*Originally written February 28th, 2017*
"Don't be what they made you"
If there was any film likely to leave me in tears this year in the cinema, it was going to be Logan. Hugh Jackman's swansong to the X-Men franchise and to the character of Wolverine he'd been playing for 17 years. Logan is a character I've been watching since I was 4 years old back in 2000, so in many ways it felt like the end of my childhood.
Thankfully, Logan is a film that has matured with its audience that had been watching X-Men since their early years. It's a dark, miserable and depressing film and barely resembles a single superhero film of recent years. I'll also say seriously that this is the best superhero film since The Dark Knight, possibly even better.
This was a beautiful, powerful and violent send-off that worked far better than I ever possibly could have imagined. Hugh Jackman plays a far older, broken and worn down Wolverine whose healing powers don't work very well anymore and has to look after a dementia stricken Professor Xavier who is prone to dangerous psychological outbursts. Logan ends up reluctantly having to look after and take a clone of himself in the form of a young girl he has to take to sanctuary while being hunted by a military group.
Where Logan differs itself from other superhero films is its tone and content. While Deadpool was a violent and crude film, Logan is far more mature, resonate and powerful. This is not a kids film, not just due to the adult content, but the bleak and miserable tone throughout.
It's really sad to see these characters you grew up with in such a broken state. Logan is a borderline alcoholic reduced to being a limo driver, while Xavier is a shadow of his former self. It's heartbreaking stuff that works so well thanks to the incredible performances from Hugh Jackman and Patrick Stewart. They manage to mix superhero nonsense with genuine heart, warmth, tragedy and even comedy at times. It's all so bittersweet, but it works.
They're joined by a star making turn from Dafne Keen as 'Laura' a near mute clone of Logan who is on the run from a military group. While barely saying anything, Keen brings so much to the role, delivering a really touching father-daughter relationship Logan had been unable to have throughout his whole tragic life. What's even more impressive is the fact this is only Keen's second role in her entire career and she nearly stole the show from Hugh Jackman and Patrick Stewart. This is probably the best child performance I've seen since Chloe Grace Moretz in Kick-Ass.
The Office/Extras writer Stephen Merchant also gave a memorable turn as Caliban, a pale albino mutant who brings a lighter tone to some of Logan's more bleak outlook. He's essentially doing what he usually does, but with some makeup on. Anyway, it was nice to see him a huge blockbuster film for once. He earns it more than his co-writer Ricky Gervais. And now I just imagined an alternate universe where Gervais was in this too...
James Mangold takes on directorial duties as he did with the previous Wolverine outing 'The Wolverine' in 2013, which was a bit of a mess, but at least better than 2009's 'X-Men Origins: Wolverine'. Logan thankfully does not suffer from the same pitfalls as Mangold's last effort with the Wolverine character. Probably due to the fact he was allowed creative control to make a violent, R-rated send-off that lacks a bombastic CGI heavy finale.
All the action in Logan feels small and contained, but is brutal and hard-hitting at the same time. It was so satisfying to see Wolverine actually cut people up into gory messes. While extremely violent, it all works within the tone of the film. I wasn't a massive fan of the frequent swearing at the beginning of the film, but that soon wore off and they toned it down.
Mangold directs the action scenes with kinetic beauty, making use of both Wolverine and Laura in some visually beautiful action scenes. The cinematography of Logan feels closer to No Country for Old Men than it does a superhero film. Logan has the vibe of a neo-western and looks gorgeous, full of nice looking deserts and even a trip to Las Vegas.
Without spoiling anything, I'd honestly be okay if this was the ending to the X-Men series as a whole. It leaves things in such a powerful and perfect way that I was tearing up. While this is the end of Hugh Jackman's run as Wolverine, it also feels like the end point of the X-Men we all grew up with, and it managed to do it all perfectly.
Logan is a powerful, violent and beautiful send-off for Hugh Jackman's 17 year run as Logan. It's also one of the best superhero films of all-time and likely to be one of the best films of 2017. I really hope there's Oscar considerations for Logan for next years awards.
Logan is out July 10th in the UK on 4K UHD, Blu-ray and DVD
Watch the trailer below:
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