‘Logan’ Review: The Ends Justify The Means

Logan, apart from being the last Hugh Jackman performance as the titular character, is also one of the best X-Men movies that Fox has produced. The decision to go with a hard R rating pays off in spades, as Logan/Wolverine is finally able to go into the comics-inspired berserker rages with no restraint, and the end result is a spectacular, brutal, touching, and very fitting end to one of the best comic book movie performances of them all.

Logan picks up the X-Men story 12 years into the future. It’s now 2029, and the world is a much different place — one that has ties to real world issues that are plaguing us today in 2017. The southern border has huge walls, manned by armed guards, and capitalism and commercialism have run rampant to the point of pure subjugation of the consumer. The world’s mutants are no more, and only a small handful still exist. With no new mutants being born, and a Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart) who is losing his once powerful mind, Logan (Jackman) has to work as a limo driver to raise enough funds for he and Xavier, and Caliban (Stephen Merchant) to buy a boat and escape far away to a secluded island where they can live their lives peacefully away from anyone who could be hurt by their powers.

Logan Review

Logan himself is not doing too good. The adamantium that is fused to his skeleton is now poisoning him from the inside, as his healing factor is failing at his accelerated age. He self-medicates with alcohol, and is constantly battling with Caliban, a prescient albino, over his plans to take them all by boat to an island utopia to live out the rest of their days. When a Mexican nurse begins stalking Logan, he meets a young girl named Laura (Dafne Keen), who is silent and reserved, and who carries a deadly secret. Xavier senses that there is much more to Laura than what’s on the surface, and when Donald Pierce (Boyd Holbrook) and his bionically-enhanced Reavers show up hunting the girl, Logan is reluctantly drawn into one last mission to get the girl from Mexico to a rumored safe place in North Dakota.

Logan Review

Logan, Xavier, and Laura then begin the cross-country journey through the heart of America, pursued by the Reavers and the mysterious Dr. Rice (Richard E. Grant, last seen in the end credits scene in X-Men: Apocalypse), and they leave a trail of death and destruction in their wake. On this journey, we learn what happened to the X-Men, and the world’s mutants. We see Charles Xavier slipping further and further into the bowels of dementia, and with his near-omniscient psychic powers, that is not a good thing. And we constantly see Logan coming to grips with who he is, and what he has done over the years. Add to that a little girl with the same skill set, and even adamantium claws, and Logan is reminded over and over that his actions have consequences, and the devil is finally due.

Logan is a road picture, with hints of classic westerns thrown in for context. Pierce and his Reavers are relentless, and capturing Laura is of the utmost importance. When Logan and crew come across a family of farmers in Oklahoma, Logan gets to see what a quiet simple life could have been, and it is a reminder that haunts him until the film’s bittersweet ending, when Logan gives all that he has to aid Laura in her quest of salvation.

Logan Review

James Mangold (The Wolverine, 3:10 To Yuma) once again directs, based off a script that he wrote with Michael Green and Scott Frank, and based on a story by the director and David James Keller. This story is loosely based on three popular Wolverine comic stories, the biggest being the “Old Man Logan” arc. By utilizing all three stories, Mangold is able to stuff Logan with many great ideas, and then cut away what didn’t work in the original comic stories.

Logan is also the finest performance by Jackman in the role. This Logan hurts; all of the time. He’s haunted by his past. He feels guilty that he’s still here while the other X-Men are all gone. And all he wants to do is to protect Charles, out of respect of who Xavier once was and not the failing man he is now, by getting him somewhere safe to live out the rest of his days. When Logan is drawn back into the fight, he feels pain. His healing factor is now painfully slow and every move is excruciating. But he pushes through it, and the audience feels that and pushes with him.

Logan Review

Very early on, Logan stopped being about a hero doing heroic things, and became more of a story of a hero that we all wished could find peace and finally leave the fighting behind. This is the purest form of the magic that Mangold, Jackman, and Stewart bring to the production. Logan is the punctuation of any and all superhero stories. It answers the age old comic book question: What happens after the spandex comes off?

Logan is shockingly violent and very, very brutal. Every bit of the R rating is left on the screen, as Wolverine eviscerates his enemies, and pops F-bombs as much as he pops claws while doing it. Even Charles Xavier drops a bomb here and there. These are some of the best fight scenes of any comic book movie, and at times it was gleefully unsettling to watch. I’ve read X-Men comics now for over 30 years, and Wolverine has always been a part of the team that I grew up with. I too wanted to see him go off and be, well, Wolverine, but now that I’ve seen it, I have bloodlust guilt. Mangold and Jackman were given a blank check, and they filled it with a great many bloody zeroes, for better or worse.

Logan Review

Logan is the end of a great run of performances by a very talented actor — one who will always be remembered as “Plan B” in the greater context of the X-Men films (has anyone seen or heard from Dougray Scott lately?). Jackman took his golden opportunity and created an indelible mark on not only the film industry, but even the source comics. Inevitably, Fox will reboot the X-Men franchise, and the character will be recast, but I’m not sure now, after 17 years, anyone can ever truly fill Jackman’s mutton chops. Hugh Jackman, was, is, and always will be The Wolverine. And Logan is the perfect final act of that incredible run.

Logan is rated R and is in theaters on March 3.

Logan Review
out of 5

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