Review - 'Logan'
Have you ever wondered what the Wolverine would be like on the big screen without those PG-13 X-Buddies restraining him? Have you ever been impressed by those six massive, lethal-looking blades protruding from Logan's knuckles only to be let down when you never really get to see him do some real work with them? If your answer to both of those questions is yes, than Logan is finally the Wolverine film you've been waiting for.
Logan follows, well, Logan (Hugh Jackman), as he hides away in southern Texas working as a limo driver while taking care of an ailing Xavier (Patrick Stewart). A Latino woman tracks Logan down and begs him to take her daughter, Laura (Dafne Keen) to a place in North Dakota called "Eden". Logan, who has grown old and bitter refuses at first, but after an encounter with Donald Pierce, a seemingly dangerous man that is seeking her (Boyd Holbrook) he reluctantly seeks Laura out and takes her under his wing, but not before Pierce and his men kill her mother. Logan soon discovers that he and Laura have much more in common than he could have ever imagined and he must find the will to fight his external and internal demons to insure she makes it to safety.
It's odd to have the third film in a trilogy be as good as Logan is. I'm so used to the third film being the time where we are all disappointed. Just think about the string of failures we've been treated to before this: X-Men: The Last Stand, Spider-man 3, The Dark Knight Rises, The Matrix Revolutions, Terminator 3: Judgement Day, Alien 3, X-Men Apocalypse, The Godfather: Part III...I could go on but I think you get the idea. Logan looks at the scattered wreckage of disappointing threequels and walks confidently in the opposite direction, in fact, this whole Wolverine trilogy has played out completely backwards when you compare it to its peers. First we were treated to X-Men Origins: Wolverine, which was just plain bad, then we got The Wolverine, which was a massive improvement but still had its fair share of issues, and now we have Logan, which is easily the best film of the three and up their among the finest of comic book-based films.
Under the assured direction of James Mangold, Logan bucks the trend and delivers on nearly every level. I was starting to think that it wasn't possible that we could get a great film out of the character without the rest of the X-Men around, but James Mangold proves here that they just hadn't quite gotten the formula right in the previous two, also, having the unadulterated Deadpool preceding it probably didn't hurt. This film is violent, and not in the still-PG-13-ish way that the Batman V. Superman Ultimate Edition was. Heads roll, limbs fly and endless waves of henchman are skewered like shish-kabobs as the Wolverine lays waste to anyone that dares oppose him. There are times when the movie over-corrects and becomes a wee-bit too bloodlusty, but I mostly chalk that up to the filmmakers basking in the sweet release from their restraints and as a big apology to audiences for the 17 years of neutered, bloodless Wolverine kills they've endured.
The violence, though extremely graphic, never does a disservice to the plot. This is a grim tale and the relentless amount of killing makes this semi-futuristic world feel all-the-more dangerous. Nobody is safe and all-of-a-sudden we have our first "superhero film" in years that feels alive and unpredictable. I love me some superhero films, but I always know how they're going to end, and I'm really starting to grow tired of that. Marvel Studios might produce the most consistently good films, but the X-Men off-shoot films are starting to become fascinating wildcards that relish the idea of doing away with the popular trends. I walked out of Logan completely blown away by how ballsy it was. I won't spoil anything, but Logan has the guts to do something that The Dark Knight Rises had an opportunity to do, but totally got cold feet on, and the great Christopher Nolan who has all the creative control he could ever dream of couldn't make it happen!
This film also contains the final portrayal of the Wolverine character by Hugh Jackman. Going into this movie I was saddened by the fact that I would never see him again as he was arguably the best part of the X-Men films and one of the main reasons I kept returning to see them. After seeing this film and his performance, I'm glad it's his last. This is easily his best and most emotional performance and a excellent grand finale to his long career of playing the character. This is also probably the last time we will see Patrick Stewart as Professor Xavier. From the start and to this day, he is the definitive Professor X in my mind. I love McAvoy's portrayal as the younger and less refined version of the character, but Patrick Stewart completely exudes the pathos, wisdom and sweetness of the character and is still un-matched.
New-comer Dafne Keen, who plays Laura, more popularly known as X-23, is fantastic. She was probably ten years old when she filmed this role and all I can say is; I don't ever want to cross paths with this girl in fear that I might have my throat mercilessly slit. From a physical standpoint, her performance cannot be faulted and she is a great choice for the part. Stephen Merchant also does a great job in a smaller role. He plays Caliban, a mutant that can see into the near-future. He helps take care of Xavier while Logan is away at his job and he provides a bit of levity amidst the gloom. That said, Caliban has his own dark path to walk and Merchant shows a great range of emotions that really makes you feel for his character. The weakest link here is probably Boyd Holbrook, who plays the villain, Donald Pierce. He's not bad, but he definitely verges on mustache-twirling from time-to-time. I also thought his southern accent was a little too thick to take seriously.
Despite how excellent this film is, it does have its fair share of problems. There's a big exposition dump that occurs towards the middle of the film that really didn't seem necessary and is presented in a way that is pretty unbelievable. What frustrated me about this was that there were ways in which they could have gone about conveying said information in a way that would not have seemed illogical, but they came to the conclusion that this way was easier. I also thought the villains were really sloppy and pretty dumb when it came to trying to capture their subject. Finally, there are some non-Wolverine mutant powers on display in this film, and while the CG effects implemented for them are pretty good, it's still noticeable, especially in a film that is as down-to-earth real as this one is. These are all nit-picks and don't detract much from the film itself, but it would have been nice if these aspects had been smoothed out a bit.
In the end, Logan is a fitting send-off to Hugh Jackman's Wolverine/Logan as we've come to know him. The end to this film is so poignant and bittersweet that while I'm sad to see him go, I'm overjoyed that he left on such a perfect note.