After nearly two decades as the most famous mutant in comics, Hugh Jackman is bowing out of playing #Wolverine, alongside Patrick Stewart as Professor Charles Xavier. Jackman is among the longest running superhero actors, and not since Adam West has a performer been tied so closely to one comic book creation. Frankly, it's something of a small miracle, as he was originally meant to be played by Dougray Scott, but Jackman replaced last minute on the first 'X-Men'.
His swansong, loosely adapted from Mark Millar's (Kick-Ass, Kingsman) 'Old Man #Logan' comic and directed and co-written by James Manigold, is set in the near future of 2029, where an aging Logan is slowly losing his powers and tending to a sickly Charles Xavier.
He is roped into transporting a mysterious girl to North Dakota after a Mexican woman begs for his help. As it turns out, the child is a mutant and very much wanted by nefarious powers.
'Logan' benefits from high calibre artistry
Jackman has been loyally devoted to the character for many years, and gives his most mature performance to date as a weakened, grizzled Wolverine. His mannerisms, his face, his body language convey a man badly beaten down by the world, always trying to do the right thing and seldom being rewarded for it. Likewise, we see Stewart as a more irritable, slightly lucid Xavier compared to past films, now slowly his intellect to illness and age. It's a tragic but touching showing. Young Dafne Keen as X-23/Laura is this film's Chloe Grace Moretz; a fantastic young actress and capable action star who manages to do a lot with relatively little. She has few lines and even less of an arc, but she controls the screen every time she's on.
Manigold backs this up with incredibly restrained direction and a bleak cinematography style that hammers in the surprisingly defeatist tone of the film, and a good amount of blood in the fights that feels realistic and warranted is just icing on the cake.
Marco Beltrami's score, likewise, is equally pulled back on big heroic themes and action beats, and instead functions more as mood music to enhance, rather than dictate, the emotional content of scenes. Subtlety is more the name of the game this time around, and it works very well.
'Logan' is not like other 'X-Men' films
This is more firmly a superhero drama with action elements than a full blown action blockbuster, containing probably the smallest amount of action since Ang Lee's 'Hulk' (2003). Those looking for a fun romp with Wolverine are better off with the extended edition of 2013's 'The Wolverine', as this is very much a tale of hopelessness and personal loss. Even the fights are less, satisfying gore baths with Wolverine's claws, and more, unpleasant battles for survival against bigger and bigger odds.
Really, 'Logan' is more like a revisionist Western than a comic book adventure: a bleak story about past glories, finding purpose and the onset of decline, with a heavy focus on character dynamics and relationships.
The bonds between Wolverine, Xavier and Laura are the beating heart of the movie, and it can be harrowing to watch at times, but that's very much by design. It exists to be the antithesis of your stereotypical, high adventure comic book yarn, and against the optimism of the other X-Men films.
While I feel it's too early to put 'Logan' among the genre's greats like 'The Dark Knight', 'Spider-Man 2' and 'Sin City', it's still a unique and refreshing superhero film that provides a great sendoff to one of its most iconic performers. It's morbid, but has a powerful emotional core with well rounded characters and a unified vision. #Hugh Jackman