A comic book movie like no other: like someone took a glossy sports car, ripped the chrome and colours from it and riddled the engine block with bullet holes. It was great.
In the year 2029, Logan aka Wolverine of the X-Men, finds himself living a reclusive life as a chauffeur, ageing rapidly, guilt ridden and one of the last mutants left in the world. He takes care of Professor Xavier who is bedridden and suffering a form of dementia, but when a young girl appears in their lives with mutant powers, it becomes a cat-and-mouse chase as the two try and protect her.
Logan is based loosely off of the Old Man Logan comic, and during its development Deadpool became an overnight success with an R-rating and 15 certification. Logan quickly followed suit, becoming the R-rated blood-soaked swear-fest it is today. But more than that, the film has a quality hitherto unknown to the superhero genre.
Gone is the glossy antics of comic book heroes and villains, no more cinematic battles around sky-beams, no exploding cities, very little CGI, no restoring of the status quo. This is a superhero one-off movie that takes more from dramatic cinema than it does its fantastic origins. It isn’t one for the kiddies either, this is a mature and violent affair and the film relishes in its new tone. The first word Logan utters is an f-bomb. In fact he swears in almost every second line!
The action sequences in the movie, as the one element all audiences would expect to see, are more like John Wick than X-Men. A lot of dispensable thugs are brutally murdered. But when your lead character is an extremely pissed off old man with metal claws in his hands, seeing enemies losing limbs, heads and being stabbed through the face in a shower of gore should be expected. Yeah. Not for the fainthearted, this one.
But what isn’t expected, is Logan’s bitter, quiet and sad tone and theme. A shroud of regret and emptiness cloaks this entire story, even at its happiest of moments. We see our favourite X-Man played by Hugh Jackman drinking (not so surprising) his sorrows away, shouting at a raving and distressed Xavier (Sir Patrick Stewart) and even hinting at suicide! He doesn’t seem to have any affection of Xavier – but is honour bound to protect him – their scenes tug at our heartstrings as they bicker and argue with references dating all the way back to Bryan Singer’s X-Men movie in 2000. The chemistry between the two actors is real, forged over nearly two decades now, and makes the film’s third act so very hard to swallow…
It is incredibly commendable and very important for big blockbuster films like Logan to be made. With Marvel Studios beating us over the head with endless sequels and running narratives, here’s a Marvel film (funded by 20th Century Fox) that bucks the trend: a film about mortality, about endings, a superhero film about weakness and frailty and reality, and what’s more, it is well made.
The only issues I can take with the film are nitpicks and really, in the grand spectrum of superhero movies there is no one film without those.
Logan is effective because it is simple. We have a superhero road-trip movie with a grumpy father, a spontaneous, angry daughter and a decrepit but well-meaning crazy granddad! It isn’t without its humour; the film knows exactly when to give the audience levity, saving us from a truly dour experience!
I should mention the young girl, named Laura (played by debut star Dafne Keen) and wow, is she a ball of silent rage and anger! She barely talks, but the back-and-forths generated between Logan and Xavier about her are priceless. An incredible physical performance.
If you are tired of the superhero genre then this is still for you, even more than the vulgar comedic stylings of Deadpool. Logan is the most grounded and realised superhero film ever; focused on the dramatic performances (and bloody carnage) over everything else.
Additional marshmallows: There’s something great about hearing these two once 12A friendly characters swear like grumpy old men.