Release Date: March 3, 2017
Studio: 20th Century Fox
Director: James Mangold
Release Format: Theatrical
The X-Men film franchise has had a rocky history, to say the least. In addition, so have the Wolverine spinoffs. However, there is one absolute that everyone can agree on; Hugh Jackman was born to play Wolverine. He has portrayed the character in a total of nine feature films. Jackman has done such a magnificent job that it’s practically impossible to see anyone else take up the mantle. The newest film in this franchise, Logan, marks the third Wolverine spinoff film. But that’s not all. It also marks the very last time Jackman will play the character. The actor even took a pay-cut so that he could ensure Logan would have an R-Rating. We are all sad to see him go but sadly, all good things must come to an end.
Logan takes place in the future year of 2029, where mutants are all but extinct. Many aren’t left and Logan (Hugh Jackman) is hiding out in El Paso with an ailing Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart) and Caliban (Stephen Merchant). However, bad luck finds them when they meet Laura (Dafne Keen), a mutant being hunted by a cyborg bounty hunter (Boyd Holbrook) and his legion of Reavers. Logan soon discovers that Laura (X-23 to the initiated) is actually his daughter (long story) and embarks on one last mission to ensure her survival. What follows is a story of mortality, survival, identity and heartache as we watch Jackman portray the beloved character one last time.
So, how does Logan stack up against the rest? Is it the best Wolverine film? Does it contain everything we wanted to see? As an answer for all of those questions, I’m going to say “kind of”. I’ve seen so many reviews this week declaring this movie a masterpiece. Some said it should be nominated for Best Picture. Listen, guys, if none of the Nolan Batman’s were nominated for Best Picture, I seriously doubt Logan has a shot. Now, I’m in no way saying this is a bad movie. On the contrary, it is a great movie. However, even with everything that I loved about it, there were so many other things I couldn’t help but find underwhelming. Most of these issues stem from the script but we’ll get to that later. First, let’s focus on positives.
I have never seen performances this good regarding the other films in this franchise. Logan contains not a single bad performance. Do I even have to praise Jackman at this point? He IS Wolverine and he actually manages to bring something new to the table this time. Jackman portrays and old and weathered Logan who has been through so much and is slowly dying. Here, Logan is forced to face his own mortality, revealing sides to him we have never seen. The introduction of X-23 into his life is something that makes Logan such a heartfelt journey to behold. It is handled in the best ways possible. I challenge you to find anything wrong with it.
I can easily say the same for Patrick Stewart as Charles Xavier and his relationship with Logan. These two have had a remarkable history over the years. To Patrick Stewart guiding Logan in the first film to Logan doing the same for him in Days Of Future Past. There is an unmistakable bond of respect and compassion between these two characters and the film takes full advantage of this. Now, I won’t reveal spoilers in this review but I will say that there is a reason the X-Men are no longer around. A reason that may or may not have had something to do with Xavier. It’s something that causes tension between Xavier and Logan throughout the film, as you see Xavier in a broken state of mind constantly. If you ever wondered what a telepath with Alzheimer’s looks like, Logan certainly delivered.
While both Stewart and Jackman delivered Grade-A performances in Logan, neither of them steal the show. That honor goes to Dafne Keen who absolutely killed it as the vicious X-23. This is Keen’s first film but watching her, you’d never believe it. She has such a presence, such a disciplined acting style and such great chemistry with Jackman. She is by far the best thing in the film. I am not joking when I say that Keen, Jackman, and Stewart all give performances worthy of Oscar consideration. Keen plays a ferocious and mistreated character, robbed of any real semblance of a childhood. She was created to be a weapon and she is exactly what Wolverine used to be; an animal.
However, what this movie does so brilliantly is build this character. While she does start out as a ferocious mute who has no problem cutting off heads, we get to see a more human side to her as the film progresses. She learns and develops more emotion on her journey with Logan and Xavier. She learns what being a child is and what having a family is, something that was never in the cards for her before. It’s seeing this character progress in such a unique way that makes Laura all the more memorable. With that said, even after these emotions develop, she still has no problem returning to her animalistic nature to protect those she cares about. X-23 is not just the best character in this movie, she is one of the best X-Men characters ever adapted to film.
What I also appreciated was that they didn’t sexualize the character. Let me explain: Do me a favor and look up the character from the comics. Laura Kinney is supposed to be much older than the 9-year old shown in Logan. This version is also much younger than originally conceived in X-Men: Evolution. With that said, it would have been so easy for director James Mangold to cast an up and coming teenage actress with huge knockers to portray X-23 to bring in more of a perv teen demographic. This is something that Brett Ratner and Michael Bay would have done had either been at the helm. But Mangold and c0-writer Scott Frank decided against that, making the character younger and focusing more on the character herself rather than how she looks. Thank You!
Also, just to clarify, this film is not for the squeamish. Logan is one of the bloodiest comic book movies ever made. It would be the bloodiest if Zack Snyder’s 300 didn’t exist. With that said, I loved every bloody moment in it. I have been reading Wolverine comics for years and have been dying for an adaptation that shows the sheer ferocity of what Wolverine can do. Not only did Logan deliver that, it gave me X-23 doing the same thing. Now that I think about it, I’m pretty sure she spilled more blood than he did in this film. There were so many decapitations and heads being impaled by claws that the faint of heart may want to skip out at a certain point. Hugh Jackman certainly wasn’t kidding around when he took a pay-cut for this film to be Rated-R.
Logan exploits its R-Rating, in the vein of Deadpool (but no fourth wall jokes… sorry guys). If you ever wanted to see Xavier drop F-Bombs left and right as a curmudgeonly old fart, this film has officially granted your wish. The direction and cinematography are absolutely superb. There was not a single bad shot in this movie. It all looks breathtaking. Even the scenes in the desert look absolutely gorgeous. James Mangold pulled out all the stops and delivered a beautifully crafted movie that oozed with the atmosphere in every frame. Mangold also managed to make this journey Wolverine’s most emotional experience to date. The final scene, in particular, was so heartwarming and emotional that my friend and I were crying well into the credits. No after credits scene, by the way. Bummer!
Now that I have praised this movie, seemingly to no end, let’s get into what didn’t work. Well, for starters, the villains in this film are all laughably terrible. While Mangold and his writing team certainly gave enough depth and development to the heroes, it seems almost no attention was paid to the villains. They are all so bland, boring, emotionless and unmemorable. Most of them were just generic commandoes called Reavers that were trying to capture Laura. They left no impact and just came off as canon fodder for Logan and X-23 to dig their claws into. No pun intended.
There’s also a doctor (Richard E. Grant), who was supposed to be portraying Dr. Zander Rice. Now, Zander Rice is in the comics but he has an exchange with Wolverine in Logan, where they discuss how Rice’s father gave Wolverine his claws. This, of course, was true of the comics to a certain degree, but certainly not the films. In the films, we established that William Stryker gave Wolverine his claws. Rice can’t be Stryker’s son. Stryker’s son died in X2: X-Men United. This is one of many continuity issues in Logan’s runtime, something the X-Men film series is sadly famous for. You could make a drinking game out of the continuity issues in this film series and you’d be dead from alcohol poisoning halfway through X-Men Origins.
The only one who was kind of interesting was Boyd Holbrook’s character. Holbrook brought some charisma to his role and didn’t bother me too much. However, notice how I don’t call him by his character name. Would you like to know why? I don’t remember it. And no, I should not have to look on IMDB just to remember a character’s name. Holbrook did fine, he just had virtually no character to work with. However, none of this compares to a villain that appears in the latter half of the film. I won’t spoil what the character is or who the character is. But I will say that he is not a character from the comics. It is the last person we will see Wolverine face on the big screen and it’s a character who is completely made up and pulled out of someone’s butt. That’s just depressing.
Also, because the character comes so far out of left field, it really takes away from the tension of the final fight. This leaves the climax of the film feeling underwhelming as a result. Personally, I felt this was a golden opportunity to bring back Sabretooth (Liev Schreiber). I don’t care how many people hate X-Men Origins: Wolverine, Liev Schreiber was a perfect Sabretooth. If Wolverine’s last fight on screen is with anyone, it should be with his arch-enemy. It should be with someone who would actually give the fight the emotional punch and dignity it deserves. Even Omega Red would have been more satisfying than this. Case and Point, the final boss was awful, ill-conceived and it’s hard for me, as a longtime X-Men fan, to ignore.
One last gripe with the film is Caliban. Not because the character was bad, but because he was so good and the film barely used him. Granted he has a bigger part and is certainly utilized better here than he was in X-Men: Apocalypse (and played by a better actor, I might add). However, the film does so little with him and the way he’s used through most of it has him come off more as a plot device than an actual character. It just felt like a waste of someone who could have been interesting to explore further.
Overall, Logan was the R-Rated Wolverine movie we wanted, even if it wasn’t perfect. It has glaring flaws, mostly due to the script. However, the performances, the cinematography, the emotional weight and the way the film paints such a vivid portrait of its beloved characters, makes Logan a beautiful experience regardless. It may not be the best written X-Men movie but, for what it’s worth, it is the best acted and directed X-Men movie. If that isn’t praised for this series, I don’t know what is. Lastly, Hugh Jackman, I want to thank you for all the years of dedication you gave to our favorite Canadian mutant. I wish you could play him for another two decades. However, if you must go, we’re all happy to see you go out on such a high note.
Long Live, Logan! The Wolverine!
- The Best Acting Of The Franchise
- Dafne Keen As X-23
- Gorgeous Cinematography
- The Darkest X-Men Movie
- Brutal Violence
- A Meaningful Story
- A Touching Ending
- Boring Villains
- Glaring Continuity Issues
- Wolverine's Final Battle And Foe Are Both Incredibly Underwhelming
- Needed More Caliban
A graduate of Full Sail University with a Bachelors Degree in Creative Writing, Adam is a Writer and Film Critic, looking to make his mark on the world. When he isn’t at the movies, writing for The Nerd Stash, playing Duck Hunt (respect the classics) or delivering pizzas to his neighbors, he is back at school earning his Masters Degree in Film Production.