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LOGAN Finally Gives Wolverine His Due (Review)

LOGAN Finally Gives Wolverine His Due (Review)

Hugh Jackman has been playing Wolverine/Logan/Weapon X/whatever you want to call him since 2000’s X-Men made him a star. In that time he’s appeared in nine films, which is more times than anyone has ever played James Bond, Jason Bourne, or Gandalf. And yet, up until now, of the films in which Logan has been a major character, I’d say maybe two and a half of those were thoroughly good movies. But this year, as Jackman takes his final bow as the character in the movie Logan, he gives us the best he’s ever done.

I was cautiously optimistic coming into Logan; I had liked about 65% of director James Mangold‘s previous X-flick, The Wolverine, but the trailers and premise for this one seemed to be solid. As a longtime fan of X-Men and Wolverine specifically, I truly just wanted Jackman to go out with his head held high. What I wasn’t expecting was a brutal yet heartfelt treatise on legacy, myth, family, remorse, and redemption, focusing on characters more than powers (though there’s plenty of those) and rendering a sad but triumphant modern Western.

For the uninitiated, Logan is based loosely on Mark Millar‘s 2008 miniseries “Old Man Logan,” set many years in the future. In this film, mutants have been slowly dying away; no new ones are born, and only a few of the old guard remain. Among these are Logan, now working as a limo driver in the Southwest, while he keeps a nonagenarian Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart) medicated in Mexico with the help of Caliban (Stephen Merchant), a light-sensitive mutant who can sense and track other mutants. All Logan wants to do is scrape together enough money to buy a boat so he and Charles can live out their days at sea. That is not to be, however.

Charles begins communicating telepathically with a young girl and suspected new mutant Laura (Dafne Keen), whose mother (Elizabeth Rodriguez) begs Logan–whom they recognize from his legacy as a famous X-Man, of course–to take them to the Canadian border and safety. Complicating matters are the Reavers, mutant hunters who work for a shady scientific research facility on the prowl for the girl. Led by the metal-handed, cajun-accented Pierce (Boyd Holbrook), these Reavers are heavily armed. Logan wants nothing to do with this whole situation, but Charles slowly persuades him and a south-to-north chase ensues.

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What I truly applaud this movie for doing is keeping the story simple. It’s a road movie, it’s a bickering buddy movie, it’s a man trying to run away from his past movie, but what it’s not is an overcomplicated sci-fi head trip involving ancient deities or time travel or even a battle between mutants of different ideologies. Logan and Charles want to help a little girl, and they’re being chased by bad guys. The. End. Mangold never over-explains anything, and quite a few things about what happened to the rest of the X-Men and how the two aging friends came to be where they are are merely hinted at, left for us to put together ourselves. Did all of the past adventures we’ve seen on screen actually happen? We don’t know, but it ultimately doesn’t matter.

This movie, following in the footsteps of last year’s Deadpool, is a hard R with tons of swearing, bloody violence, and even some brief nudity for good measure. Unlike Deadpool, though, Logan doesn’t pull out these tricks for laughs or shock. While it’s certainly a jolt to hear Logan (and Charles, hilariously) spout sh*ts and f*cks, that wears off. These are angry, tired men who are kind of over it. Logan is also intensely brutal in its violence, the way fans of Wolverine in the comics knows he can be, without having to water it down for PG-13 audiences. There’s pain every time Logan unsheathes his claws, and his ancient body shows its years in scars, wheezes, and limps.

Logan Trailer

While the movie feels like it drags a little at the end of the second act, it otherwise has a great, steady pace and allows for diversions and set pieces where we can explore character, see what a family looks like, and understand whether Logan is truly just a man or the myth he’s been set up to be. In Laura he sees a reflection of himself but also a chance for someone to be better than him.

Jackman, Stewart, Merchant, and Keen all deliver tremendous performances. Franchise mainstays Jackman and Stewart are especially good here, as you can tell they trust each other as actors and like each other as people. I was not expecting to get quite as much heartfelt self-reflection from the film’s second banana Xavier, but Stewart’s sad and fragile portrait of the character proves yet again what a brilliant talent he is and ever will be. Jackman has said he’s done playing Logan with this movie, and it is a fitting swan song, but if Stewart never plays Xavier again, this too would be a masterful final bow for the X-Men franchise’s second most iconic character.

I think fans of the comic will truly enjoy Logan, and even those who don’t–who maybe only have a cursory knowledge of the characters via media osmosis–will find a solid, gutsy action movie with more emotion than you’d get in a lot of blockbusters. This is honestly one of the best comic book movies of all time.

4.5 better-with-age burritos out of 5
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Images: 20th Century Fox


Kyle Anderson is the Associate Editor for Nerdist. You can find his film and TV reviews here. Follow him on Twitter!

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