Pushing the boundaries of superhero cinema, Logan is a bold and brutal film with claws as sharp as its hero.
Hugh Jackman’s final outing as Wolverine is a cut above any of the character’s stand-alone adventures. That goes without saying. That being said, trying to rank it alongside the wider expanse of X-Men material proves a difficult task. This is unlike any X-Men film before it, and indeed any comic book film.
Unlike Deadpool which earned its 15 certificate through swearing and comic violence, Logan takes a darker path. The violence isn’t something to laugh about. It’s shocking and horrific, making a story about a mutant with claws feel as real as its ever going to get. Unshackled from the constraints of appealing to a young audience, the tone also plunges into darkness. Beloved franchise favourites aren’t wisecracking heroes, they are flawed; physically and mentally at breaking point as the world crumbles around them.
Logan is definitely a case where the acting helps sell the story. Hugh Jackman’s performance is gritty and manages to unlock new things about the character he’s been playing on screen for near enough seventeen years. Patrick Stewart takes himself to a scary place, becoming much older and frailer than the actor who still comes across as sharp and sprightly in interviews. It’s Dafne Keen however that breathes new life into the franchise as a young mutant known as X23. At eleven years old, she grounds the film into having emotional stakes, while giving an excellent mainly physical performance and letting her actions speak for the character. Oh and Stephen Merchant pops up out of the blue for a bit of welcome comic relief.
Where the cracks begin to show, is in the story. The film keeps the central plot relatively thin, turning the film into a road-trip for much of its run-time. This is actually a smart move, allowing the drama to unfold through the character’s interactions as well as the inevitable action that follows. The plot that revolves around the villains of the film is relatively weak, and been done a million times before. Richard E. Grant for instance, is wasted as evil scientist Zander Rice. The film also falters in its resolution, quickly explaining problems away, but this is easy to overlook when we’re focusing on the emotional ramifications for our central characters.
In conclusion Logan should be appreciated for its sheer audacity in playing with a well established genre of cinema and doing something daring and brave. For the most part, it pays off spectacularly.