan Review – Hanging Up The Claws

In recent years Fox has begun to be more adventurous with its X-Men franchise with varying results. The most notable example is last year’s Deadpool which was a breath of fresh air for the superhero genre and wasn’t concerned with the standard philosophical battle between Charles and Eric. As Hugh Jackman’s final outing, the studio decided to take the restraints of Wolverine for an R-rated adventure that explored Logan as a character in a future where mutants are all but removed from society. The film manages to emulate Deadpool‘s success and after all the ensemble pieces and solo films, Wolverine finally gets a real chance to shine.

The film is set in 2029 when all but a few mutants are gone. Logan lives with Xavier and a new mutant to the film franchise named Caliban across the Mexican border. All is not well as Xavier has some form of dementia and is reliant on his medication to prevent seizures which have catastrophic effects on those around him due to his powerful telepathic abilities. The introduction of a young girl and a shady organisation is what forces Logan out of his daily routine as a limo driver and puts him and Charles on the run.

Logan

Logan is a fitting title for the movie because it isn’t about ‘The Wolverine’ at all. That version of the character worked in a team and although somewhat of a loose cannon had a strong moral centre. In this film though, Logan is unwilling to come to the aid of those in need and is beat down and frustrated with his situation as well as Charles who is part of the problem. Xavier isn’t the only one having problems with his powers either as Logan’s healing abilities appear to be slowing and he looks to have aged.

Over the course of seven or so films, Jackman has really made the role into his own but bad scripts, poor stories and the need to be somewhat kid-friendly has held him back in some regards. Logan on the other hand is Jackman’s best performance as the character to date. Instilled with a weariness and fatigue, the character bursts into action with a renewed style thanks to James Mangold being able to depict the reality of being skewered by metal claws in a more realistic and brutal fashion. But credit should go to Jackman too for giving a layered, tortured performance as he struggles to survive in this new world and the veteran actor can be proud of where the character ends up.

Logan trailer, Logan

This is a dark, gritty version of the X-Men universe even more so than the apocalyptic scenarios the X-Men proper have found themselves at in the past. Patrick Stewart gives his most emotional performance as Charles Xavier and it’s heartbreaking to see the character who so often helped others come to terms with their powers feeling the weight of his own and really he’s a broken man like Logan in this film. The young star of the film, Dafne Keen is a bright spark for the future of the X-Men universe and shares a deep connection with Wolverine. Her action scenes are incredible and visceral meanwhile she also holds her own alongside two experienced actors. The story and themes of the film focus on survival and legacy and despite the world-ending events the X-Men normally face, this film feels way more threatening for the protagonists than any X-Men film before it.

Not everything in the film is outstanding. The villains while dangerous aren’t particularly interesting or enigmatic to watch. This isn’t a huge problem since the story doesn’t dwell on them but it would have been nice to have a truly menacing villain along the way. It would also have been neat to have a more explicit explanation of what has happened to all the mutants. The film references a Westchester incident – where Xavier’s school was based and it appears Charles had one of his seizures killing many people – some of them presumably mutants. Meanwhile, Richard E. Grant’s Dr. Zander Rice has somehow suppressed the mutant gene so no more mutants are being born. This secrecy does lead to perhaps the most powerful scene in the film though as Xavier suddenly recalls the ‘Westchester incident’ which Logan has been hiding from his senile mind and gives a truly heartbreaking speech.

One of the most impressive things about Logan is that it retreads old threads and even scenes from the other films and yet makes them feel fresh and entertaining. There’s another forest scene for example where Wolverine fights a load of bad guys and the theme of persecution is still a prominent feature. Thanks to stellar performances from Hugh Jackman, Patrick Stewart and Dafne Keen, Logan is not only a high point for the X-Men series and Wolverine but stands as one of the best superhero films made to date.

What did you make of Logan? Was the film as powerful as the material it’s based on?

Share your thoughts in the comments!

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