Let me preface this review by saying I’m not the biggest fan of superhero films. Aside from some of the X-men films and DC’s Batman trilogy, I can take or leave them. Logan, a film set in a timeline that may or may not follow on from the events of X-Men: Apocalypse (which was naff, really), is not just a good superhero film. It’s a fantastic piece of cinema. Fans of Naughty Dog’s game, The Last Of Us, will recognise the familiar theme of mentor and ward traversing through a bleak, gritty world, but Logan stands on its own as a grim character study of one of Marvel’s most enigmatic characters, The Wolverine.
The film takes place in 2029, in a grimmer version of our current reality, showing border control tightly enforced, a planet where no new mutants have been born in years and a wolverine who is clearly running out of time. For unknown reasons, his healing powers aren’t what they were. He’s drinking. He’s fed up. It’s all very clear in the opening scenes that Logan is a man who holds no high hopes for his future. It’s also very clear from an opening fight that this is an R-rated film (15 in the UK), with the visceral impact of adamantium claws in full display and F-bombs flying everywhere.
In this existence, Logan cares for an ailing professor-X, played deftly by the always fantastic Patrick Stewart. They’re also assisted by Caliban, who is portrayed by Stephen Merchant, a comedic actor and writer best known for his work with Ricky Gervais. Both carers face the question: what do you do when the world’s most dangerous mind starts to deteriorate?
According to the film, you do your best. It’s an endearing relationship, even as Logan is forcing drugs into the Professor’s mouth to stem his psychic powers, we see the years of history between the two in every glance, embrace or even argument. It’s revealed that Logan’s goal is to buy a boat for them to live on the high seas, safe from the rest of the world.
This theme of retreating from the world is truly apparent in every scene, with Logan regularly nursing an adamantium bullet in his fingertips, the one thing that will kill him. All of this, however, is shattered when he encounters Laura. A girl with gifts (or curses) just like his own. At first, the man we know as an anti-hero is reluctant, but is ultimately forced to help her reach a safe place, far to the north.
Working against them is Boyd Holbrook, an actor most famous for Netflix’s Narcos, but portraying a military-grade, southern-drawling nemesis to great effect. Transigen, the business he works for, is a bit of a cliche supervillain-esque science facility, but the robotic-limbed, tattooed mercenaries working for it make up for this.
With all the pieces in motion, this film is truly fantastic. In an early dialogue between Logan and Professor X, they discuss mutant-kind: “We thought mutants were a gift from god. Perhaps they were god’s mistake.” Then, the men are given a beacon of hope in the mute girl, Laura, who is just as deadly a fighter as Wolverine himself. Fight scenes become carnage, watching a muscular but weakened Logan launch into furious, powerful rages and Laura slicing alongside him. It’s something to behold.
But it’s not the violence, nor the swearing, that makes this film great. It’s the relationship between the trio on their trip, watching Laura reveal herself and Logan, reluctant to the end, slowly come to accept and care for her. It’s watching a man with a lifetime of conflict find some purpose once again. It’s saying goodbye to a Hugh Jackman’s wolverine, a man who has completely embodied the character since his first appearance. It’s evident Jackman knew this was his last outing as the X-man. His performance is perfect.
There are a few issues I’d pick out, with one doppelganger introduction that I felt didn’t make a lot of sense and Richard E Grant’s completely remorseless doctor character falling a bit flat. Overall, however, the dust-pan setting of an ailing US, some incredible fight scenes (look out for one in the forest towards the end. Vintage Wolverine) an emotional relationship between three brilliant characters and a redemptive character arc for Logan make this a must-see. It really is that good.
Rating: 9/10 bananas. As good as superhero films come. This is Jackman’s version of Jonny Cash’s Hurt.