By Tolly Maggs
The X-men films have been hit and miss since the first film was released seventeen years ago. With the other Marvel films building up a wide universe of various characters, the X-Men have had a lot more room to explore the depths of the main series protagonist Logan, also known as The Wolverine. Hugh Jackman (Eddie The Eagle movie) has become the only acceptable face for Wolverine in many fan’s eyes, and this final stand as the adamantium-clawed hero is a beautifully mature farewell.
Wolverine is now an ageing old man. While he was younger he could take more damage and just heal from them pretty quickly, now his wounds take longer to close up and he has to take time to recover. This isn’t the youthful warrior we once knew, instead a battle hardened but weary warrior of yesteryear. The once infamously invincible Wolverine is now very vulnerable. Of course this doesn’t stop him from entering any fray, leaving a rage-induced path of blood and severed limbs in his wake. However, it does raise the stakes and makes for an engaging narrative to follow that stands out from other recent superhero films.
The film takes its time when it comes to pacing, but when the action scenes kick in you’re surely in for a treat. Enhanced by the R-rating, which Hugh Jackman is renowned to have accepted a pay cut to achieve, the fight scenes can be extremely brutal; sometimes laughably over the top, but always engaging and entertaining. It finely balances the action, however, with quieter scenes that allow the characters to stand out for a moment, through either quirky humour or tear-jerking drama. Scenes like these were very well written and directed, but its the actors who truly make these moments shine.
It has been seventeen years since Patrick Stewart (Green Room) and Hugh Jackman first stepped into these roles, and we’ve seen them develop over an entire franchise of films. Logan takes a much more sophisticated approach than previous entries, however. It didn’t feel like a cliche or predictable ‘end of the world’ plot that superhero films have mostly been structured around. Instead, it’s a very in-depth and thorough character study. Both Hugh Jackman and Patrick Stewart have admitted that these will be their final performances as these characters, and its clear they worked hard on the project with the director, James Mangold (The Wolverine, Walk The Line), to give them the proper send-off that they deserve.
Dafne Keen has her debut film here as Laura, the mysterious young mutant whose powers reflect those of Wolverine. Great child actors are hard to come by, and measuring up to Patrick Stewart and Hugh Jackman in a leading role can be a daunting task for anyone. After only a few scenes with her, however, you will see why Keen was chosen for the role. Early parts of the film have her silently present, establishing her through just facial expressions as she looks to Logan. She knows how to show her child-like wonder and innocence whilst also nailing the Wolverine glare to a tee – something which would intimidate any thug for a brief moment.
Her chemistry with Hugh Jackman is a treat to watch develop through the film, and is supported by Hugh Jackman’s top performance. You can see he put a lot of effort into giving Logan an honourable farewell by giving him one final challenge to this self-dependent and lonesome character — to care and protect for Laura and Xavier.
The bad guys chasing after them don’t offer too much outside of adversary for our heroes. Having so much focus on the main protagonists, it was curious to see a lack of focus brought to the antagonists opposing them. The clashes could have been more interesting if more was added to the film, but at 2 hours 21 minutes they may have been strapped for time. This is easily excusable, though, considering how well the heroes were explored and defined.
A big risk was taken making this an R-rated film, but considering the subject matter of a mutant ex-soldier who fights using claws that stem out from his fist, it’s very fitting and welcome. I would definitely consider this a diamond in the rough of other formulaic and safe superhero movies, and would recommend this to anyone who watches the trailer and feels a twinge of curiosity.
Logan review: 4/5