LOGAN

Comic book films are just fine. I’m not a huge fan of them, but I don’t have a problem with them, either. There’s a lot of really good ones, as well as plenty of terrible ones. My main issue is that they’re mostly all the same. They often adhere to the same formulas, ending up feeling very predictable and lifeless. Some of them, such as The Dark Knight and Captain America: The Winter Soldier, end up elevating themselves above those formulas, but those are occasional outliers. It’s rare for these films to take on identities of their own.

Decades after the events of the original X-Men film, mutants are nearly extinct and living in hiding. Logan (Hugh Jackman) is a depressed, drunk chauffeur, who has metal claws that grow from his hands. With no direction in his sad life, he comes across Laura (Dafne Keen), a young girl on the run from some nefarious bad guys. She happens to also have metal claws that grow from her hands. With some convincing from old friend and tutor, Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart), Logan promises to escort Laura cross country to safety.

This is the sort of comic book film that’s exactly for me. Like all comic book films, it takes inspiration from famous stories, such as this with Old Man Logan. However, the filmmakers didn’t adapt the story verbatim, but decided to tell their own story. Other than vague references, this is a pretty self-contained film and they used that narrative to their advantage. Wolverine is finally an interesting character. He’s psychologically damaged and physically deteriorating, finding no solace anywhere. He has no friends, nobody to find camaraderie with. Not even really with the now belligerent Professor X. He’s all alone with no nowhere to go. Hugh Jackman is incredible, not just playing rough and gruff this time around. He stumbles, he cries. He’s not the man he used to be, and Jackman shows it all through his fantastic emotional and physical performance.

Offering a child character for him to guide throughout was the perfect way for him to find his humanity and grow. Dafne Keen gives the standout performance, with being cute one moment, but terrifying the next. It was exciting, and even a little unsettling, seeing a ten year old girl jump around and impale people through their chins. Her feral screams and crazy acrobatics made her come off as a real animal. The violence is unrelenting, with every swipe of a claw yielding copious amounts of beautiful blood and flesh. While the fact that this is rated-R doesn’t automatically make it good, it’s satisfying to finally see Wolverine severing limbs, like he should. It’s really what the character deserves. The chaos never got silly either. There was no overblown climax with a looming apocalypse. Just solid, character building action. The action was sometimes hard to follow due to the shaky direction and choppy editing, but I can’t help but cheer when people get mercilessly stabbed in the face.

There’s still some comic book cheese to be had, which will please the big fanboys. For me, though, there were moments of confusion. I wasn’t quite sure where we’re supposed to be in the timeline, or continuity, but I don’t think the filmmakers really want us to care at this point. This is a more grounded affair, but I was still lost at times when the film got a little more fantastical. I loved the central story with Logan and the character dynamic between him and the other characters, but not much anything else. All of the villains were completely forgettable and at times bordering on cartoonish. There’s a lot of silly laboratories with various mutants complete with their own crazy set of powers. While some of this stuff was neat and entertaining, I couldn’t help but feel it clashed with the overall bleak and gritty tone of the rest of the film.

Logan is the perfect send off for who has now been the longest running live action comic book character in history. Hugh Jackman gives the best performance of the entire X-Men franchise, making sure this iconic character’s final outing was legendary. The dedication Jackman gave to this character and series is truly impressive. It’s not just a great Wolverine film. It’s simply a great film as a whole, with engrossing story, well rounded characters, and exciting action sequences with emotional weight. Jackman didn’t just get the Wolverine film he finally wanted, but he gave us the one we all wanted: a simply great film.

8/10

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