In the near future, a weary Logan cares for an ailing Professor X in a hide out on the Mexican border. But Logan's attempts to hide from the world and his legacy are up-ended when a young mutant arrives, being pursued by dark forces.
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Although the Disney-distributed Marvel movies have certainly given us plenty of memorable characters, few could top Wolverine when it comes to comic book movie notoriety. For nearly two decades Hugh Jackman has played Logan, the adamantium-clawed wild card on the X-Men roster, but eventually things were going to come to an end. It's a good thing then that Logan
, the final film for Jackman as the titular character, is as fitting of a send-off as one could hope for the character. More importantly, it's a comic book movie that has as much compelling drama, strong performances, and exciting action as any non-CBM.
It might take a short story to explain how Logan
got from the first X-Men
movie to here, but the only thing that viewers need to know is that this is the character at his rawest. Without the backing of a superhero team and without the leadership of Professor Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart), whose old age has transformed him into a frail fatherly figure, Logan is simply trying to make ends meet, keep Professor X's declining heath from destroying the world, and live out the rest of his miserable existence as his healing powers slowly slip away from him. Of course, Logan's temper and unbreakable metal bones and claws will get him into trouble from time to time, but by and large the character has resigned to a life that's unremarkable. That is, until a young girl named Laura (Dafne Keen) with powers not unlike Logan's appears.
For those who have been with the series thus far, it's best to leave most of Logan
's set-up and storyline unspoiled. At this point, fans have immersed themselves in a series that's rich with history, and seeing how Logan
flips those ideas on their heads is part of its appeal. For starters, Logan
is the first Wolverine
film to be rated R, and it earns its rating from the very first scene. At times it may feel like the film is overindulging in its newfound and violent freedom, but it still fits in with the character. In fact, it feels like we are finally seeing the Wolverine character as he was meant to be seen, in all his brutality.
That brutality isn't just highlighted in the action either, but in dialogue and the narrative. This is a film that takes the Logan character to some dark places, and director James Mangold handles the subject matter as he would any other. All of the gloss and sheen that we've come to expect from comic book movies is stripped away, and what is left is an endlessly compelling but extremely bleak final ride for Logan.
Even the film's antagonists don't have the bravado of traditional comic book villains; they are simply misguided characters with their own motivations. In an alternate universe, Logan is the villain of this story and it's easy to see things playing out differently. But with the history audiences have shared with the character it's hard not to be moved by every beat, to cheer at every stab and slice, and to savor every frame that's left with the character. Put simply: this is how you say goodbye to a character and also push comic book movies into a new phase, where they rival any drama.
It has taken four main X-Men movies
, two solo films
, and a handful of cameos to get here, but Logan
proves that all of the buildup was worth it. With the history of the character behind us, James Mangold and Hugh Jackman can explore Logan/Wolverine in a way that humanizes him more than any comic book character put to screen. Through Laura, and his relationship with Professor X, Logan
brings to light everything that makes Wolverine one of the most iconic and well known of any of the Marvel heroes. At the same time, the film never shies away from the brutality or the solitude that comes with being a character that is, for all intents, and purposes a vicious animal in a superhuman's body. Comic book movies aren't known for having layers, but Logan
isn't an average comic book movie; it's so much more than that.
As if the R rating wasn't an indication, Logan
is brutal in its violence. For years, we have seen CG puncture wounds and camera trickery to hide what happens when unstoppable claws meet tender flesh, but Logan finally admits that this character is an animal. For fans of the character, the action scenes in Logan
are what they have been waiting for. This is the Wolverine in all of his bloody glory, but nothing about it feels too gratuitous. It fits with the approach of the film and the direction of the character.
That being said, the action sequences are not going to be mind-blowing. For a film that's trying to keep things simple that makes sense, but following on the heels of franchise entries that saw Wolverine traveling through time and fighting Japanese thugs on a speeding bullet train, it's important to point out what Mangold and co. are going for. No question the film is enjoyable throughout, but it's best to temper expectations and understand that the action is a byproduct of the story, which is refreshing.