For all the shit that they have put us through, 20th Century Fox have finally given us every comic book enthusiast’s dream: A successful R-rated Wolverine movie. Logan, the epic conclusion to Hugh Jackman’s run as the adamantium infused mutant, comes complete with gallons of blood, a couple hours of stomach-churning gore, a colorful curse-filled vocabulary, and a moving story about a seemingly indestructible man breaking down and coming to grips with death.
This movie walks the line between comic book action flick and gritty drama quite well, delivering jaw dropping stunt scenes alongside quiet reflections and touching dialogue. The relationships in this film, both old and new, are developed well. The dialogue is thankfully not simply speech bubble banter in between fights, like you might find in an actual X-Men book. The interactions between characters in the quiet moments of the film serve to flesh out their personalities and build an interesting, and quietly unsettling, world. It is the friction, and subsequent healing, between Logan and Xavier that adds tremendous emotional gravity to their eventual parting. It was Logan’s constant resistance towards caring about Laura and his fight to push everyone away the entire film – and his entire life – that added so much weight to his final sacrifice. It was Laura’s refusal to talk and inability to trust that made her tearful goodbye to Logan so heart-wrenching. This film is made decent by the plot, good from the action, but truly great because of the characters and their relationships.
This movie walks the line between comic book action flick and gritty drama quite well, delivering jaw dropping stunt scenes alongside quiet reflections and touching dialogue.
The film’s story is quite simple in nature: Laura is an escapee from a batch of child mutants that were created by a sect of the government. A batch of child mutants created for the express purpose of warfare. Led by main villain Donald Pierce, a private military group, the Reavers, track her down and kill anyone in their path to reclaim her. After meeting the woman who freed Laura, Logan must fulfill his promise to get her to Eden, a sanctuary for mutants where she will be safe from the Reavers.
This overarching plot produces a charming villain in Pierce, and a plethora of heart pounding, blood pumping fight and chase sequences. It can be argued that having one less encounter, between the two parties, would have made each clash a bit more intense. However, there was enough variety in each scene to deny claims of repetitiveness. There were moments where it seemed that they were going to utilize the cringeworthy action movie trope of a rambling evil scientist giving away his plan before its completion, but the Dr. Rice Arc was actually resolved in a shocking and refreshing way that really brought the third act of the film together. In the end, Rice and X-24 were used sparsely enough to let Pierce shine as the main villain and for time itself to serve as a main antagonist.
The action scenes of Logan were on par, if not superior, to any scene from the past X-Men films, X-2 included. There was enough yelling, slashing, growling, leaping and stabbing, for the whole family. What sets this movie apart, however, is the depth developed within Logan and Professor Xavier’s characters, and the dysfunctional father-son relationship the Professor and black sheep student had. Logan’s body is breaking down from the inside, and Xavier’s battle to maintain control of his mind is bringing him, and those around him, closer to destruction. With death and deterioration creeping up on both characters, they reflect on their rocky pasts and attempt to mend old wounds while risking it all to give Laura the proper future she deserves. It’s hard to watch Logan carry the once proud, and stoic, Professor X to bed and tuck him in without your heartstrings not feeling a slight tug.
The inclusion of this older Xavier’s battle with mental deterioration and the consequences of his psychic seizures was an interesting and daring plotline to weave into this fairly straightforward cat-and-mouse action movie formula. This type of illness is rarely represented in comic book movies, or even movies period, and their effects are anything but glamorous. The illness was visually represented in an impressive and interesting fashion due to Xavier’s telepathic abilities, but there was still the problem of breaking down Professor X. As Patrick Stewart’s presumed final onscreen portrayal of Professor X, one one of the most esteemed and beloved characters in the franchise, it was a bold move to strip away his polish and nobility in favor of fear and helplessness brought on by this condition. Stewart’s stellar performance ensured that this risk paid off and made their race against time much more dire. It also reinforced the themes of mortality and deterioration that make up Logan’s world.
Apart from accurately representing mental deterioration, Charles’ condition has a direct influence on the development of Logan’s character. It brought Logan’s moral dilemma of protecting the public at the cost of reducing the once esteemed professor to a babbling, incoherent mess. This dilemma, and Charles’ own refusal to believe he was sick, pushed him far enough that he hid the fact that he wasn’t taking his medication. He claimed that it was to help Laura while scolding Logan for keeping him weak and delusional. His decision saved their lives, but also endangered the lives of thousands of people. The desperate measures that he took were morally gray with questionable motives. Such ambiguity is refreshing and fit well within the dark, mature tone of the film.
Charles’ condition added more to the tension between the two, but his weakness and reliance on Logan also brought them closer together. Xavier’s reflection on his own mortality broke down some of Wolverine’s walls, walls that he had been reinforcing for decades, and forced him to look himself in the mirror and come to grips with his own fate. He also, as the trailer suggests, forces Logan to slow down and take in every moment of normalcy that he can while he still has the chance. It’s because of his persistence that we finally get to see Logan stop pushing others away and become more human. It’s because of Xavier that Logan is able to let his guard down and love Laura enough to put her life before his.
Last but not least, the professor’s fate is significant because it serves as a goodbye to this version of the character. Patrick Stewart gives one last memorable performance as Professor Xavier, closing his own chapter in the X-Men series and reminding fans why he is one of the most beloved characters in the franchise. While he’s usually the voice of hope and guidance, Professor Xavier adds a great deal of depth and maturity to this dark, depressing story. His death holds gravity not only within the story, but within the hearts of the audience.
Patrick Stewart gives one last memorable performance as Professor Xavier, closing his own chapter in the X-Men series and reminding fans why he is one of the most beloved characters in the franchise.
Another one of the main standouts in this film was the performance of Dafne Keen and her portrayal of Laura/X-23. She spends the first half of the movie as a comically brooding mute pre-teen, relying solely on facial expressions and her adamantium claws to communicate. It was when she started speaking, however, that the movie really gained its second wind as a drama and adds a great deal of depth to her character, Logan, and their relationship. Laura is strong, smart, and passionate, but shows humanity and vulnerability as well. Both her strength and weaknesses allow us to see sides of The Wolverine that have never presented themselves in the past. She brought out his fear, his guilt, and his love. It was the building of their relationship that made Logan’s sacrifice meaningful and his death as touching and heartbreaking as it could’ve been.
She also makes such an impression on the viewer that it is reasonable to wonder how her own story will unfold and desire to see Keen return as Laura, and as The Wolverine. Though I wouldn’t change a single frame of Logan’s ending, I’m surprised to admit that I’m not against an X-23 standalone film. I think that Keen brings so much to the table that she could do the character further justice and produce an intriguing story in the process.
Overall, Logan pairs bloody, intense action moments with enough telling, and touching character development to produce a substantive and moving comic book story. Outside of a basic chase-fight-chase action storyline, Logan handles complex and mature themes like mortality and mental disease with care. Logan is undoubtably a fitting, and well deserved ending to Jackman’s career as The Wolverine.