Hugh Jackman gives us a performance reminiscent of Clint Eastwood in ‘Unforgiven’, which alongside Darren Aronofsky’s ‘The Wrestler’ and George Stevens’ ‘Shane’ was a big influence for director James Mangold’s take on the ageing Wolverine. Despite the obvious nods to films that involve a once heroic character damaged and out of sync with the way the world has become, ‘Logan’ still manages to display originality and is certainly one of the most unique superhero films I’ve ever seen.
When we are introduced to Logan he is working as a limo driver to pay for the 90-year-old Professor X’s medication, as it is revealed within the first 10 minutes that ironically the world’s most dangerous mind is suffering from a degenerative brain disease. The threat that this poses to the world is catastrophic as Xavier’s seizures cause those for miles around to suffer horrendously as well, a seemingly recurring ordeal that plagues the fragile professor with guilt for those he has hurt in the past unawares.
Logan himself is in no way the shape he once was, years of having an Adamantium coated skeleton has negatively affected him like a cancer, causing him to heal slower and brought on what can only be described as arthritis of the metal enhanced claw. The audience is immediately thrown into this bleak and grim world that looks nothing like the happy one Wolverine woke up to in Days of Future Past. Everything is either shadowy or desolate and when a character gets “hurt” by Wolverine, they really get hurt. Thanks to the more mature rating we no longer have to imagine the damage Logan is causing when he thrashes his claws through someone’s chest, we witness it.
Given that it has a 15 rating, there’s a lot of swearing, which is fine when used appropriately like with Logan, but hearing Patrick Stewart say the F word at least 5 times on the one page just seems jarring, however they use the ever popular “R” rating well in areas we expect from a movie about one of the most aggressive and often feral characters in Marvel comics. We see some pretty intense violence, not in a Tarantino way with galleons of blood spurting unnaturally from a paper cut, but in a way that makes you think to yourself “yep that’s probably exactly what it would look like if wolverine clawed someone in the head”.
Quite a few people have asked me “is it better than Deadpool?” and when I say yes I am generally scoffed at and dismissed, but let me explain. ‘Logan’ and ‘Deadpool’ are Marvel characters yes, but as films they are not in the same genre. The former is a sci-fi drama and the latter is a comedy. ‘Deadpool’ is of course hilarious, but stripped of its jokes it really has a pretty terrible plot, even though it satirises superhero film tropes it ultimately falls into the exact same format it’s trying to mock, which isn’t a way of being “ultra meta” it’s just lazy screenwriting. Don’t get me wrong I like ‘Deadpool’ and I re-watch it at least every couple of months, but not for the gripping story, I watch it to laugh. ‘Logan’ is a different beast entirely. Besides maybe one minor plot point I wasn’t totally in love with the script is pretty tight. The story is simple but executed well. Like I said before it has elements of Unforgiven, Shane and The Wrestler but it also has a very similar tone to a DC story; the now classic Frank Miller Batman comic ‘The Dark Knight Returns’. Both have an ageing superhero forced back into the violent ways they’ve been trying to keep buried for years and both have a very mature plot. To compare these stories further may verge into spoiler territory so I’ll leave it at that for now.
One thing I must stress is that this is not a kid’s film, something that a lot of parents don’t seem to realise. A warning now to any parents reading; this is NOT like when you took your 5-year-old to see Civil War and they were amazed by all the colours of way too many superheroes crammed into one frame, if you take your child to Logan they will undoubtedly be bored by the dialogue that they are nowhere near mature enough to comprehend and will most certainly be too young to see the violence that takes place frequently throughout the second and third act.
All performances are excellent, Hugh Jackman and Patrick Stewart give the best portrayals of their characters since the first time they were on the set of X-Men way back in 2000. Stephen Merchant was perhaps the most unexpected good performance, which makes me feel like a traitor to my own tastes for saying because I greatly admire the BAFTA winning writer, director and actor, though I suppose I expected him to be some kind of wacky comic relief character when I heard he was cast a few months back but I was immediately proved wrong. 12-year-old Dafne Keen was a brilliant on screen presence as the wolverine-like mutant Laura, she pulls off a performance that balances the unsure nature and inquisitive mind of a child with the all-out fury of a mutant killing machine.
I can’t recommend ‘Logan’ enough, it is definitely worth the cinema trip although just to reiterate (as if I haven’t enough already) this is a dark and at times incredibly depressing film but at the same time it’s brilliant and beautiful and I personally think it’s the pinnacle of what superhero films will achieve in terms of a truly unique piece of cinema. As much as it would be nice to be proven wrong, tenner says I’m right.