Director: James Mangold
Actors: Hugh Jackman, Patrick Stewart
Running Time: 135 mins
Release Date: 3rd March 2017
“How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard” Winnie the Pooh
With Hugh Jackman playing Wolverine for the ninth and final time you would be forgiven for thinking the studio would want their most popular X-Men character to go all out in a blaze of high-octane set pieces, cities being destroyed and fan friendly team-ups.
Instead, they have gone the complete opposite direction and made perhaps the most sombre and pensive comic book movie we have ever seen. It’s also arguably the best X-Men film they have made.
Make no mistake, this film will change the genre every bit as much as Nolan’s Batman. Much like every superhero film in its wake needed to be “dark and realistic” Logan has shown that you don’t need a third act CGI fest to sell a movie. This is a film about character not spectacle with Jackman finally allowed to give the performance his passion for the character deserves, conveying Wolverine’s rage as much with his eyes and shaky hands as he did previously with his claws.
Logan shatters the myth of comic book movies being their own self-contained genre as this film has more in common with the likes of Unforgiven and Shane (which it directly references) than Iron Man or Deadpool; speaking of the Merc with a Mouth, Deadpool’s massive box-office showed there was an appetite for a more adult-themed superhero movie.
However that movie was still very much coloured within the margins of the genre with big set pieces, fan service quips and, yes, a third act Helicarrier crash. Here, the movie’s best moment is arguably a scene with the unlikely trio sitting down to a quiet family dinner.
That said, when the action does come it doesn’t disappoint.
With the gloves off thanks to its 18 rating, the beast is allowed to go full berserker in ways we have only seen a glimpse of previously. Joining him is a frighteningly feral young mutant named Laura, played by the astonishingly talented newcomer Dafne Keen, who is every bit as vicious as her reluctant guardian and conveys more with her eyes in the first half of this movie than some actors do in their whole careers.
Patrick Stewart’s Charles Xavier now has to face his brain betraying him as much as his body, and at times it’s difficult to watch a character you have spent the last 17 years with deteriorating before your eyes.
The film’s one weakness is its villains are never fully formed past being an evil doctor (Richard E. Grant), and his muscle (Narcos Boyd Holbrook) and their Dr Frankenstein creation draws too much of a comparison with the awful X-Men Origins to have a bigger impact. This would be nit-picking on what is one of not just a great comic book movie, but a great movie.
If this is to be Jackman’s swansong as the character he has become synonymous with, (it’s crazy to remember he wasn’t the first choice with Dougray Scott was initially cast until re-shoots on Mission: Impossible 2 forced him to drop out) he couldn’t have hoped for a better send off.
Much like he did when he was part of the first big superhero team-up, Jackman is now part of the reinvention of the genre for a second time by delivering a serious, thought-provoking film that will be the standard bearer for all imitations that come in its wake.
4 out of 5 nerds