In what seems like forever ago, the first “X-Men” film was released, and brought the real world with it. This wasn’t Gotham City with its man in a bat suit and his over-the-top villains or Superman trying to take down Richard Pryor. This was the grown up comic book movie, with the Holocaust, racism, and while it still had diabolical villains, there was real terror in their evil plans. Now here we are over 15 years later, with one of our characters from that first journey into real world of superheroes and he has aged as much as the actor who is playing Wolverine now for the 9th time. Hugh Jackman is…”Logan”.
In the not too distant future, Logan (Jackman) is just getting by as a limo driver. Who like a driver from an 80’s movie is saving up to buy a boat? But he is also caring for a now ailing Professor Xavier (Patrick Stewart) because he needs someone to sail off in the sunset with. But as with all reluctant heroes, Logan is pulled back into the world of mutants by a mysterious woman Gabriela (Elizabeth Rodriguez) who is protecting a young mutant, Laura (Dafne Keen) from a corporation with ties to the possible extinction of mutants. As the violence and the body count escalates, Logan is finally feeling the effects of age and the adamantium in his body as he does not heal like he used to. But he must decide whether to get involved and be the hero once again or just fade away into obscurity.
Right from the outset “Logan” flashes its rated “R” claws in a way to leave no doubt that this is not the leather-wearing hero that fought the on the Statue of Liberty against Sabertooth. This is a haggard, brutal, bad-ass killing machine with more than a few miles on it. Jackman who is pushing fifty, knows that his Wolverine days are numbered, and he and director James Mangold (3:10 to Yuma, The Wolverine) make the most of it here. Jackman has the look and gait of a worn down prize fighter, as he limps and gets winded through most of the film.
And while the plot is simple and not very developed, it really just turns into a road movie. They are not on a mad race running from the bad guys lead by Donald Pierce (Boyd Holbrook), but more of a casual drive with stops at casinos, and farm houses. Where is does excel is in its tone, which is more on the side of indie movie than big budget blockbuster. It feels nothing like a superhero movie, there are not huge CGI explosions, just quick moments of violence that have weight and consequence. There are no surprises, as you see familiar beats, but it manages to sell the moments with the fantastic performances by Jackman, Stewart, and the young Keen.
The best complement I can give this film is there is a sequence of scenes that are straight out of “X-Men Origins: Wolverine” (which in my opinion is the worst film of the “X” series) that are in this film and they are meant to evoke the same emotions only this time it completely earns it. It also may go on a tad too long, but I genuinely loved every minute spent with the Wolverine character in “Logan”. Plus if Jackman’s role is truly coming to its inevitable end, this is how you want to be remembered. Playing Wolverine the first time made him a star, but this performance will make him a legend.
–Robert L. Castillo