I have been dreaming of this Wolverine since I was a fat little kid watching the 90's cartoon and putting knifes between my fingers like an asshole. As a fat little adult, I can say it was worth the wait.
Directed by: James Mangold
Story by: James Mangold
Starring: Hugh Jackman, Patrick Stewart, Dafne Keen
Release Date: March 3, 2017
Run Time: 135 minutes
I completely understand how a majority of you gentle readers are suffering comic book fatigue. Even I, with my seemingly endless capacity for CGI trash, am losing enthusiasm for them with each passing movie. LOGAN is a breath of fresh air in the genre because for once I get to sit in a theater and see a movie based on a comic book that isn't a slave to continuity or cramming in plot points to ensure it fits into a larger hole. There is no post-credits stinger, no Thanos, no Infinity Stones, and no Justice_League.rmvb on a Dropbox. It's the beautiful end of a 17 year journey for Australia's Greatest National Treasure.
It’s 2029 and mutants are on the brink of extinction; no new mutants have been born in the last 15 years. Logan (Hugh Jackman) is looking beat to shit. The adamantium in his body is slowly poisoning him and his healing has slowed down drastically. He, alongside mutant-tracker Caliban (Stephen Merchant) care for a debilitated Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart), whom they’ve tucked away over the Mexican border. Logan’s primary concern is no longer saving the world from Sentinals or Vinny Jones with a saucepan on his head, but scraping enough money together as a limo driver in Bumfuck, Texas to buy a boat so he and Xavier can live out the rest of their lives in peace on the ocean. As with everything else in Logan’s long life, this goes to shit when a young girl named Laura (Dafne Keen) is dropped into his life. Laura has mutant abilities very similar to his, and wouldn’t you know it, she’s being relentlessly pursued by a large military force led by Donald Pierce (Boyd Holbrook). They want her back by any means necessary for various comic book reasons. You know the drill. Old man Logan must get her to a sanctuary in Canada where she will be safe from Pierce’s men, but Donald will stop at nothing to keep that little Hispanic girl from crossing the border.
LOGAN is the hardest of hard R's. Sure a lot (and I mean a LOT) of people get brutally murdered, but it didn't get its rating by doing what DEADPOOL did. You know, the ol' 'see how much they could get away with before a FOX executive pulled the plug' method. It's R because it's a movie for adults that treats the audience like grown men and women. The world of LOGAN isn't one that has been focus grouped to death and fit snugly into a universe that is supported by licensing deals and global box office receipts. There are real consequences for every action, and most of them aren't pretty. There are no enchanted witches opening portals, nor are there robots lifting islands into the sky. Instead, people get stabbed in the fucking head. A lot. It feels like you're watching a post apocalyptic movie and to some extent it is: a mutant apocalypse. Logan and Xavier are living their own FURY ROAD while the rest of humanity proceeds normally. It's more or less a western about an aging gunslinger's last ride, only this gunslinger just so happens to have an adamantium skeleton and claws in his hands. It's closer to UNFORGIVEN or HELL OR HIGH WATER than X-MEN: APOCALYPSE or THE WOLVERINE. The world isn't at stake and there's certainly not a purple ancient Egyptian mutant trying to wipe out humanity. It's about a small "family" of mutants doing everything they can do to get an outcast to safety. That's what X-Men has always been about. Xenophobia, racism, prejudice, and oppression.
Bar none, my favorite part of LOGAN is that it portrays what it's actually like to be Wolverine. My immediate reaction after the movie ended was that it was the Wolverine I had always wanted to see: raw, violent, going into berzerker rages and slashing limbs off. It wasn't until a couple of days later where I gave it more thought and Patrick Bromley over at F This Movie described what I loved about it better than I ever could: For 17 years Wolverine has been the coolest guy on screen and the de-facto leader in the X-Men movies because he's just such a badass and his muscles are huge and he has a cigar and holy SHIT he's the coolest. In reality, being Wolverine sucks. It fucking sucks. You live for hundreds of years and regret everything you've ever done. Death and misery follow you everywhere no matter what corner of the world you run to and every person you ever get close to dies. It's a lonely, awful, miserable life. What I'm trying to say is, he doesn't call anybody "bub."
His healing ability is greatly diminished and the adamantium in his body is slowly killing him - and he's not putting up much of a fight. He's an alcoholic who is waiting to die. In his last couple of appearances as Logan, Hugh Jackman was built like he was genetically engineered through the Weapon X program to fuck your girlfriend in the backseat of his Pontiac Firebird. Now he's broken down, grumpy, and tired. Worst of all, he has to care for a 90 year old man who can kill people with his mind.
Not only do I love how much character LOGAN has given to, uh, Logan; but they have done an equally great job giving Charles Xavier depth. For a majority of Patrick Stewart's tenure, his character was Professor X, Leader of the X-Men. Full stop. In LOGAN he is a man with regrets, who spent his life working towards his dream, achieved it, and had it destroyed. Decades of working and when all is said and done, he's drugged up and locked away in a water tower in Mexico. He's the most powerful mutant in the world, but he's riddled with a degenerative brain disease that makes him prone to lethal seizures. These seizures are gravely powerful, with one such incident in his past injuring hundreds of people. The implications that come from his seizures and the lack of any surviving mutants in the world serve up quite a severe kick in the gut in a movie chock full of swift and merciless dick kicks.
With that being said, it's heartwarming to see Logan hiding Xavier and keeping him safe. After all these years - decades after Charles took a young Wolverine into his school to help him piece together the fragments of his past - Logan feels responsible for him and keeps him hidden from outside forces that would want such a potentially dangerous and volatile weapon eradicated from society. But that's the world of LOGAN. No fresh faced teenagers in black rubber suits. It's two old mutants waiting to die - that is until a young girl crosses their path.
Dafne Keen makes her cinematic debut as Laura and holy shit is she incredible. It shouldn't surprise any of you gentle readers that Hugh Jackman and Patrick Stewart are fantastic, that's a given. Even in the worst X-men films they're still great. Keen is especially impressive because her character is mute, meaning her entire performance is facial expression and a primal physicality in her action scenes. Xavier tells Logan she's a lot like him - and the feral screeching she emits as she stabs people in the throat makes me agree. She fights like a young and less housebroken Logan did. She was raised to be a weapon and she's pretty great at the whole murdering people thing.
What makes her work is the fact that Mangold and the writers chose to make Laura so young. She couldn't be an adult or even a snotty pre-teen who thinks she knows how the world works, but then she actually needs their help and then they all learn a lesson in the end. She had to be a kid, because making her young means Logan can't just leave her behind to fend for herself. Logan and Laura both desperately yearn for a familial relationship, the kind you're not afforded when you're injected with a metal skeleton and kept locked away from the world. They both desperately want someone to care for them, but Logan is reluctant because he's been alive a long time and he's seen nothing but loss and misery. Everyone he's ever been close to since the god damn Civil War had died tragically in some way or another, so why become this girl's father knowing a grisly death will follow? He doesn't want to be a daddy, he just wants to finally die and be at peace.
LOGAN is a comic book movie that will be spoken alongside THE DARK KNIGHT for years to come. Although it's the culmination of a 17 year journey, no other X-MEN entry is required viewing. It stands alone as a character-driven western led by 3 fantastic performances. It is also led by lots and lots of people getting graphically stabbed in the face with metal claws. You would think after 2 hours I'd get sick of watching bald, muscular dudes in tactical vests getting adamantium ram jammed in their throats, but you'd be dead wrong. My biggest takeaway and lingering thought is how insane it is that Hugh Jackman's spin-offs started at ORIGINS: WOLVERINE and ended here. It's the most insane course correction I've ever seen in my life. To look at that garbage fire of a movie and see LOGAN and DEADPOOL come out of it makes me wonder how DC can't make fucking Batman work.
Above all else, this feels like an uncompromised vision. We saw a glimpse of this with Mangold and Jackman with their follow-up to ORIGINS in 2013's THE WOLVERINE, but then it ended with a big dumb robot samurai that didn't fit the movie preceding it. They gave the duo complete control and let Jackman take his final bow on his own terms, and it's a cinematic marvel to behold. The final shot is nothing short of incredible and a sight I will never forget.
I just hope studios learn the right lessons from LOGAN. Don't make your next movie R just because LOGAN and DEADPOOL are rated R, make creative decisions to accommodate the story you're telling with the characters therein and people will throw money and acclaim at you. Don't excise slow moments because they won't play well to a younger, toy buying demographic, don't add scenes taking place in Beijing just to rake in that Chinese box office, and don't be a slave to continuity. Just tell a great story and create art.
Unfortunately, I know deep down in my heart of hearts FOX will follow this with an R rated X-Men sequel where we see Beast's big blue fuzzy dick.