Logan. A Review
Since X-Men(2000) was released a ridiculous amount of movies based on comic books have been released, we have seen some franchises grow into international blockbusters and some that fail miserably(I am looking at you Fantastic Four). We have seen different actors come and go, Spider-Man has been made with 3 different actors in that time period while Batman, Superman and The Incredible Hulk have all been played by 2 guys. Directors have shown us the range of these once thought to be silly comic book characters, now money printing machines. Some have been straight forward action movies while some have tackled more complex issues and some were even approached like art house films, showing the humanity of these god like figures. While X-Men was not the first comic book movie it is credited for shifting superhero movies from cult favorites to huge franchises and giving birth to the golden age. Through all these years and all these changes, Hugh Jackman's Wolverine has stood the test of time, he has survived a series reboot, a crappy spin off that led to 2 better spin offs, the latter being the movie you are reading about now. It has been quite a journey for James Howlett, and while this may be Hugh Jackman's last turn as the Wolverine, he has earned the right to walk away. He has left us with one hell of a movie to end his tenure, a movie that all future superhero movies will be compared to.
Onto what we are all really here for, Logan. If you are reading this I assume you have seen at least part of any of the 9 X-Men movies in which the Wolverine appears, he has become one of the biggest and well known superheros of them all. This leads me into the first of many ways in which Logan is able to subvert the cliches of the genre and instead use them as an advantage. James Mangold and crew know that you know about Wolverine, and whats more you already know quite a bit about the man behind the Wolverine, Logan. There is no need for backstories, there is no long scene showing where he was between the last time we saw him and now. The viewer does not need this information, we know who Logan is. While this is a Logan we are not entirely familiar with, he is still the same guy who we saw defeat Magneto at the Statue of Liberty all those years ago, his situation has just changed a bit. Things like this are what make Logan so damn good, this was not a slap dash affair, this has been well thought out and given the proper time and effort to make sure the character is shown love. This movie is certainly an ode to the character and that puts it over the edge.
We have seen character studies in superhero movies before, The Dark Knight and both Captain America:Winter Soldier and Civil War come to mind, but nothing has ever been done like this. Mangold has broken down the character of the Wolverine, and guess what? its not pretty. When you really break the man down, he has lived who knows how many lifetimes most of which has been filled with rage induced carnage. The Wolverine is basically a human shredder... of humans, and there is no telling what that constant up close visceral combat can do to an individual. Logan is one of the toughest dudes ever put to screen, but eventually the hens come home to roost and Logan is living with the memory of not only his countless fallen bloody stumps of foes, but more importantly the ones he cares for. Logan seems to bring trouble with him wherever he goes, and that trouble usually is not reserved just for him. He has put the lives of the people he loves and cares for in constant danger, almost always because someone wants to use him or his loved ones for some insane Mengele style experiments, not to mention he has to see people come and go often because of his healing and anti aging process. All of these things would be impossible to fit into one movie, only though 9 movies could you possibly build up this character in this way.
Expanding on that previous thought, Logan is rated R which is a gift from the superhero movie gods. Not only is the violence necessary(and oh boy is there a lot of violence) to push home the point that Wolverine has been through some shit in his life, and the constant bloodshed and gore must take its toll. Logan is one of the most violent movies I have ever seen, we have never really been shown exactly what a punch under the jaw with claws extended does to a person and it is the thing of nightmares. Limbs and heads are constantly being separated from their owner and the true power and ferocity of the Wolverine is released. Not only does the Wolverine get to show us what those claws really can do, we also get to see Logan when he does not have to hold back his language. Being that he is a cigar smoking claw toting vet with an anger problem, its not shocking to know that Logan has a dirty mouth and he is effing and jeffing(that ones for you Stephen Merchant) all over the place in Logan. It is much more shocking to see Professor X dropping F bombs, but that's kinda what Logan is really all about. You may know these people over years and years of movies, but this movies wants to show you a side of them you are not used to, and more often than not a side that makes us uncomfortable. We have gotten along pretty well with a toned down Wolverine in PG13 movies up until now, but everything that comes next that is not R rated is going to feel a little silly.
I wanted to avoid spoilers as best as I could, which is why I did not do a paragraph about the plot of Logan. The marketing for this movie has done a great job of giving you just enough information to know what you are getting into without revealing too much, so I am going to leave that the way it is and let the plot unfold for you(Get there early, that's all I'm going to say about that). Talking about the acting in a comic book movie is like talking about defense in an NBA game, but you are going to get some of the best performances a comic book movie has to offer here, and we get some incredibly powerful performances that would not really fit or work in almost any of Logan's contemporaries. I spoke of the marketing earlier and I can't remember a trailer for a movie that has had a song fit better than Johnny Cash's cover of Hurt fits the trailer for Logan. So many of the lyrics fit the character perfectly, "The old familiar sting, try to kill it all alone, but I remember everything" "What have I become? My sweetest friend, Everyone I know goes away in the end" "You are someone else, I am still right here" and "I will let you down, I will make you Hurt" all will be ringing in your head while watching Logan. If this truly is Hugh Jackman's last outing as the Wolverine, it has been one hell of a ride. I don't believe this to be true, there is always room for more Wolverine and as far as I am concerned the character belongs to Mr. Jackman until he says otherwise, but if this truly is the last one, in the words of Johnny Cash in the words of Trent Reznor, "If I could start again, a million miles away, I would keep myself, I would find a way".