Creating a well-rounded comic book film doesn’t seem to be the easiest project to helm for filmmakers these days, considering the endless amount of material that they have to work with. Picking pieces of stories from this wide range of arcs can often cause one to lose focus and end up with a movie that’s all over the place, confusing everybody in the theater (looking at you Batman v Superman). It’s rare for filmmakers to find a vision and condense it into one coherent story that connects on all levels of the emotional roller coaster. Director James Mangold found a way to perfect this formula and the vision he shared with the world became known as one of the best films of the decade with Logan. Whether you’re a fanboy of the comic book genre or a casual filmgoer, this is the movie you can’t afford to miss. It is an outstanding and emotionally powerful experience to behold.
Taking influence from Mark Millar’s 2008 comic book series “Old Man Logan” (in which readers see a broken, battered Wolverine), Mangold develops an original Wolverine story of his own through Hugh Jackman. For the last 17 years, Jackman has owned this character and has earned the right to finally send the iconic hero off in all of his R-rated glory. Set in the distant future of 2029, mutants have pretty much become a dying breed of beings. While taking work as a Limousine driver, Logan takes refuge with an ailing Professor X (Patrick Stewart) until the unexpected arrival of a lethal young mutant hybrid, Laura (Dafne Keen), enters his life. Of course she doesn’t come without trouble, and from then on the three embark on a journey to escape the Transigen mercenaries, led by Donald Pierce (Boyd Holbrook), known as Reavers. They stop at nothing until Laura is “back home,” as she is one of Pierce’s “test subjects” who got away.
Boasting an emotion of power to match its brutal, awe-inspiring violence, it’s safe to say that Logan has solidified its spot as one of the best comic book films to ever hit the big screen. It’s a movie driven off of incredible performances from across the board. Reprising his iconic role as Charles Xaviar is Patrick Stewart and this is just as much his movie as it is Jackman’s. The two have been through hell and back over the years and Logan provides for their fitting end.
New to the X-Men movie universe is Dafne Keen who portrays Laura/X-23, and this kid ultimately becomes the heart of the entire movie. Although mute for the first two acts, her action are nothing less of silent, striking fear into anyone who dares to get in her way. The trials and tribulations that both Laura and Logan have endured up to this point in the film is what makes the violence all worth the wait. Every slice and kill is aimed towards those who have wronged them and it never gets to be too much. The brutality behind every severed limb is the fitting payoff for each setup. You’re invested into every plot detail and are on edge whenever heads start rolling. This is due to the brilliant writing and direction from writers Scott Frank, Michael Green and Mangold.
The great thing about Logan is that Mangold filmed this in a way that doesn’t make it feel like another dumb, fun action movie. Although there’s nothing wrong with dumb fun, it’s refreshing to see a filmmaker take risks with a genre that usually stays in its bubble. Logan is masterful in the sense that it gives off a vibe that is comparable to an independent, modern western (looking at you Hell or High Water). There just happens to be comic book characters in it (deeming it a comic book movie) but nevertheless, it’s much more than that. It’s rare for a blockbuster like this to feel so small-scaled, yet vast in depth. Don’t be surprised if this film is in heavy discussion during Oscars’ season.
Throughout the 17 years (equating to nine films) that Jackman has returned to the character of Wolverine, this final portrayal is what gives him his identity. This is the Wolverine that fans have been dying to see on the big screen and Jackman made sure that this final effort was his strongest. Logan as a character is more well-rounded this time around, feeding emotion that has yet to be seen in the past. He is usually seen as a barbaric killing machine and nothing more, but with Logan, he’s so much more. He is as violent and mercifulness as he is vulnerable. His fragilities are played with the same intense power as his superhuman abilities, and the payoff makes it all worth the watch.
A criticism of comic book films is that often the victims of violence have no emotional weight, resulting in a CGI fest that becomes nothing more than eye candy by the third act. Logan looks at that criticism and laughs. Mangold makes sure that the high-level impact of the violence is grounded and gritty, yet never over-the-top. Every kill has its purpose and the characters you see on the screen hold their own. You will laugh, you will cry, but most importantly, you will care. Logan is filmmaking at its finest and will be talked about until the end of time. Marvel Entertainment has met its Dark Knight.
Logan is now available on Blu-Ray, DVD and Digital HD.
FINAL SCORE: A+