Back in 2000, the original x-men was the first step back to legitimacy for super hero films, removing the campiness that long plagued the genre. A big part of that was thanks to Hugh Jackman, who’s leading man performance helped humanize Wolverine, a character many fans considered one note. After 17 years, Jackman is finally saying goodbye to his most popular role in Logan, bringing with it the violence and tragedy that often accompany the best Wolverine tales. Though an aggressively sad and brutal tale, it also pays off for new and old fans alike thanks to fantastic performances, stellar action, and an apporpriately heartfelt sendoff for the man who’s the best at what he does, even if it isn’t very nice.
Much of Logan’s best elements come thanks to the films hard R rating, seeing as most of wolverines best stories are bloody, more somber tales when compared to his comic book contemparies. Unlike the comedic levels of violence found in last years’ Deadpool, Logan delivers a realistic, haunting kind of brutality that you really think is the kind thing a man with Knives for hands is capable of. At no point in the film does it try and show this in a more enjoyable/fun light either, keeping a consistently somber tone throughout that keeps the bloodshed shocking and prevents the fatigue that befalls similar films. And while the action usually comes down to copious amounts of stabbings, the set/ups for each scene add enough to differentiate between each other and keep the action exhilarating.
The R rating is rightly reflected in the films tone as well, with the film often tackling serious issues the characters face in their broken state like alcoholism, hopelessness and even suicide. Logans body is slowly dying, and every shot he takes and hit he endures hurts that much more to watch. Even beacons of hope from previous films like Professor X (Patric Stewart) are dragged down to their lowest points, and watching these figures that have insupired many over 17 years only serves to further illustrate the sense of hopelessness that persists through most of the film. It’s a risky move on director James Manigold’s part, and one that he thankfully never holds back from, taking what could have been another super hero film and instead creating a thoughtful, if at times pesemistic, look at the purpose and place of characters like Wolverine in the real world.
The breakout star for many is likely to be Dafne Keen as X-23, a murderous child trying to understand what it means to be more then a weapon. Most of the dramatic moments in the film hinge upon her performance, and she never faulters to keep up with veterans like Jackman and Stewart. Her fight scenes are likely to disturb some viewers, as her character doesn’t shy away from much of the violence either, and it never tries to make scenes of an 8 year old slaughtering soldiers come off as anything more then disturbing. In an age where child actors are hard to come by, that Keen can do so much through her visual performance alone is commendable, and she’s certainly someone to keep an eye out for in the coming years.
Yet, even with so much to Praise, Logan is at its best thanks to the phenomenal work put in Hugh Jackman and Patrick Stewart. Jackman takes his role of Logan to dark places the previous film never allowed him, and his performance shines throughout. While previous portrayals of Wolverine were more likely to wisecrack then they were to have an emotional moment, Logan‘s version is a tired, broken man, trying his best to not just give up under the weight of the tragedy that is his life. It’s hard to not empathize and feel sorry for him, even if this is your first time seeing this character, and Jackman does incredible work that outshines even his best work in previous x-men films. Likewise, Stewart’s Xavier is a heartbreakingly lost interpretation of Proffesor X, trying to remain a teacher and inspiring figure to those around him, while also trying to keep losing all sense of self. As far as exits for characters go, Logan is as respectful and beautifully done as they come, and Fox would be foolish to try and return to these characters any time soon.
Logan isn’t for everyone. It’s dark, violent and never tries to be enjoyable for the audience. But what it lacks in mass appeal, it more then makes up for in maturity, delivering a film that is willing to go to depressing and tragic places in service of great characters, an emotional story, and realistically-handled violence. whether you attatch it to existing source material, or enjoy it as a stand alone piece, Logan is the best X-Men film to date, and is likely to stick with you long after the final “Bub” is said.
Arbitrary Numerical Rating: 9.5 Fucking Bubs out of 10