Finally, after eight in-depth reviews about the X-Men franchise, here we are with the latest entry, the third spin-off revolving around Wolverine’s character. Directed once again by James Mangold, who was in charge of The Wolverine, Logan is the final film with the terrific actors that have portrayed the most iconic characters of the series, Hugh Jackman and Patrick Stewart. As you may have guessed, I’ve been hyped about this movie for quite some time, so it’s time to answer to the question… Is it up to par with the expectations it has created? Let’s find out!
It’s 2029 and the mutant population is almost gone. The X-Men are gone. Logan, who has lost a considerable amount of healing abilities, keeps Professor Xavier hidden away somewhere on the Mexican border while working as a chauffeur and dealing with alcohol addiction. He is just a shadow of the superhero he once was. One day, however, both mutants see themselves involved in a dangerous pursuit, as a young girl asks them for help to get to the Canadian border. Logan refuses at first, but as he’ll soon see, his connection to Laura is stronger than it seems.
When asked about the violence featured in the movie, due to the R-rating it received, Mangold stated the following:
For me, what was most interesting in getting the studio to okay an R-rating was something entirely different [from violence]. They suddenly let go of the expectation that this film is going to play for children, and when they let go of that, you are free in a myriad of ways. The scenes can be longer. Ideas being explored in dialogue or otherwise can be more sophisticated. Storytelling pace can be more poetic, and less built like attention-span-deficit theater.
Man, was he right. Logan is a very stylish piece of film-making, full of dark and serious moments that would never be possible in a PG-13 movie. Unlike the previous flicks in the franchise, it is packed with silent, crude scenes that make the audience feel the difficulties the characters are going through in a subtle, effective way. The pacing is slower, the action scenes not so abundant and the looks more dramatic. Instead of creating an action film, it takes a more human approach, as an old Logan struggles to find a shred of hope. Its mature nature is something we are definitely not used to in superhero movies, especially when it comes to the Marvel universe, and it is a very welcome breath of fresh air.
Maybe it wasn’t the most important thing for the director, but the violence also benefited greatly from the rating Logan received. It is, simply put, brutal. It doesn’t feel forced (unlike in the recent R-rated superhero film Deadpool) and is a joy to watch. There’s blood everywhere, guts are shown with no hesitation and yet it makes sense with the gritty tone of the movie. Wolverine is going through difficult times, and the way he fights is a clear reflection of that. Laura has some truly amusing action scenes too, which are nothing short of amazing. Mangold handled violence is a very stylish way in The Wolverine, but this time around, he has taken it to the next level. It is an edge-of-the-seat experience unlike any other film in the mutant franchise.
The incredible special effects, with less reliance in CGI than ever before also helped a lot. With a few exceptions during the third act, there are very few fights that involve over-the-top mutant powers, as almost every action sequence relies on hand-to-hand fighting, and thankfully, their choreography was more than decent.
Both mutants we already knew have changed quite a bit since the previous outings, but the actors have portrayed this new, old and hopeless versions of the mutants beautifully. Jackman and Stewart are as excellent as always, even if the roles have changed a lot. Dafne Keen is introduced as Laura, the young gifted girl, and her performance is freaking astounding. It was an amazing surprise to see how incredibly she looked in the role, especially considering she was 11 at the time of shooting. She is perfect in every situation, from the most upbeat action scenes to the more dramatic moments. A jaw-dropping performance, without a doubt.
The main problem I have with the movie is the villain. He is one of the weakest characters of them all, and while it is understandable that Mangold decided to give him little screen time to focus on the protagonists, I think he ended up being too irrelevant. The most intense fight scenes are those against a man-created mutant (how difficult it is to explain these things without spoiling anything!), and while it could have been a nice idea, it felt out-of-place, as it clashes with the more down-to-earth approach the rest of the film has.
In addition, the soundtrack is really poor. The songs that are thrown into Logan are very appropriate to set the tone, but the score written for the movie is forgettable at best. Originally, Cliff Martinez, who created the excellent music Drive, Only God Forgives and The Neon Demon boasted, was going to be in charge of the soundtrack, but upon his withdrawal, Marco Beltrami was hired and had to write the score in just six weeks (and it shows).
There are lots of little details and references thrown into the runtime, that greatly enhance the movie for the fans, the nicest of all being the inclusion of X-Men comic books in the universe shown on-screen. The kids in the film had comics about the mutants, graphic novels that tell the stories about the fights the X-Men had years before they disbanded. It is a lot of fun to see how Logan hates those comics as he believed they were full of lies and pointless plots.
Probably most fans are wondering if the ending is good, considering we won’t see these actors in their roles any more. Obviously I won’t spoil any plot-point, but the short answer is yes, it has a very satisfactory ending. I wish it was more dramatic, as the events shown beg for more depth, but it was great anyways.
Was it worth the wait, then? Hell yeah. Logan won’t be remembered the way we remember The Dark Knight, but it is really close. With its mature approach that takes the story to the next level, a terrific cast and an edge-of-the-seat experience, Logan is the perfect Swan Song for Wolverine. 9/10
P.S. So we are done with this franchise! I wish I had more time to write so that my blog wasn’t flooded with them during the last few weeks, but life gets in the way sometimes. For a while I won’t stick to a series of reviews in order to bring more diverse films, but I really liked this experience so I might repeat it soon…