LOGAN, directed by James Mangold, is loosely based on the Old Man Logan comic book story and is, if we’re to believe what we’re told, the swan song for both Hugh Jackman and Patrick Stewart in their roles as Logan and Charles Xavier respectively.
It’s the year 2029 and all but a few mutants are extinct. Logan (Jackman) is older and losing his healing factor and Charles (Stewart) is even older, living with dementia and struggling to control his incredible powers. Living in exile, Logan and Charles come across a young mutant, Laura (Dafne Keen), and become involved in protecting her from parties that don’t have her best interests at heart.
People may point to Deadpool being the reason that this film was given the green light to go R rated. Proof that an R rated comic book film can be successful. But I think the more important lesson form Deapool was to give creative freedom to the creators. Too often these days do films feel like money-churning exercises but Logan is an exception. This is the film it was always supposed to be. This is the film we deserve.
Speaking of its R rating (or 15 in sterling), this film is brutal. It’s bloody and violent and has a lot of fucks. It’s pretty much everything we’ve wanted from Wolverine since his first appearance. But it’s not frivolous or violence for the sake of violence. It’s not Deadpool. Its brutality only adds to the realism.
This film achieves things that comic book films rarely do. At the time of writing, I believe this to be the best comic book film since The Dark Knight. A bold claim I know, but let me explain why. This film strives beyond anything Marvel and DC have even dreamt about. Marvel are generally considered the masters of the comic book film, and they are – we gave Civil War a pretty great review. However, they rarely risk much in their films. The peril always feels at arm’s length. The conflict is always temporary. Our heroes will come out unscathed at the end. But with Logan Mangold, Jackman et al set a new standard for comic book films. How does it achieve this? By taking risks and building real relationships. The stakes have never been so high in a comic book film.
It also benefits hugely from being a contained story, focused on the characters in it, only concerned with telling the story it’s there to tell. And because of this, we can explore the characters and relationships in ways that I don’t feel has been done in any other comic book film. It’s such a simple plot. No convoluted twists or sequel set ups. It doesn’t have to be complex. It’s not about the story, it’s about the relationships. It’s not concerned with massive CGI set pieces, instead going for brutally realistic hand to hand combat that just adds to the drama and realism. It’s so grounded and all the better for it.
Jackman has never been better as Logan. Maybe he’s never been better full-stop. He’s always been probably the strongest asset of the X-Men franchise, despite two pretty poor standalone films. That speaks volumes of the guy’s importance in this universe. Here he gets to explore the character like never before, this time as a father figure. His relationship with Laura is moving and tragic and it adds an emotional weight to film that’s been lacking from the X-Men franchise and dare I say, comic book films in general.
Similarly, Stewart is at his best playing a damaged Xavier at the end of his life and not in control of his powers. He plays the role brilliantly with vulnerability and guilt yet with hope and optimism. His relationship with Logan is something that’s only hinted at in previous films but here, it’s given the time it deserves.
It’s a story of family with Logan stuck in the middle looking after his father figure, Charles, while reluctantly caring for Laura as her father figure. Dafne Keen is a revelation as Laura. Her relationship with Charles and Logan is the heartbeat of the story. She’s the catalyst that gives both characters a worthy send off.
MASTERPIECE. What a way to go.