17 years. 7 appearances. 2 cameos. 1 defining actor. Hugh Jackman defied the odds of playing the stocky, feral Canadian mutant by being a hunky, Australian man. Yet, Jackman made the character his own. All good things must come to an end though.
‘Logan’ is set in a non-descript alternate, future post the ending of ‘Days of Future Past’ (2014). Mutants are all but extinct and Logan (Jackman) cares for an ailing, Professor Charles Xavier (Stewart) in the barren Mexico desert. The pair wait to whittle away, before Laura (Keen) enters their lives, a young, mysterious girl with a connection to Logan. And mercenaries called Reavers hunting her down.
Like ‘Deadpool’, ‘Logan’ utilises its R-Rating; but instead of shoving sophomoric humour and gratuitous violence in your face, ‘Logan’ feels more mature. Like ‘The Dark Knight’ before it, ‘Logan’ takes itself serious, without entering Snyder-esque levels of brood. It may not reinvent the genre, but it provides a fresh spin; that feels more neo-Western than Superhero.
Since his introduction on screen, fans have wanted to see the animal within Wolverine unleashed, and here it is; in all its gory glory. Within the first 5 minutes, the audience knows that this Logan is more bitter and jaded and feral than before, as he swears while separating limb from man. This world is weary and old; like its protagonists.
The performances of Stewart and Jackman are perfectly nuanced and reach beyond any comic book performance, rivalling that of Ledger’s Joker. These are men that have seen the worst of the world and lost so much together, waiting for deaths cold embrace. Their relationship has evolved from teacher-student, to father-and-son, providing for many humorous interactions. Enter Dafne Keen’s Laura, a wild ball of ferocity that is the first sign of light in their world, who acts far beyond her age. Watch out for this girl; in more way than one. When the claws pop out, it is a ballet of blood.
Credit is due to Mangold (and Jackman, in part), for taking the time to refine his script and standing defiant to studio pressures that others (Whedon, Ayer) have succumbed to. With 17 years, and a tragic character, there comes huge baggage which is conveyed through the broken and rugged Jackman’s performance. No words need be spoken.
That’s not to say there aren’t some drawn out moments. It is a slow burn to reach the bloody, road trip promised, but with repeat viewings it moves along faster. The numerous villains are never truly defined or memorable, but they each bring a unique element to the narrative and themes. However, in a film like this, it feels necessary to focus on the hero.
Like ‘The Dark Knight’ before it, ‘Logan’ subverts the genre and offers a breath of fresh air into a genre that is showing signs of floundering. It’s bloody, raw, emotional and memorable.