The Logan / Wolverine spin off films are a bit of an oddity for me. X Men Origins was a bit weak, while The Wolverine was serviceable but ultimately forgettable fare.
LOGAN is that rare comic book film beast – dark, mature, violent and a thrill from opening second to closing moment.
With Hugh Jackman claiming it to be his last venture and Patrick Stewart looking to do the same, there’s a lot of urgency to the film right off the bat. For one, I was in a frame of mind of wondering how storylines would play out, especially given the setting and time shift that Days of Future Past has brought about.
But LOGAN is set in 2029, when something has wiped out the X-Men and dwindled the mutant population to extinction.
Logan hides out in a dingy safe house in Mexico, caring for an ailing Charles Xavier with the aid of fellow mutant Caliban (Stephen Merchant, in a wonderful and strange turn)
As fate would have it, Logan crosses paths with a little girl – and mercenaries after said girl – and the mystery begins as he gets entangled in one last adventure.
From the get-go, Director James Mangold let’s the audience know you’re in mature territory that’s most unlike previous films in the series. The first word uttered by Logan is ‘Fuck’, while the flinching violence kicks in a minute later, leading to limbs flying.
Yup, the claws go through skulls, mauls out eyes – no limb is left untouched in this bloody affair. But the violence, while over the top, ever reaches gratuitous levels. It serves a point in this here violent world of Logan. He doesn’t want to fight but the fight comes to him.
Performances are pitch perfect across the board. Jackman nails the idea of a man at the end of his tether, while Stewart brings out this bare vulnerability to Xavier, something we’ve never seen before with the character. And it’s jarring but so rich and full of pain and warmth and heart.
Dafne Keen, the mysterious little girl, turns in a performance that’s something else. Her face, at her age, portrays considerable range, elevating her high enough to go toe to toe with Jackman’s performance.
Watching these two play off of each other is a sheer joy, because there’s so much at work between them in the scene, whether it be Logan’s pain or her disquieting anger.
Richard E. Grant is in this as well, portraying a slimy and mysterious character, whose motivations play out across the story in surprising ways. I must say, he nails the skin crawling aspect. Sheesh.
Any way you slice it, LOGAN is a tremendously entertaining stand alone story while acting as an emotional send off to Jackman and his iteration of the character.
The heart of the story is messy and raw, the violence wonderfully staged, flinching and brutal, and the storyline is something of a chase film merged with a road trip but with a grand scale.
J’s Verdict: ☆☆☆☆