It is hard to believe that Hugh Jackman first played Wolverine back in 2000, when the superhero genre was fresh and exciting. Much has changed in the world of comic-book blockbusters since then, but there has been one constant; there is still only one Logan, and Jackman's dedication to the role is extremely admirable. However, it is still fair to say that studios have never given us a completely unabridged version of the character, perhaps for the sake of staying child-friendly.
That is, until now.
Logan is the ultimate depiction of Wolverine. Both faithful to the comics and extremely adult in its themes of loss, aging and mortality, Logan isn't just an excellent comic-book movie; it is an excellent film full stop.
The story begins in 2029, with Logan as an aging, alcoholic limo driver who spends his days taking care of his old friend Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart) and keeping a low profile just south of the Mexican border. They believe themselves to be the last of their kind, after an unexplained event wiped out the rest of the mutants. Resigned to his fate, all Logan wants is to save up enough money in order to buy a boat and get Xavier and himself out of there. His consistent thoughts of redemption are now eclipsed with thoughts of suicide. However, someone surprising turns up in the form of Laura (Dafne Keen), a young girl whose powers bear a striking resemblance to Logan's. On her tail are Donald Pierce (Boyd Holbrook) and Zander Rice (Richard E. Grant), and they will stop at nothing to get her back. Unfortunately for them, the 'Wolverine' is still driven to protect those who need him, regardless of his outward expressions to the contrary.
More similar to Clint Eastwood's Unforgiven than any of the previous X-Men films, Logan has much to say about violence, family and death, and the major surprise here is the eloquence it displays in addressing these themes. Yes, this is easily the most brutal Wolverine film, but the violence is not over-the-top or glorified. Director James Mangold wants to focus on the characters and themes, using the action sequences to serve the development of the story. Logan and Xavier are old men now; they have seen death, experienced loss and are struggling with deteriorating health. These characters, whilst still unique, now have relatable traits.
The film's greatest strength, however, lies in the performances. Keen is a revelation as Laura, and both Stewart and Jackman have never been better. Their chemistry is so believable, and ultimately so heartbreaking, that it is hard to overstate just how good they really are. Stewart lends a refreshingly foulmouthed humour to the role of Professor X, but also a gentle pathos in his respectful portrayal of the aging mutant experiencing his own form of mental deterioration.
Hugh Jackman really shines the brightest here though. He clearly loves this character, and you can tell how sad he is to be saying goodbye to him. His performance is exceptionally nuanced and runs the gamut of emotions; rage, sadness and a quiet acceptance are all evident beneath his weathered face.
It is fair to say that never before has a film of this kind genuinely moved me, and as such it is one of the finest comic book tales ever told in the cinema. If you are looking for all out action, then you might be disappointed. There is plenty of blood and violence, but more prevalent are the film's powerful performances and poignant moments.
Ultimately, Logan is unforgettable, especially if you grew up with the X-Men films. Both nostalgic and new, this is the film fans and critics wanted. It is the perfect swan-song for Jackman and Stewart, and it proves once and for all that they really are the best at what they do.
And you will probably shed a tear. I know I did.
Book your ticket to Logan here.