Logan, the public’s beloved Wolverine, has aged and isn’t doing so great. As he holds onto life for some reason and is looking for a reason to be. His later life is not filled with action, something he seems to have settled into. That is until a woman comes asking for his help and a chain of events leads to him having to help a young girl in desperate need of guidance and assistance.
Logan is not along the lines of the other Wolverine films or even of the X-Men cinematic universe. Director James Mangold creates here an ending for the Wolverine most have come to love on film in his version of things. Logan is a writing collaboration between Mangold, Scott Frank, and Michael Green, based on a story by Mangold and in turn based on the characters created by John Romita Sr., Roy Thomas, Len Wein, Herb Trimpe, Craig Kyle, and Christopher Yost. Their writing does include some fan service, but not annoyingly so. They do have nods and winks for the fans in there, but Logan is its own thing using familiar characters and storylines. The film is built in a way that is reminiscent of a western with touches of action movies and of course sci-fi given that there are mutants. What the writing team and director create here is a great film, with a good storyline, and fitting ending for Hugh Jackman has Wolverine. Their story, the way they tell it, hits all the right notes for this reviewer who may not be a huge X-Men fangirl, but who did some digging for backgrounds and some research as the films came out. It must be noted that as someone who has not really like the X-Men movies that came out in recent years. This film has its own tone, its own feel while keeping a few of the characters we know and setting them in a bleak future for mutants where they try to survive and maybe, perhaps, even be more than shadows.
The cast here brings up just a few of the usual suspects and a slew of new people. Of course, Hugh Jackman is the lead as Logan/Wolverine and he brings an interesting side of him to the plate here. He shows some cracks, more than usual; he is aging and looks like he may be a bit lost at times. This adds to the character, to the persona of Logan. His interpretation here adds a few layers to his already developed character, giving him a more vulnerable side, a side that makes him more human. How Jackman allows Logan to age in this, which of course is decided by the script and direction, shows that he is deeply involved in this character that he has been embodying for so long. He creates an aging version of himself that is unsure of where to go from there and shows it while still being a protector and fighter. Playing a fantastic X23, or Laura, is Dafne Keen who gives a performance here that makes her shine in scenes she shares with Jackman and Patrick Stewart. This girl is talented and gives her all in scenes that are emotionally and physically demanding. This young lady will be one to watch. Of course, rounding out a big part of the runtime is Patrick Stewart playing an aging and ailing Professor X whom here is afflicted with what could be a cross between dementia, Alzheimer’s, and a mutant’s version of a brain degenerative disease. His portrayal is full of subtle and not so subtle nuances, showing that he truly understands the aging process and what it is doing to the magnificent mind of Charles Xavier. Outside of these three, Eric LaSalle gives a great performance as a man that helps them along the way and Boyd Holbrook plays a mostly worthy and rather despicable villain lifted from the comics and adapted to the film’s tone and need as Pierce.
The film’s western feel does not only come for the story and how the characters evolve but also from its look and its sounds. The cinematography here by John Mathieson gives the film a look that fits with old school westerns even though the settings are modern/futuristic, the way scenes are framed and shot remind of old westerns and of how they feel, how they show the characters. The film keeps a very unified look throughout even though the settings and scenes vary. The music by Marco Beltrami fits these images and this feeling quite well throughout adding to everything and never distracting from what is shown.
Of course, the film also has the usual art direction, makeup effects, visual effects, etc, which are all good and well done, but is more important here is the feeling of the film, if it gives a good final hoorah to Hugh Jackman as Wolverine, which it does and does very well. The film feels right, it fixes some of the past issues (albeit not all of them) with the way he’s been portrayed in the previous entries, and it creates an aging version of him as well as Professor X which are satisfying as well as where they go with things for them. The film also brings up new character with fairly well developed background that could possibly be taken in its territory and its own series of film almost completely independent of the original films. This one is probably the most satisfying X-Men film without feeling like it’s from the X-Men comics if that even makes sense. It’s a solid entry in the series and a solid stand-alone film that could fairly easily be watched by someone with no background on the characters. Logan is a solid ending for its title character and could easily be a high point for the X-Men series or a solid high to end on.