Last Updated on July 31, 2021
PLOT: In a near-future where mutants are mostly extinct, an aging Logan (Hugh Jackman) ekes out a living as a chauffeur under an assumed identity. He uses most of his money to buy much-needed illegal meds for Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart), whose abilities, mixed with his encroaching dementia, have made him unstable and dangerous to be around. When a young woman offers Logan a big pay-day to protect a child, he takes the job, only to realize the young girl has powers of her own that rival his, and that there are forces out there bent on harnessing her power for themselves.
REVIEW: People have been clamoring for an R-rated Wolverine movie from the first time Hugh Jackman popped the claws seventeen years ago. While there have been tiny tastes of a balls-out solo movie, notably through the unrated director’s cut of THE WOLVERINE, it’s taken eight films to finally give the fans what they want. Has it been worth the wait? Absolutely!
Right from the start, it’s clear director James Mangold isn’t fooling around, with Logan saying “oh f**k,” being the first line of dialogue, followed by a very violent scrap with some carjackers that ends with missing limbs and horribly mutilated bad guys. What would happen to a body if a man with massive claws attacked it? You find out here, with Wolverine’s victims looking like they met Freddy Krueger in a nightmare.
This is the Wolverine film Jackman has said he wanted to make for years, and an unapologetically adult entry into the superhero genre, far more violent than DEADPOOL or even the recent JOHN WICK movies. The wounds are graphic and the body count is huge – and not all the victims are baddies. This is a dark new world that Logan inhabits and we see it in a no holds barred way.
If indeed this is Jackman’s last time as Logan, he’s chosen a fine swan song, with this ranking as his best performance to date in the role. He’s like an animal here, although in a concession to the character’s mortality the physique has been suitably toned down. Jackman throws himself into the action scenes, but also makes the most of Mangold’s elegiac approach. Very much a modern western, Mangold’s intentions are clear from the way he uses George Stevens’s SHANE as a guide, with Patrick Stewart’s Xavier and Dafne Keen’s X-23 watching it in a hotel room with episodes from the film being recreated in the middle section.
It’s actually this part of the film, as Logan, X-23, and Xavier hit the road, when LOGAN is at its best, with a violent episode in Vegas and a terrific chapter involving a family (led by E.R’s Eriq La Salle) among the highlights. Anyone who might have worried that Logan being paired up with a child would mean it would be watered down should think again. Keen’s X-23 is ferocious in her own right, being unable to control her abilities, acting animal-like and chalking up many gruesome kills.
Like Jackman, Stewart also gets some good material to chew on, with Xavier being on-the-edge throughout and on the verge of losing his mind. A broken man who curses constantly, Stewart sinks his teeth into the part, while also hinting at mysteries that could be resolved in future X-Men movies taking place between the DAYS OF FUTURE PAST finale and this. My only issues with LOGAN are that the third act feels anti-climactic, while the villains are, as usual, nowhere near as interesting as the heroes, with Boyd Holbrook’s Donald Pierce and the Reavers being anonymous fodder for Wolverine’s claws and Richard E. Grant’s Zander Rice too much of a non-entity. Outside of the core trio, Stephen Merchant, atypically serious, fares well as the tortured Caliban, who emerges as a really intriguing side character.
It’s tough to imagine X-MEN fans not being ecstatic for how Mangold, after an uneven THE WOLVERINE, has managed to make the spin-off we’ve hoped for since the announcement of X-MEN ORIGINS: WOLVERINE, which is now, thankfully, a distant memory. It’s not unlike his own 3:10 TO YUMA in how character and action are mixed, and how the Western genre is explored, even if we have cars instead of horses. Even Marco Beltrami’s score plays homage to the genre, although he also incorporates some freaky piano riffs to give it an unusual feel that works well with the film. It’s the superhero movie we’ve been waiting for, in that finally it’s something totally different. Make no mistake, this is even more radical than DEADPOOL and hopefully a film that will pave the way for riskier superhero films moving forward.