Running Time: 135 minutes
Directed by: James Mangold
Featuring: Hugh Jackman, Patrick Stewart, Richard E. Grant, Boyd Holbrook, Stephen Merchant, Dafne Keen, Eriq La Salle, Elise Neal and Elizabeth Rodriguez
Charles Xavier: “Logan, what did you do?”
Logan: “The world is not the same as it was, Charles. Mutants… they’re gone now.”
Never has one movie owed more to another movie than in this case, “Logan” (2017) owes a huge debt of to not only “Deadpool” (2016) but to Ryan Reynolds as well. “Deadpool” was the first R-rated (an American term) comic film to do huge global box office as well as getting rave reviews and setting up an erstwhile franchise it also broke new ground in terms of what a comic book movie could be. Both of these movies incorporate their own meta meanings into their plots as well as pushing the narratives of both along.
“Logan” (2017), as the title suggests seems to be distancing this current film from the two previous efforts, the average “The Wolverine” (2013) and the supremely inferior ”X-Men Origins: Wolverine” (2009), all three spin-offs from the X-Men series of films. A very wise move for a number of reasons, if you have seen the previews you will see why – this is a very different comic book and Wolverine film, it not only takes place in an all too real future it also embraces its own pop culture narrative – in its own unique way of course.
This is also the long touted last time Hugh Jackman and Patrick Stewart will play Logan/Wolverine and Professor X/Professor Charles Xavier in this comic book cinematic universe. It is fitting this has come to pass for no better reason than this is one of the greatest comic films put to screen – in fact I will take the previous two efforts if I am left with this one – it shines a shadow over all the X-movies, except maybe X2, still the one to beat.
“Logan” is set in the near future, one in which no new mutants have been born in two decades. As their numbers dwindled, Professor X’s (Patrick Stewart) dreams of a new stage in evolution slowly died. Logan (Hugh Jackman) is scraping a living as a limo driver in the town on the Mexican border and hustling for medication that he takes out south to a remote, makeshift home he shares with Caliban (Stephen Merchant), nursemaid to the infirm Professor X. Logan attempts to hide from the world and his legacy. However, when a mysterious woman (Elizabeth Rodriguez) asks for Logan’s help with Laura (Dafne Keen), a young mutant being pursued by dark forces, he is drawn back into action despite his hopelessness.
First up Hugh Jackman and Patrick Stewart nail their roles, as usual, but it always seems there is something more in them this time, maybe because they are both playing super heroes on the downside of their lives, for very different reasons. However, as is the case with these type of films the supporting cast really make the film that much better and believable, here we find the comic actor Stephen Merchant shine as Caliban a mutant with the power to sense other mutants and the incredible Dafne Keen as Laura (or if you like X-23) – Dafne is amazing and steals the film as a mutant being hunted by her creators. It is one of the more memorable cinematic debuts ever and in particular in a blockbuster.
The film is directed and co-written by James Mangold, who also directed “The Wolverine” (2013), who I feel had some unfinished business with the character and ably puts his stamp on this film. Mangold who has directed both big and small budgeted films acquits himself here nicely. As you watch the film you feel you are in the right hands, it is also obvious Mangold had a vision and an ending he wanted to get to without a trace of irony to be found. Make no bones about it this was a tough assignment for all involved but Mangold has not had an easy run of it over the past few years – however with this film he has knocked it out of the park. Onscreen it is obvious that everyone wanted to make the best movie possible and wanted to round out this trilogy on the very strongest notes, and they succeed in ways few films do. They embrace the flaws of the previous installments and make Logan a three-dimensional character that feels like he has nothing to lose, has fought the good fight and in his mind has lost everything.
There is so much going on in this film, there are issues of serious mental illness, as well as what happens when an entire way of life disappears, are there second acts truly for people who have lost everything? I don’t think there has ever been a comic book movie like this, one that explores what it means to be all-powerful in one life and then be hobbled in another. This film is so much about the future of a race of people that have been pushed to the brink of extinction and are brought back by the goodwill of a hero who is wiling to sacrifice everything for the good of the many. When the X-Men were created they were an allegory of the civil rights movement and over the years have represented other minorities in US and later in international culture – more than any other comic before or since they spoke to the perceived outsiders in popular culture. Only now could we say we need a film like this for the masses than ever before with the hostile environment that exists within not only US culture but seemingly the entire Western World.
I admit it is difficult to watch both Logan and Charles in both cases broken men, both physically paying for their past deeds and actions. I have grown up with these characters both on paper and onscreen, in previous efforts never once do you feel there are real stakes in terms of their success and survival no matter who they face, Apocalypse, Magneto or anyone else. In this film there is everything to play for, we even see Logan get badly beaten by some thugs at the beginning of the film, so the very real question is what happens to a broken down old mutant. I will leave you to discover this, but I assure you this film is original in almost every way.
This is the supposed last outing for both Jackman and Stewart so that should be reason enough to see this film, it is not the only one which is great, this is a fantastic film and I would rate it in the top five comic book films, it is that great. We are being given the best X-Men film yet it is incredibly rewatchable, something that everyone should own. All the character’s are drawn well, the action is incredible and there are at leat three or four surprises you will not see coming. Highly recommended.
“Logan” is out now on DVD & Blu-ray.