Without a doubt, Wolverine is the comic book character most synonymous with the term “badass.” Who didn’t love Wolverine when he debuted in X-Men all those years ago? Hugh Jackman and his command of the role are inseparable. We can’t imagine another Wolverine apart from Hugh Jackman. And yet, we must.
It’s 2029 in a world almost desiccated from any mutant activity. Logan is a drunk, driver-for-hire, trying to forget that he was ever a hero. The nonagenarian Charles Xavier is very ill in the middle of nowhere, suffering from seizures that cause havoc on his telekinetic skills. 2029 is a year foreign to the audience. In Logan, it feels modern but alien. Robotic augmentations don human beings and trucks going along the freeway are cab-less and driver-less. And no new mutant has emerged for more than a decade. Until young Laura comes along with Wolverine-like powers. Logan and Charles have to save her from a shadowy organization threatening to put her down.
Logan is the emotionally-charged Wolverine film that Jackman always deserved. Ironically, it doesn’t even star Wolverine. Jackman is cast as Logan just as how Patrick Stewart is Charles, not Professor X. Logan transcends the comic book genre by telling a tale that’s mortally human from beginning to end. Speaking as a child who grew up with the badass X-Man, it’s heartbreaking to see Wolverine as a nihilistic drunk and Professor X as a senile old man. But that’s where the story will take us. The scarred Logan can’t heal as fast anymore and Charles is beset with seizures that telepathically paralyze the people that he’s around.
It’s Hugh Jackman’s last ride as the adamantium-clawed hero. Since he also changed his opinion after watching the finished film, it’s also Patrick Stewart’s last stint as Professor Charles Xavier. It’s a sobering farewell for both actors performing at their absolute peak. Tough as it is to swallow, their goodbyes couldn’t have been done any better.
The film’s stellar R rating lays credence to Logan’s perfection in cinema. The usually reserved PG adamantium training wheels come off. Logan chops off limbs and heads like a hot knife through butter. Charles loses his calm demeanor and resorts to uncouth language. Even Laura Kinney isn’t averse to slicing throats here and there. Yes, this is amazing, but the R rating’s best victory is its unreserved treatment of Logan’s characters. Logan is unafraid of disappointing more conservative bigwigs. It can take its characters to points no cinematic superhero has ever gone.
Unlike director James Mangold’s other hero thriller The Wolverine, Logan is a hero movie that breaks apart from standard superhero fare. It makes its audience care about each character and what they’re fighting for. Even its bad guys are deftly established as evil, unlike the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s evil-for-the-sake-of-it villains.
Newcomer Dafne Keen shines as Laura Kinney. Often tight-lipped, Kinney’s silence is the complementary foil to Logan’s and Charles’s dynamic as the drunk and the ailing father, respectively. Her powers as a Wolverine clone adds action with just as much ferocity as Wolverine himself.
Logan’s most moving scenes are easily the ones where all three act as one happy family. All three mains together, they quickly become cinema’s most dysfunctional family. Yet it’s a family nonetheless for Logan who has never had much towards an actual family.
It’s a melancholic family because we know Logan is still Wolverine at heart. The film’s heady climax is action-packed, much like any hero movie. But it has meaning. Logan’s redemptive arc comes to a close. Each drop of blood and bit of guts is a testament to the animalistic rage that only Wolverine can know. Yet it’s a rage fueled by more than a century’s worth of emotion. Logan may be old, but he’s not leaving the cinematic universe without a fight.
This isn’t a passing of the torch or a final bout to put butts in seats. This is Logan’s (and Jackman’s) and Xavier’s (and Stewart’s) last hurrah. Godspeed, Logan; there are no more guns in the valley.