Sometimes an actor and a character are perfectly suited for each other. That’s why it’s nearly impossible to imagine anyone other than Hugh Jackman playing Logan, aka Wolverine.
The nearly-indestructible mutant with quick-healing powers and razor-sharp claws that could retract and protrude from his knuckles was introduced to movie audiences in 2000’s “X-Men” and would make Jackman an international star.
But after six movies (a couple of cameos aside) and nearly 20 years, Jackman returns to the character for a seventh and final time in “Logan,” a haunting, brutal, and occasionally poignant film.
“Logan” also marks the X-Men universe swan song for Patrick Stewart, who has played mutant father-figure Charles Xavier as long as Jackman has been brandishing his claws.
The final major distinction for this film is it is the first X-Men-related movie to earn an R-rating, marking a full evolution from youthful, superhero fluff to grown-up pathos and violence.
“Logan” is set in the year 2029, where the Wolverine’s body is finally starting to give out on him and he is making ends meet by driving a limo. Logan is caring for Charles with the help of an albino mutant named Caliban (a nearly unrecognizable Stephen Merchant). Charles is battling dementia and dangerous seizures that affect not only him, but anyone in range of his powerful mind-control.
Loyalty to an old friend aside, Logan is content to drink his life away in a future world that feels grim and hopeless and where, mysteriously, no new mutants have been born in years.
But things change when fate brings Logan together with a little girl named Laura (Dafne Keen), who is being pursued by a gang of corporate mercenaries led by super-jerk Pierce (Boyd Holbrook). It also turns out Laura possesses all of Logan’s abilities, right down to the metal claws and grumpy disposition.
When the bad guys with guns show up, Logan takes off with Laura and Charles on an epic road trip to a safe haven that may or may not actually exist.
“Logan” is one heck of a movie, easily rating as the best X-Men-related movie to come along.
The film works as an allegory for our modern world, which can feel ugly and demoralizing at times and, even though there are seeds of hope for a better future, there is the sad realization we may not get to be a part of it.
But don’t worry, while there is plenty of heartbreak in “Logan,” this movie is far from a downer with some spectacular action sequences and even a few well-earned laughs. And longtime Wolverine fanboys will be more than thrilled the kid gloves have finally been taken off after countless, bloodless battles and the visceral carnage of close combat against a dude with foot-long metal claws is on full, splattering display.
But even with all of this in play, “Logan” doesn’t work without the fully-committed acting performances, especially from Keen, Stewart, and Jackman.
Keen more than holds her own with the adults in the cast and brings a surprising amount of nuance to her character. Stewart, a great Shakespearian actor in his own right, plays the aged Professor X with the volatility of King Lear, a man who in one moment is fiery with impotent rage and in the next is a gentle and sage mentor. Great stuff.
And then there is Jackman. Even though Wolverine was a popular comic book character long before Jackman came along, it’s fair to argue it was Jackman who made the character iconic. Embodying Logan is second nature to him and in this movie, you can feel him emptying the tank and giving this last go-around his all. Jackman has always been consistent as Wolverine, even if the movies surrounding him have not. Here, he shows the weight of every fight and every loss with a single sideways glance. Wolverine could not have hoped for a better sendoff than “Logan.” Schnict!
“Logan” is rated R for strong brutal violence and language throughout and for brief nudity.