Movie Review: "Logan"
- by Steve Garcia, 6 March 2017
All good things must come to an end. For seventeen years, Hugh Jackman has graced us with his portrayal as the X-Men’s Wolverine-- our favorite berserker rage, slicin’ dicin’, cigar smokin’ mutant Canuck with a heart of gold and the soul of a samurai. With a heavy heart, let’s review his swan song, the aptly named "Logan".
Fox’s X-Men franchise has been hit or miss with fans and critics across the board, with films featuring Wolverine usually placing towards the bottom in rankings. It’s of no fault to Jackman’s performance, however, rather that in a world that demands studios to release big budget superhero films to as wide an audience as possible, the character’s patented brutality, foul mouth, and alcoholism (among other things) have been routinely watered down to the point of blandness since Singer’s X-Men oh so long ago. Finally, after some help from last year’s success Deadpool, the highest grossing R-rated film in history, Jackman and director James Mangold fought the studio for a no holds barred finale of Wolverine’s story, blood, guts, and all. And boy, did they win.
Mangold’s storytelling restraint coupled with his complete understanding of the source material is what elevates what could have been an ordinary superhero film into what will be known as the gold standard of comic book adaptations. Logan is a western first, superhero movie second. Like all great westerns, each scene takes its time as we get to know our characters not by long-winded explanations and origin stories, but by their subtle actions and attitudes towards the world around them. Refreshingly quiet, the personal stakes made for a much more relatable protagonist, which hasn’t truly been done for the comic book genre since Nolan’s The Dark Knight. Not all superheroes want/need to save the world-- some just want to protect the lives closest to them and could very well die doing so.
Aside from its captivating narrative, however, the film could have easily fallen apart if it weren’t for its incredible cast, particularly the young newcomer Daphne Keen, who plays Laura, Logan’s daughter. Her constant transformation from innocence to ferocity was remarkably impressive, especially for her feature film debut. Jackman’s performance as Logan, a now broken survivor, completely sealed the deal, and when paired with Patrick Stewart’s final performance as a Charles Xavier stricken with dementia, Logan has potential to be in the conversation come awards season. In fact, I find it almost regrettable that it wasn’t released later in the year for that reason.
Logan was the result of passion and almost two decades worth of a caged animal whose only wish was to breathe in fresh air one last time before being put down. It has joined the ranks of The Dark Knight, in my mind, as one of the greatest comic book adaptations of all time. It was beautiful, earnest, and emotional-- the perfect sendoff brought to life by a director who truly understood and left his mark on the character while also creating something unique. While there were certainly a few missed opportunities in the story from a fan’s perspective, the things that could have been added did not take anything away from the end product. I almost hate Fox for waiting so long to deliver the Wolverine we've always wanted, only to see that beautiful beast Hugh Jackman go. But I suppose it’s better late than never.
Have you seen "Logan" yet? Do you want another actor to take on the role in the future, or is too early to even think about that at this point? Let us know in the comments!