The wait is finally over, and you can see Logan in theaters this weekend. The buzz has been off the charts for Hugh Jackman‘s final turn as the mutant hero he’s been playing since his breakthrough performance in the original X-Men movie back in 2000, but now that you’ve seen James Mangold‘s latest addition to the franchise, we want to know what you think.
After the jump, we offer our own thoughts on Logan, but since this is for people who have already seen the movie, beware of major spoilers from here out.
As huge as the buzz has been, and as much as I thought the hype might create expectations that couldn’t be met, this is the first time in a long time that a movie with overwhelmingly positive reviews actually surpassed my expectations. Logan packs a punch, both in the relentlessly brutal, bloody action and the powerful emotional resonance that comes from this intimate story about an aging Logan (Hugh Jackman) and a debilitated Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart)
Hugh Jackman has never been better as a Wolverine, and this time he is not the man or mutant he used to be. He’s scarred all over his body, healing drastically slower, sometimes his claws don’t even release all the way, and he just wants to be left alone. Logan doesn’t go seeking out fights, reluctant to teach lessons where they don’t need to be explained. But if someone pushes him too far, he has no trouble tapping into that signature rage we’ve seen before by jamming his claws through their skull or cutting off limbs for those who are luckier. Blood splatters and you feel each and every hit that Logan makes with anyone who tries to cross him.
So what is Logan doing with his time? He’s trying to earn money so that he and Charles Xavier can buy a boat and just escape the real world. It sounds like a death cruise more than anything, because Xavier is in even worse shape than Logan. The most powerful brain in the world is suffering from old age, and every now and that Xavier has these mental breakdowns where his powers go haywire and effect everything in the vicinity. Pills and some kind of shot help keep him in check, but he’s still in a gravely dangerous condition. His state allows Patrick Stewart to deliver one of the best performances we’ve ever seen in a superhero movie. It’s truly an Oscar-worthy turn, one that transcends the genre.
We can’t forget about the driving force of the story: a young mutant named Laura, who just so happens to have the same healing powers as Logan, as well as some claws that come out of her hands as well as her feet. That’s because she was bred as a mutant soldier, using Logan’s DNA, which makes her his daughter. Dafne Keen makes an unforgettable impression as this quiet but ferocious mutant child who has the same aggression and abrasive nature as Logan. But just like Logan, she also has feelings that hide behind her fierce exterior. Since Laura doesn’t talk until roughly the third act of the movie (she does scream with rage often), Keen is left to let her facial expressions do the heavy lifting, which isn’t easy for any actor, let alone one as young as she is. Her performance reminds me of a young Jodie Foster in something Taxi Driver in that there’s a maturity in her screen presence despite her age, and it’s quite t he breakthrough performance.
Where Logan finds secure footing is in the simplicity of the story. The focus is placed on the characters, not the action, even though there is plenty of outstanding action to be found. Even so, there are no giant set pieces, no portals in the sky, no massive robots to fight. It’s just three mutants on the road trying to get away from a group of arrogant scientists and soldiers who are trying to clean up their mess while turning mutants into something they’re not.
The primary antagonist (a solid performance by Boyd Holbrook) isn’t necessarily a force to be reckoned with since all he has is a metal arm at his disposal and dedication to doing the job he was hired to do. But that’s fine, because the real enemy that Logan ends up having to face is himself, both literally and figuratively. In addition to dealing with his own psychological and emotional problems, Logan ends up having to face X-24, a mutant that is a clone of himself that can be controlled by the shady organization who created X-23. He’s younger, stronger, deadlier and seems almost unstoppable.
This could easily have been a silly gimmick, but the fact that it’s in such a grounded, hard-hitting Wolverine movie makes it work. Having an aging Wolverine face off with a younger, deadlier clone has plenty of layers: whether it’s in reference to Hugh Jackman’s aging as a real actor, or the fact that playing a character like Wolverine can be both a gift and a curse, constantly haunting him at every turn, making people think that he’s something that he’s not. Take your pick, because the story provides plenty of subtext that can be linked to the real Hugh Jackman’s life, not to mention our own. Plus, let’s not forget that X-24 is introduced by killing Xavier, something that hurts even if you were expecting the character to die.
Logan ends spectacularly in more ways than one. You’ve never seen Wolverine get this fierce in fighting an enemy, but it also comes with a price. He’s not struggling to survive anymore. He’s fighting so Laura can live. And when that means making the ultimate sacrifice, I was not fully prepared for just how powerful the moment would be when Wolverine died. A huge swell of emotions and tears surfaced, and my heart actually ached. It got even worse when Laura came back and titled the homemade cross of sticks standing at his grave, creating an “X” to mark the spot where her hero, her father, now lies.
Never has a blockbuster made me feel such emotional pain, and that’s just one of the many reasons that this is not only the best X-Men movie, but it’s also one of the best comic book movies ever made. My hope is that this continues to serve as evidence to studios that it’s time to take more risks with properties like this and not play things so safe. Logan should be the new gold standard in blockbuster filmmaking, a remarkable piece of genre cinema that is an absolute must-see.
But now it's your turn. What did you think of Logan? Is this the Wolverine movie you’ve always wanted? Did it make you cry? Sound off in the comments below!