When news of Logan first emerged, I was both excited and skeptical as apart from his inclusion in all the X-Men movies, Wolverine has been treated woefully and underappreciated in his solo outings. His solo movies have been a mismatch of horribly inaccurate back stories, disappointing action and one can only assume, studio pandering. They never really showed a movie audience the sheer veracity and anger that eats Wolverine alive. As the man has said himself, he is “the best at what he does, but what I do isn’t very nice.” And what is he exactly? He is an animal, a violent, feral beast that is trying to piece together his life, history and find his place in this world. None of this was depicted well in the past big screen adaptations but fear not James Mangold and Hugh Jackman have addressed these issues and so much more in the absolutely wonderful Logan.
The film opens with a visibly older Logan working as an Uber driver and generally looking like a beaten down man. After a fantastically violent interaction with some wannabe thieves, he takes off and goes to pick up fares in his battered limousine. Why is he working as a driver? Well it’s been ten years since the Westchester incident and both Logan and Charles Xavier (a wonderfully frail yet still classy Patrick Stewart) are on the run and trying to keep low profiles with the help of Caliban (a heavily made up, yet still recognisable Stephen Merchant). They are all hiding out on the Mexican border. But Logan is soon spotted by a woman at a funeral. He ignores her and says he “can’t help her”.
The woman is desperate for his help as she is aware of the existence of a little girl (Dafne Keen is absolutely amazing here). She needs help and quickly as she is being pursued by The Reavers. A band of vicious mercenaries led by a wonderful Boyd Holbrook as the cyber armed boss man, Pierce. Not to give anything away, but Pierce is pretty desperate to get this little girl back. And this is where the movie picks up and settles into the awesome road western tone as Logan reluctantly straps on his boots and agrees to help transport the little girl and Xavier to a safe haven.
In a tonal shift from traditional superhero fare, the movie takes it’s time telling the story and lets the human emotion and struggle win out. Don’t get me wrong, there are perfectly portioned and timed action scenes. All of which are feral and violent just like the movie’s title! But they all seem natural and unforced in their placement. And when they kick in, they don’t leave much to the imagination! But the trek to the safe haven is the main plot point which takes you on a roller-coaster of emotion and hits hard when it peaks.
When the film was over, I was actually tired. There was so much to take in, not in terms of overblown effects and loud noises. A lot of emotion and genuine grief at what had happened. I felt like I had watched a lost Clint Eastwood or John Wayne movie about a lone gunslinger that is forced to throw on his gun belt one more time and do what’s right. Except with uber-violence, visibly more swearing and mutants (well not as much as previous X-Men movies, but as I said I can’t say too much!). Extremely sad that Jackman is hanging up his claws but there was no better way to send him off! Anyway, enough from me, get out and go see this awesome Mutant Western. And bring tissues, lots of tissues!!
By Jamie T. Murphy