When the official trailer was published on Oct. 20 2016, after the first 3 notes of Johnny Cash’s “Hurt“played, I knew that we were in for something much different from what the last 17 years of X-Men movies have brought us.
Unlike the action-packed adventures of the major films in the rest of series, Director James Mangold’s “Logan” is a strongly character driven story that draws its influences from the 2008 comic, “Old Man Logan“, while still managing to carve out its own narrative that fits perfectly into Twentieth Century Fox’s established X-Men Universe (albeit as a result of wonky distribution rights with Disney).
Shades of classic westerns including the directly referenced “Shane” (1953) help in establishing the film’s setpiece as a part of the “New Old West,” while the “Badass Grandpa and Child Duo” trope are reminiscent of recent post-apocalyptic stories, “The Last of Us” (2013) and “The Road” (2006).
And unlike the previous 2 Wolverine films, “Logan” was a damn good movie from start to finish.
James “Logan” Howlett (Hugh Jackman) is a worn down and vulnerable man. At 197 years old, we see not only the physical trauma that his body has gone through over the years as his healing factor becomes less and less effective, but also the mental trauma of outliving just about everyone he’s ever cared about. There are no more mutants, no more X-Men, no more worldly threats. And for Logan, there’s quite frankly no more point in living.
He drives loud, obnoxious clients around in a limousine by day to take care of the now senile Charles Xavier played by Sir Patrick Stewart, who delivers his funnest performance as said character to date.
All of this goes away when Logan is contacted by a woman for a single job: Escort a little girl (Dafne Keen) to a place called Eden. We soon find that this little girl, Laura, is very much like Logan.
And there’s a true sense of character development as Logan embarks on this journey with Laura and Xavier and he discovers a part of himself that he never thought he could have.
The story stands on its own without relying on the other films. On the whole, the story is inconsequential to the massive X-Men universe that Fox has created. But paradoxically, it’s this feeling of insignificance that makes Logan’s final story much more personal and in a way, much more consequential to the viewer.
The R Rating
Hugh Jackman took a pay cut to ensure that film would receive an R rating, and by God did it pay off. The massive success of “Deadpool” had without a doubt, played a role in convincing film executives that it could be done. But unlike the spectacular display of senseless violence that goes along with Wade Wilson, the much more grounded set piece of “Logan” creates a moody and dim atmosphere that Logan himself exudes.
Looking back now, it almost seems like a given that a Wolverine movie should’ve been allowed the creative freedom tackle more mature elements.
Not once did some of the more “R rated” elements feel out of place, especially when a drugged out and demented Charles Xavier dropped about three “fucks” in the span of 10 seconds during one scene.
“Logan” is a spectacular end to a spectacular character played by a spectacular actor. Its grounded, dark and edgy superhero theme reminiscent of “The Dark Knight” (2008) is something that other superhero films should look to when attempting to replicate (looking at you, “Batman v Superman“).
Comic book fans and nerds with even a slight passing interest in the X-Men cinematic universe should go watch “Logan” as knowledge of the previous movies’ events is hardly needed to enjoy this film (especially after they’ve been wiped from the timeline in “Days of Future Past“). “Logan” is more so the story of a man seeking purpose and redemption set in the backdrop of a superhero universe than it is a “true superhero film”.