Hugh Jackman hangs up those iconic claws in a fitting farewell…
Starring: Hugh Jackman, Patrick Stewart, Dafne Keen, Boyd Holbrook, Stephen Merchant, Richard E. Grant
Directed by: James Mangold / Written by: Scott Frank, James Mangold & Michael Green (story by James Mangold) / 135 minutes
What’s it about?
Logan – the mutant once known as Wolverine – now spending his days caring for a frail Charles Xavier, is thrust into one last adventure as he travels across North America in search of a place of safety for the mysterious young mutant named Laura…
Seventeen years after making his debut as the iconic Marvel Comics character Wolverine in Bryan Singer’s X-Men, Hugh Jackman delivers a career-high performance in his much touted final appearance as the adamantium-clawed hero.
Taking place in 2029, at a time when there are very few mutants left, Logan (based loosely on the “Old Man Logan” comic books by Mark Millar and Steve McNiven) sees the man once known as ‘the Wolverine’ in a dark place in ever darker times. His mutant healing abilities diminishing, Logan now goes by the name of James Howlett scraping together a living as a limo driver to pay for medication to subdue the increasingly uncontrollable mental powers of an elderly Charles Xavier. Heavily burdened and wearier than he’s ever been and turning to alcohol to numb pains both physical and emotional, Logan seems to have no purpose until he meets a young girl named Laura who he discovers has abilities much like his own. With Laura being tracked by a team of mutant hunters (lead by Boyd Holbrook’s Donald Pierce), it’s not long before the trio of Logan, Xavier and Laura hit the road in search of safety.
Written and Directed by James Mangold – who also tackled Jackman’s previous solo outing in The Wolverine – Logan is an atypical breed of a superhero film, of course it has the comic book/science fiction elements that come with the territory, but it largely plays out as an intimate, quite often brutal character drama and a journey that’s both thrilling and sombre as it evokes nifty vibes of the classic western and Mad Max.
Whilst not being overly concerned about continuity, there are still hints and references to Logan’s overall placing in the X-Men film universe without becoming burdened by it, the history of the X-Men themselves almost mythologised in the pages of dusty old comic books. It’s a standalone story that anyone can enjoy but all the more effective and satisfying for those who have followed the screen exploits of Messrs Jackman and Stewart all of these years.
Jackman excels in the lead role that has defined his career, delivering his gruff and grizzly best with more than a few shades of melancholia. Equally impressive is Patrick Stewart who relishes in providing a deeper and more complex portrayal of Charles Xavier than we’ve ever seen that’s as crushingly tragic as it is at times outright funny. As Laura, Dafne Keen makes a strong and memorable screen debut, playing an important part in making the growing bond between Logan and the young mutant one of the film’s clearest highlights.
Rounding out the already commendable cast is Boyd Holbrook as the appropriately snarly Pierce, British comedian Stephen Merchant, in a surprisingly enjoyable turn as Caliban, Logan and Xavier’s quirky mutant companion and a sorely underused Richard E. Grant as villainous scientist Dr. Zander Rice.
Whilst Logan doesn’t feature the elaborate CGI spectacle and destruction we see in the main X-Men film series it’s certainly not short of action and given the film’s adult rating (15 certificate here in the UK, R-rated in the States) we get to see Wolvie fully unleashed in no holds-barred, Berseker Rage fuelled combat. It’s unapologetically brutal, shockingly visceral and it’s what all Wolverine fans have wanted to see for a long time.
Logan does at times feel a little too slow and drawn out, yet just about manages to not completely drag and is made up for by the strong performances of the central cast and it’s moments of cutting, blood-soaked action. In the end, Logan comes out as a satisfying finale that aptly closes out to the gravely, aged tones of the late Johnny Cash.
The bottom line: Hugh Jackman bows out in a fittingly dramatic and brutal finale to his tenure as the iconic Wolverine in a film that binds fine performances with well-drawn character drama.
Logan is in cinemas now.