There was no doomsday weapon, no super-villain with a thought-out, diabolical plan for world domination, not even invaders from another realm or galaxy. Logan did not feel like a superhero film in the traditional sense. The title itself proves this point: it is not about Wolverine the superhero, it is about James Howlett, about Logan (Hugh Jackman). In a sense, the film is nothing more than a journey, a road trip, with adversaries in pursuit. But it is also a story of redemption that has a conclusive, absolute end. Logan is an emotional and violent display of the last days of an old disgruntled hero. It is a heavy film.
James Mangold, who helmed The Wolverine in 2013, finally got to make the R-rated X-Men film fans have wanted. He drew from westerns when it came to thematic elements of the film; there are more than a handful of nods to the genre. Having directed the remake of the western 3:10 to Yuma probably helped make this motif in Logan all the more fitting. Between the landscape shots and hostile standoffs, Logan gives off a western vibe.
Plot-wise, the film is incredibly depressing, but rewarding. All the X-men are dead, excluding Logan, who is the caretaker of a mentally deteriorating Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart). The two characters play off each other much like a black-sheep son watching over his dying father. The dynamic between Stewart and Jackman is touching and believable, given their circumstances. Logan seems mad at Xavier for reasons you will have to see for yourself, but in the end, the revelations that transpire simply add to the semi-tragic nature of the film.
The trailers obviously gave away that X-23, Laura Kinney, played by the young Dafne Keen, has some sort of connection to Logan. If you have read the comics, none of this is surprising, but the way it is framed in the film works without the feeling of exposition being crammed down your throat. Needless to say, Keen’s performance is spectacular. Her ability to add so much expression to a semi-mute character was incredibly unexpected. Her chemistry with Jackman does not feel forced, and the relationship between Logan and Laura is rewarding. Their journey on the run obviously brings them closer together. I have nothing but high praise for Keen in her role.
This film features Jackman in what is easily his best performance of the character. Logan is mentally and physically exhausted. One can argue that he is physically 196 years old, but due to time traveling, he is arguably 252 years old mentally. Although, this is only true if you interpret the X-Men franchise as a single murky timeline. [Cinefix] () has a great video explaining this.
Logan is a broken, exhausted and suicidal man who just wants everything to end. From the first scene, his mental exhaustion is apparent. Yet Jackman grounds the character and truly sheds light on the mental anguish and sadness that has overwhelmed this character. He has seen those he loved die. He has killed hundreds of people. He is just seeking death, in a way, yet he still has a purpose in helping Laura.
Logan is a depressingly beautiful film set in a believable world for a superhero movie. For the majority of it, it does not feel like a superhero movie, and it capitalizes on that. Arguably, some of the best scenes in it aren’t even action scenes. With an ending that made me shed tears, Logan is my favorite superhero film since The Dark Knight. Jackman’s last performance of the character easily made this the best X-Men film yet.