For nearly two decades Hugh Jackman has been Wolverine, and through all those years we’ve seen the character at his best and worst. From the humble beginnings in the first X-Men film, to the mediocre The Last Stand, to the down right appalling X-Men Origins: Wolverine, and to the redemption that was Days of Future Past. It has been a long, and bumpy, ride. However, through it all Jackman was always a major factor in what made those films enjoyable. And his final performance as the character is nothing short of spectacular.
To say that Logan is a great film is to only touch upon the accomplishment this film makes. Where other works in its genre are content with cookie cutter plots and maintaining a status quo, Logan dares to be bold. It pulls no punches, it hits you hard, and it is unapologetic in doing so. The film, in many ways, embodies an older style of film. One that hearkens back to a time when movies felt like they were about something, rather than being just 2 hour long, mind numbing, spectacle pieces. It is not only a breath of fresh air in a world over-saturated with superhero films, it is a film that reminds you what makes the medium so great in the first place. It is not just another superhero film, it is a masterpiece of cinema.
Borrowing from some of the best stories the comics have to offer, most notably Old Man Logan, the film weaves a melancholic tale that is more personal than the bombastic tales that are now only remembered via loose comic book adaptations. Gone are the days of the X-Men, and all mutants for that matter, as there only a handful still alive. We are introduced to a Wolverine who is beaten, sickly, and getting too old for this shit. In fact, almost everyone here is a shell of their former self. Even the usually kindly and cordial Charles Xavier has done away with pleasantries, tossing F-bombs as cavalierly as Logan himself.
The film embraces its R-rating with a flurry of fucks and brutally bloody battles. All to help solidify just how unforgiving Logan’s world has become. Not once does it feel gratuitous, instead just feeling like a natural aspect of the world our heroes have found themselves living in. It is a harsh world and it doesn’t seem to be letting up on Logan, who finds himself slowly being poisoned by his adamantium coated skeleton, which is sapping his healing ability to the extent that he’s not healing wounds as well as he used to. His claws can’t extend properly, and he’s more often than not getting his ass kicked. He’s also tending to an ailing Xavier who is now suffering from seizures that cause his powers to paralyze and kill people within his vicinity. And all Logan wants to do is save up enough money to buy a boat so he and Xavier can isolate themselves on the ocean.
However, things don’t go as planned as Logan soon finds himself face to face with a daughter he never knew he had. A young girl named Laura who is just like him in every way, right down to the adamantium claws and bad attitude. Reluctantly, he and Xavier decide to take her to a supposed haven for surviving mutants, and what follows is a film many are calling the best film of 2017. And I happen to be one of them.
When I say that, know I don’t say it lightly. It’s a testament to the skills of all those involved in the film’s production that this film achieves the levels of greatness that it does. Everyone is in top form here. Hugh Jackman, as always, owns the role of Wolverine and gets to finally throw around some well deserved F-bombs in his supposed final time as the character. Meanwhile, Patrick Stewart takes an interesting turn here as Charles Xavier, who is now a far cry from the wholesome Professor X and teacher of yore. Now, he is a broken man who can go toe-to-toe with Logan in swearing matches. The film drives home the idea that Charles has been a surrogate father for Logan all these years, and takes it to its logical conclusion. Every scene between Jackman and Stewart is a wonder to behold as they bicker with one another like an old, married couple.
The rest of the cast is excellent as well. With Stephen Merchant as the mutant Caliban, who serves as the voice of reason for Logan as well as his and Charles’s caretaker. Merchant has a few great scenes of verbal sparring with Logan that are quite memorable. On the other side we have Boyd Holbrook as Donald Pierce, a relentless mercenary on the hunt for Laura and self-confessed Wolverine fanboy. Holbrook is slimy and loathsome in the role and you can’t help but wish Logan would cut him to ribbons and be done with it. Commanding Pierce, and his fellow mercenaries, is Richard E. Grant’s Zander Rice, the head researcher behind Laura’s creation and the X-23 program. As always, Grant is just a perfect actor to have as your lead villain.
The most standout performance, however, is undoubtedly Dafne Keen’s Laura. Despite spending a majority of the film effectively mute, she manages to embody Laura with both the animalistic rage you’d expect from the child of Wolverine and a deep emotional range. Her icy stare alone gives Logan’s a run for its money. The young actress holds her own alongside the likes of Jackman and Stewart effortlessly. Yet it’s clear there’s a child underneath the weapon, and as the film progresses that child gradually emerges. She’s also no slouch in the action department, kicking more ass than even our eponymous anti-hero by a clear mile.
Sure, Logan may spend a majority of his time getting his ass kicked, but that doesn’t mean the action is lacking. This is action as it should be: in service of the story. Rather than being for the sake of spectacle and spectacle alone. The fights here are gritty, bloody, and have consequences. With Logan’s healing factor greatly diminished he can’t take the same punishment he used to. So every blow feels significant, and you actually worry that the once invincible Wolverine may not be able get out without some scars.
The R rating, once again, is used to the film’s advantage. Because when Logan does actually manage to lay the smackdown on some baddies it’s in spectacularly bloody fashion. Claws go through plenty of faces in this film and limbs go flying. One of the most memorable instances of this is in a scene where Logan must dispatch a group of mercenaries in a casino hotel while they are all being affected by one of Xavier’s seizures. Thanks to his healing factor Logan is slightly effected while everyone else is frozen solid, yet very conscious of their surroundings. Watching these mooks stare in horror as Logan dispatches them one by one is both intense and oddly humorous.
However these all pale in comparison to the film’s finale. Without getting into spoilers, it is an intense, action packed, and emotionally charged battle that proves to be a fitting end to Hugh Jackman’s tenure as the iconic mutant. By the end, my heart was pounding and tears were streaming down my face. And by the time the end credits began to roll I knew I was watching something more than another superhero film. I was watching a film that will be regarded as a classic in the years to follow. A fitting ending to a generation of films and a character beloved by millions.
To put it simply…