LOGAN Review 2: LOGAN Proves Hugh Jackman Saved The Best Wolverine For Last
If you’re ever having a debate about the best superhero performance, you’re going to have to include Hugh Jackman as Wolverine from now on, even if you had been strictly holding the line for Heath Ledger’s Joker until you saw Logan.
James Mangold, who directed The Wolverine (the last attempt at making a standalone Wolverine movie “for the fans”), is back to direct Hugh Jackman as an older Logan in 2029 long after mutants have mostly been wiped off the face of the Earth. Jackman has said many times that Logan would be his final movie as the character, even back when it was just called Wolverine 3 and no one could believe Fox wanted to make it. Somehow, Mangold and Jackman wrested the character out of Fox’s general X-Men continuity and put him in his own story with it’s own stakes.
The way to save the X-Men movie universe, it appears, is to take it away from Bryan Singer and let it have an R-rating. Logan is not Deadpool, Logan is deadly serious. A meditation on life and death takes time, especially when the film also has to be a superhero action movie. A lot of F-bombs and there are a lot of claws-in-brains violence lubricate the gears that turn to serve both masters.
When we catch up with the character, he’s working as a limo driver in Texas. He’s working to save up to buy a boat for himself and Professor Xavier (Patrick Stewart), whom he has to keep hidden and drugged because of an unspecified degenerative disease. Professor X’s mind has been classified as a Weapon of Mass Destruction by the government, so his existence and his occasional psychic seizures must be kept secret. Helping Logan take care of the Professor is Caliban (Stephen Merchant) a mutant who helped an anti-mutant task force round up his kind in the past, but has now switched sides.
It’s obvious from very early on that Logan is very sick and old. The adamantium in his body is killing him and the conversations between him and the Professor suggest that they are both just waiting to die after failing everyone around them. Oblique references are made to an event in Westchester that left the two without X-Men an on the run. Then, a young girl who is a female clone of Logan shows up.
It’s easy to see why Logan was teased to fans and critics by showing off the first 40 minutes. With a runtime of 135 in total, the first 40 just set the stage for the character piece the movie ends up being. Mangold takes his time and Hugh Jackman’s performance makes the physical wear of that time on Logan apparent as the group of mutants head north to a sanctuary that Logan does not believe in.
The reason Logan doesn’t drag or feel like it’s patting itself on the back as it tells the final Wolverine story is because we’ve seen so many shades of Jackman’s Wolverine over the years that we can guess what Logan is remembering at any given point. When he looks at video of Laura (X-23, an amazing Dafne Keene) getting her adamantium grafting surgery, we can see from his reaction that he – like us! – is reliving his Origins. When there’s a samurai sword on the wall, we’re like: Hey! That’s from The Wolverine! When Logan mutters: “The Statue of Liberty was a long time ago,” the audience can echo that sentiment!
After a thrilling action sequence about 40 minutes in, the movie slows the pace to allow the dynamic between Professor Xavier, Logan, and Laura play out. They are being constantly pursued by the Reavers – mutant hunters with cybernetic enhancements – who are after Laura. Anytime they stop it can’t be for long, but – again – the point of the movie isn’t about some X-Men team being formed. You have no idea how nice it is to have an X-Men movie where a significant chunk of the film isn’t about training or getting the team together…until you see Logan.
Detractors from the movie are going to say it drags in the middle after dumping a bare-bones plot on us, but the point of Logan is to spend that time in middle America with these three characters who are on One Last Mission before two of them continue to wait for a slow and painful degenerative death. This is not a movie where we debate which side Magneto is on…finally.
Logan is going to end up being one of the best movies in the X-Men movie franchise because it’s more of a movie about the character than a movie about mutants or superheroes. You’ll see references to westerns, not towering beams of light ripping a dimensional portal above a city like we’re used to. Like, I thought I was over the movie Shane – finally! – but goddamnit, Logan, I’m not over Shane!
There’s no point in spoiling what happens at the end of Logan, I’m guessing you have a pretty good idea. There is a villain that I’ve purposefully not mentioned here, though you’ll see it coming if you’re paying attention in the first third of the film, and – no – Wolverine does not suit up in any yellow, brown, or other masked costume.
At first I was disappointed, but then I realized that it was comic book Wolverine that wore the mask, Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine…it took me nine years to realize…never did.
Both Wolverines are valid, both are great, even when the plots surrounding them weren’t.
So let us know what you think of our Logan Review 2.
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