By 2029, the mutant population has depleted and the X-Men have split up. Logan (Hugh Jackman) is no longer the man he was, as his cellular regeneration deteriorates. He has bowed to the power of alcohol and now pays his way by being driver. He looks after the ageing Professor X (Patrick Stewart) but one day, a stranger asks him to drive a girl called Laura to the Canadian border for $50,000. Things like this are normally too good to be true and this is, as this Laura brings trouble and heat to man who wants to disappear. “She’s like you. Very, very much like you” says the Professor. But she needs help, rather like how Wolverine did all those years back.
From her solitariness to her fighting style to her genetic mutation, Laura/X-23 (Dafne Keen) is mini-Wolverine. She is pursued by Pierce (Boyd Holdbrook) and his goons. They work for a powerful corporation that grow mutants, and Laura/X-23 was made from Logan’s DNA. In Hugh Jackman’s ninth and last time as the character, we are witness to a cat and mouse chase. In the third solo Wolverine feature, we see comic book characters plagued with life’s problems like mortality and bill-paying. An ageing Logan asks himself whether he wants to put his remaining powers to use in a world where the X-Men can no longer hold the world to ransom with adamantium claws, telekinesis or optic force blasts.
Let me begin by saying, this doesn’t feel like a comic book movie to me. I don’t see superheroes here. I see people who are buckling to life’s problems in a very real world. The way it’s filmed is unlike any superhero movie we’ve seen before. It’s as if James Mangold did Sicario or Hell Or High Water. It’s got that sort of gritty, western Texan edge. The opening lines of this film are “what the fuck” and they are followed by lots of blood-splatters and limbs flying all over the place. This is the goddamn Wolverine I’ve been waiting for. From the violence to the swearing to the sheer gore, this is Wolverine uncaged. I did my waiting… twelve years of it… in Azkaban.
In Hugh Jackman’s last entry as Logan, something has happened and the X-Men are no longer together. Director James Mangold has made a film that is predominantly colourless. I guess that could be interpreted as a reflection of Wolverine’s mental state. This guy’s past it. He’s had enough and simply wants to die. Life and society have taken too much from him, including his dignity. We are witness to a tired character that no longer belongs in a world that has hated him for over a century. Once again, Hugh Jackman (Les Misérables) has shown us that nobody else will be as good as him when it comes to playing Wolverine.
The supporting cast is excellent. Patrick Stewart (No Man’s Land) delivers his best performance yet as Professor X and if it weren’t for the comic book bias in Hollywood when it comes to Academy Awards in main categories, I’d say Patrick Stewart deserves an Oscar nod in ‘Best Actor in a Supporting Role.’ Boyd Holbrook (Narcos) is astounding, dangerous and slippery as Pierce. Stephan Merchant as Caliban is very good as well. Somehow, he reminded me of Rogue One‘s K2SO (Alan Tudyk) in an odd, annoyingly likeable sort of way. I really enjoyed his scenes with Holdbrook. They worked well together and I’d be interested in seeing them in future projects.
Laura (Dafne Keen) is rather sweet, but then her sweetness is soon put to bed when she is severing heads and limbs, taking out dozens of men. She’s Kevin from Home Alone with claws and she doesn’t need prep-time. We don’t need to recast Logan. We have Dafne Keen as Weapon X-23. I don’t mind waiting a few years for to age up a little for it either. Logan is a gore-fest. It’s full of bloody violence from the first minute but it doesn’t feel forced. After Deadpool, it seems studios can make them as violent as possible. Though, Blade and The Crow did it first in the 1990s. At the moment, we’re in the Age Of Comic Book Movies. If there ever was a time to do an R-Rated comic book movie, it’d be now, whilst the iron is still hot.
“Nature made me a freak. Man made me a weapon. And God made it last too long” says Logan. I love quotes like this: potent, relevant and straight to the point. Nature is man’s greatest enemy. Time and time again, humanity works against it, and Wolverine blames God for not killing him sooner. “This is what life looks like: people love each other. You should take a moment…” says Charles (Stewart). Having grown up with the character on film, it’s hard for me to say that Wolverine has never known a day’s happiness in his life. He’s a tortured soul and after living a an exceedingly long life, he simply wants to die but nature won’t let him and neither will Charles.
This film presents us with old man Logan. It’s an escort mission involving X-23. She’s capable of far more than Wolverine or the Professor give her credit for. She can fend for herself but she knows nothing of Earth’s preset conventions of society. I’d love to see her alongside Sophie Turner’s Jean Grey and company in a future X-Men movie. Logan is old, hairy and even more animalistic in his rage than we see in other movies. Previously, he has held back, but this time around he pulls out all the stops. He unleashes the beast and he is truly in our faces. Logan is but a shadow of his past self and begins to see elements of his young self in this girl’s persona.
Every scene feels necessary. From the character development to the humour to the remorseless violence: nothing feels forced and even the severed heads feel like a breath of fresh air. Furthermore, we don’t have a lacklustre villain, a factor in which both Fox and the MCU have been guilty of in their past superhero movies. With excellent performances, a well-written narrative and Oscar-worthy make-up design, Logan is certainly worth the ticket price and is now showing in cinemas worldwide. This is the end of an era and I’m sad it’s Hugh’s last bout with the adamantium claws.
Raw, emotional and bloody: an adult risk-taker with a beauty to its ugliness