Movie Review: Logan
R | 2h 17min
Director: James Mangold
Stars: Hugh Jackman, Patrick Stewart, Dafne Keen
by Jason Koenigsberg
An eloquent final chapter to a character that has meant so much to millions of comic book fans and one talented and hard working actor who has played him for seventeen years. Hugh Jackman first rose to prominence from an unknown Australian actor to an international household name playing Logan/Wolverine in the very first X-Men (2000). Now in Logan he plays Wolverine as a gruff, crotchety loner as he always has. Yet this time he made the iconic hero a little older, slower and grumpier. Which is fitting because the real enemy in Logan is time. Jackman has earned every right to interpret this character however he sees fit since for nearly the past two decades he has been the only actor and human incarnation of the beloved mutant.
Director James Mangold has helmed three Hugh Jackman pictures, Kate and Leopold (2001), The Wolverine (2013) and now Logan which is easily the best of the solo Wolverine films. He and Jackman deconstructed the character and made the movie they both wanted to serve as a swan song for a the most famous mutant of the X-Men. They also add in some obvious anti-Trump political commentary throughout. Jackman and Mangold were able to interpret their character and tell the story the way they did with intense, bloody violence and because of the success of last years Deadpool, which showed the studios that they can have profitable R-rated Marvel movies. Logan also manages to throw in some humor here and there, not nearly as much as Deadpool, but enough sparsely to not detract from the serious narrative.
The film opens up without the 20th Century Fox and Marvel logos, but instead with feet walking on a dirty city street. The audience is then treated to a nice little ruse that I would not dare spoil. Throughout Logan we see subtle references to the previous X-Men and Wolverine films. The close up shots focus on the wear and tear of the aging characters faces and the harshness they have received from their long and violent lives. The photography has a darkness to it giving Logan a film noir-esque quality. The wide shots feature beautiful, scenic shots of desert cinematography. This works perfectly with the mood James Mangold was trying to emphasize making Logan feel like an old western picture, Shane (1953) in particular will come to mind. In fact Mangold directed a great modern western the 3:10 to Yuma remake (2007). In some ways Logan feels like the perfect James Mangold movie because it even features Johnny Cash in the closing credits and Mangold also directed Walk the Line (2005) the Oscar winning Johnny Cash biopic.
The greatest aspect of Logan are the performances from it’s lead actors. Hugh Jackman is great as always respectfully giving the character that made his career a proper send off. Patrick Stewart is back as Professor X, this time playing him as an old drug addict going through rehab and withdrawal. Stewart recently stated that he will not be reprising his X-Men character in future movies either and he gives Charles Xavier an equally fitting farewell. The other performance that needs to be commended is Dafne Keen as the young mutant girl that Logan must protect. Without giving any spoilers away, rest assured her character is intensely compelling, incredibly well acted and served as the heart of the film. All three leads are excellent and there is not a single aspect that they could have done to improve their performances.
Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for any of the minor characters. Everyone else in Logan feels like generic stock characters from any other movie and forgettable villains that are interchangeable with antagonists from virtually any other recent action film. Those weak actors did bring the movie down a few notches. Logan also could have been trimmed down a few minutes. Some scenes in the middle were not as interesting as they should have been.
Ultimately, Logan is an intense movie with great performances and powerful themes that resonate throughout. Logan is really about saving our future. Touching upon the political subtext mentioned earlier, Wolverine is protecting the young girl who is also a mutant with adamantium claws. He along with Professor X, and all the adult characters in Logan represent the older generation and how they messed our planet up both fiscally and environmentally. The baby boomers need to do something drastic to save us and make up for the mess our children are going to inherit. Logan is not only anti-Trump but points the finger at all of our poor leadership that has made the world a worse place than it was for the previous generation.