Action flick is dark and serves as an emotional farewell to Hugh Jackman’s X-Men tenure
Sam Thornley / Staff Writer
Logan promises a final ride for Hugh Jackman as Wolverine and delivers in this dark and violent neo-western. In addition to Jackman, the film also stars Dafne Keen in her first major film, Boyd Holbrook, Richard E. Grant, Stephen Merchant, and Patrick Stewart in his last appearance as Charles Xavier. Written and directed by James Mangold, the film was released on March 3, 2017 by Twentieth Century Fox.
Set in the year 2030 where mutants are all but extinct, Logan and Charles Xavier struggle to make a living while their bodies are decaying in their old age. When a young mutant girl named Laura enters their life, Logan reluctantly decides to become a hero one last time as he and Charles escort her in a journey that offers the promise of a hopeful future.
A major strength of Logan is its grounded setting in contrast to other superhero films. Besides the mutants and some cyborg henchmen, the film is largely free of science fiction and fantasy tropes aside from a few token elements to make it slightly futuristic. The story looks as if it could take place in the contemporary world, which makes it more engaging through the lack of fantasy elements.
Going with the grounded setting is the film’s dark mood and serious stakes. The violence is gory and not stylized, as ruthless mercenaries get chopped to pieces while they relentlessly chase the heroes, who are not in the best shape to defend themselves. Needless to say, the film is an edge of the seat affair that makes it clear lives are at stake, which makes it easy for the audience to stay engaged in the trio’s efforts.
The film is competently directed in the action department, as camera movements are steady and not too frenetic while giving the audience a clear view of what’s happening. The action is usually focused on hand to hand combat that ends with henchmen sliced up in a variety of bloody manners by mutant claws, while Logan’s age means his healing powers do not work well and force him to be careful. This causes the action to be low-key and full of tension, which offers a break from the over the top, explosion filled mayhem typically associated with blockbusters.
Not surprisingly, the film has quite a bit of emotion and heart wrenching moments for a story that concerns the end of an age. Both Logan and Charles are in quite the pitiful state when the audience meets them with equally broken bodies and minds, which makes their situation even more dire. There are also several scenes devoted to character development between the two and Laura, which offers some tender moments as their bond grows and they come to terms with their lives in a somber way.
While the film offers Hugh Jackman and Patrick Stewart delivering their best for their characters’ grand finale, the real star of the show is Dafne Keen as Laura. As a troubled mutant child with no social skills and most of her lines in Spanish, Keen gives an endearing performance that focuses mostly on body language over dialogue while commanding attention. Considering this is only her second acting credit, this makes her performance all the more powerful due to the amazing amount of restraint she exhibits by showing instead of telling the audience how her character feels and thinks.
There are some problems in the film despite its impressive attributes. Namely, the dark and depressing mood can be a bit of a turn-off, as not a lot goes well for the heroes throughout and they have to go through quite a bit of pain and effort to accomplish anything. Additionally, the story makes the X-Men films feel pointless as the efforts of Wolverine and Charles were all for naught when all the mutants died off.
Finally, the third act feels somewhat out of place with the rest of the film. Namely, some more hard science-fiction elements are introduced that clash with the more realistic atmosphere it had set up. As a result, they can feel out of place and make the viewer feel as if they are watching an almost entirely different movie.
Nevertheless, Logan is a well-directed action flick that manages to compensate for these flaws. With a large amount of character development and a low-key setting commanded by powerhouse performances, the film provides a thoughtful and smaller scale type of adventure than the superhero blockbuster typically offers. Overall, the film ends Hugh Jackman’s acting tenure as Wolverine on a high note that will leave viewers satisfied knowing he chose an appropriate story to end it with.