Hot Take: It won’t be the best of 2017 but it’s the best of 2017 so far. A fitting tribute to the end of Hugh Jackman’s run as Wolverine… if it’s the end, of course.
While the X-Men tales aren’t necessarily part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the films featuring the mutants of X-Men have been mostly good. Surprisingly, the weakest offerings have been the standalone Wolverine movies despite Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine being one of the most interesting characters of the ensemble features. X-Men Origins: Wolverine is practically unwatchable and 2013’s The Wolverine was an improvement but overstayed its welcome on screen and, by the end, became just another superhero flick.
From the moment the trailer for Logan dropped, though, you could tell this film was something altogether different than the previous films. There was also that pesky R rating that Wolverine fans have been clamoring for to allow Wolverine to be truly unleashed with the unabashed violence of the comics of the same name. Considering Hugh Jackman has vowed this is the last time we’ll see him on the big screen as the character he’s played since 2000 (much to the chagrin of those of us who’d like to see him on screen with the version of Deadpool that starred in last year’s breakout hit and not the ridiculous version we were treated to in the previously mentioned unwatchable X-Men Origins: Wolverine film), Logan set the bar extremely high.
Well, the potential final appearance of Jackman as James “Logan” Howlett, also known as The Wolverine, was a cinematic success. Logan is not your typical superhero film but a legitimate film with emotional heft and grit. Jackman delivers a heartfelt performance and if you subtract a handful of wonderfully crafted action set pieces, the film is barely a superhero film at all. Director James Mangold delivers a tightly wound multi-faceted film that is part modern Western and part drama with a sprinkling of enough of the superhero lore that keeps the moniker in tact.
If you want to compare the film to another superhero film, you’d have to reach across the aisle and tap Christopher Nolan’s Batman films for a fair comparison. There’s a level of humanity to the film that Jackman’s Logan is essential to (it helps to play a character for 17 years, I’m sure) that puts the movie over the top and makes it one of the best plots we’ve been treated to in a superhero film in some time. Jackman isn’t alone in his efforts, either. Patrick Stewart is excellent in his reprisal of Charles Xavier. Newcomer Dafne Keen is also strong in her performance as Laura, the young mutant who Logan reluctantly protects from the company that made him into what he was. Laura was created with Logan’s DNA which essentially makes for some interesting Daddy/Daughter screen time especially with some of the more gruesome fight scenes the film has to offer.
While the film references the western Shane, Logan occasionally reminded me of Unforgiven with Jackman’s Logan being dragged back into one more claw-wielding clash with some bad people who continue to try and weaponize mutants for greed and power. If this truly is the end for Jackman, it’s unlikely the end for Wolverine on screen as cinematic superheroes consistently find the reboot button. This last effort, though, leaves some pretty big shoes (and claws) to fill and will very unlikely be topped. In a world where sequels generally degrade, it’s great to see Logan save the best for last. It’s an emotional ride until the end and credit Mangold and the team behind Logan for making a relevant and evocative film that’s more than just a standard superhero flick. Logan is the first must-see film of 2017 and that applies to those who aren’t usually fans of superhero films since Logan isn’t necessarily a superhero film outside of its subject matter.
“Spoiler Free” Pros
- Jackman as Logan
Of all of Jackman’s performances as this character, the final chapter provides him with the best opportunity to shine and shine he does as the emotionally damaged, earnest and bad-ass character you’d expect to see. His performance alone is worth the price of admission.
- That Deadpool Preview
The film opens with a teaser trailer for the next Deadpool. It’s hilarious and I’m already overly excited for the next installment in the Deadpool series.
Laura is X-23 and could definitely make for an interesting spin-off if there’s a desire to continue the tale beyond Logan.