After some nine X-Men movies of various stripes and styles including a couple of previous stand-alone Wolverine films, I had little hope that the best was yet to come. But indeed it has come in the form of Logan, a smart, exciting, bittersweet kickass of a way to send off the Wolverine movies with a final chapter that works on every level. As I say in my video review above, Hugh Jackman, who made this character the hallmark of his film career, takes this version to a whole other place as the movie, set in 2029, seems to represent the end of the mutants and the prime time of both Wolverine (here known as the title character, Logan) and Charles, the head of the X-Men who is heading toward the end of his days.
Jackman, joined by a truly magnificent supporting turn from Patrick Stewart again portraying Charles, finds his character not quite the master of his own body anymore and working as a limo driver right near El Paso, Texas. Living in less-than-desirable circumstances, the pair are joined by an Albino Mutant named Caliban (a terrific Stephen Merchant) who tends after them while shrouding himself in the dark surroundings. With no new mutants on the horizon, this seems — and definitely feels — like the end of the road for these warriors with special powers. Charles, in particular, is plagued by the effects of aging but still maintains an unmistakable wisdom even if his body is deserting him.
Complicating matters though is the arrival of Laura (Dafne Keen), a girl who soon reveals the kinds of powers Logan and Charles instantly recognize. Just wait until the metallic claws come out for some spectacular fighting on her part. Clearly she is there for a reason, and a definite connection to Logan, even as he resists facing the complete truth of it all. After Caliban is snatched, the trio hits the road pursuing and pursued by Laura’s trackers Donald Pierce (Boyd Holbrook) and his cyborg henchman who are doing the dirty work of the head (evil Richard E. Grant) of an oily organization called Transigen that essentially created her. The immediate goal is to get her safely across the border to Canada (and who doesn’t want to go there these days?), but this is going to be a tough battle ahead.
Logan has less the feel of a Marvel comic book movie, keeping the origins intact, but not the creative intent. Frequent references and clips from the classic Alan Ladd 1953 Western Shane will tell you more where the inspiration surfaced for director James Mangold and his script co-writers Scott Frank and Michael Green. This has far more in common with the code of the Old West than of the mutant future, and Mangold has brilliantly merged the basic material fans will understand, while giving it a substance that is completely unexpected yet enormously moving on many levels. An encounter with a family who harbors the trio for the night is especially effective even if it goes in directions I wasn’t thinking it would, and reveals a fascinating and violent twist, but every step of this journey had me with it all the way.
John Mathieson’s sensational Southwestern cinematography and Michael McCusker and Dirk Westervelt’s sharp editing represent across-the-board top-notch technical contributions, but ultimately this particular elegy to a franchise owes so much to its stars and superb cast — both old and new. Jackman and Stewart are at the top of their game, and Keen really seems at the beginning of a spectacular career. Logan is that rare sequel that transcends everything that has come before it and lifts this series to a whole other level of X-cellence. It also showcases the superhero power of humanity and puts it on full display.
Producers are Simon Kinberg, Hutch Parker and Lauren Shuler Donner. After first premiering it at the Berlin Film Festival last week, 20th Century Fox has a winner to release on March 3.
Do you plan to see Logan? Let us know what you think.