Comic book films are more abundant these days than ever, with dozens more on deck to be released in the coming years. That’s why it’s so important to keep things fresh, so as to not feel like we’re treading on the same ground time and time again. Marvel Studios has done a solid job of that so far, still leading the pack when it comes to a consistent wave of multiple films a year that all have their own look and feel, for the most part. 20th Century Fox, on the other hand, has had some ups and downs with the Marvel licenses they own.
Their most notable franchise is X-Men, and it has had more hits than misses. This has allowed for a successful spin-off franchise for Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine character. Jackman has been the one consistent throughout all the sequels, always proving to be the character that audiences want to see most – not only because Jackman is superb in the role, but also because Wolverine is the one character they always seemed to get right over the rest.
Logan is Jackman’s 10th time out as Wolverine if you count the pair of unaccredited brief appearances he made in X-Men: First Class and X-Men: Apocalypse, and is easily his best work as the character to date. After the success of last year’s R-rated Deadpool, Wolverine finally gets the R-rating fans have long desired. This time out, there’s no pulling any punches, er, claws. No, this film earns its R-rating in magnificent fashion.
Logan is the most visceral, gritty and emotional comic book film ever made. There’s an incredible amount of violence to be had here, but none of it is gratuitous. Director James Mangold (who also directed 2013’s The Wolverine) has crafted a beautifully somber tale alongside co-writers Scott Frank and Michael Green that really puts the character of Logan in a position he rarely finds himself in – one of vulnerability.
The film takes place in the year 2029, the X-Men have long disbanded, and the mutant population is on the brink of extinction with no new mutants having been born for years. Logan, whose own mutant powers are quickly deteriorating, now spends his time as a chauffeur, laying low, trying to scrape together enough cash to buy a boat and escape into the sunset with a dangerously ill Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart).
Taking place well into the future and with this being an X-Men film of sorts, the writers are able to go carte blanche as far as what happened in the past that lead our heroes to their current precarious position – and yet, they handle that masterfully as well. Instead of going into a long-winded explanation as to what happened all at once, it’s instead hinted at or briefly touched upon throughout the film, giving the viewer enough to understand, but also showing that the exact details aren’t overly important.
The main story here is that of Logan coming to terms with the fact that as much as he wants to hide and drink away his problems, it’s never too late to try and find happiness and purpose. That opportunity arises this time in the form of a young mutant named Laura (Dafne Keen), who possesses the same healing powers that have helped keep Logan alive all these years, as well as the adamantium claws that made Wolverine the killing machine he always has been. With a powerful corporation hunting her down, it’s up to Logan to take her and Charles to the Canadian border, and to safety.
Mangold did a great job bringing a much edgier side of Wolverine to the silver screen in The Wolverine. There were plenty of moments that time out where it felt as though an R-rating would’ve made the film stronger, and that’s still likely the case – especially seeing what Mangold does this time out with that ability. This is not a film that children that may have seen the previous X-Men – and even Wolverine – films should be seeing. This is a bloody, bloody movie.
That said, Mangold executes the film flawlessly. The story is so raw and engrossing that when Logan does break out in various berserker rages, the audiences is behind him because they’re emotionally connected to the journey that he’s on. Sure it’s great to see Wolverine slice and dice because he’s Wolverine, but this time out, Logan is different…he’s older, he’s hurting, and he’s continually haunted by the bodies he’s piled up over the years. It’s clear to see all of this with how Mangold captures Logan on screen, and so when the violence does erupt, there’s often a lot more emotional weight to it than simply seeing nameless soldiers being impaled for the sake of blood and a cool R-rating.
Now you can’t deliver an impactful cinematic experience if the acting isn’t up to par, and there’s no denying that Jackman is Wolverine. It’s been 17 years of this man playing this character, and the importance of playing this part to him is incredibly clear this time out. While he’s always knocked it out of the park, whether it be carrying the entire film on his shoulders, or simply rejecting Xavier and Magneto’s recruitment attempt with two simple words, Jackman brings the character to a new level with his work in Logan.
The emotional connection that this film shares with its audience is thanks to the performance Jackman gives, which, lets face it, is award worthy. It’s also thanks to the phenomenal chemistry that he shares with Keen. In her big screen debut, this young lady absolutely crushes it. She’s a scene-stealer in fight scenes that involve Wolverine…doesn’t that say it all? The chemistry these two share is vital to the film’s foundation, and I’m happy to say that it’s forged in adamantium. I could watch them work together as these characters for years and years to come. It’s just that perfect.
It’s been a long road for Wolverine, and with this being Jackman’s last hurrah, we as fans couldn’t have asked for more. Everyone involved brought their A+++ game and never let it falter. Logan is such a beautiful film. So much so that even with as long as this review has been, it’s really hard to put into words just how beautiful it is. This is the swan song that Jackman’s portrayal of Wolverine deserves, and the Wolverine film that fans have been waiting for.
Director: James Mangold Writers: James Mangold & Scott Frank, and Michael Green Notable Cast: Hugh Jackman, Dafne Keen, Patrick Stewart, Boyd Holbrook, Stephen Merchant
Brendan Campbell was here when Inside Pulse Movies began, and he’ll be here when it finishes – in 2012, when a cataclysmic event wipes out the servers, as well as everyone else on the planet other than John Cusack and those close to him. Brendan’s the #1 supporter of Keanu Reeves, a huge fan of popcorn flicks and a firm believer that sheer entertainment can take a film a long way. He currently resides in Canada, where, for reasons stated above, he’s attempting to get closer to John Cusack.