While I was on holidays, I went to see Logan. I had the entire cinema to myself (woot!) and settled in for Hugh Jackman’s final performance as everyone’s favourite anti-hero, Wolverine. And I wasn’t disappointed.
Set some years into the (near) future, mutants are near extinct. Logan is driving a limo to earn money, and caring for an ageing Charles. But things take a turn with the unexpected arrival of Laura (played by Dafne Keen), a young girl with Wolverine’s same adamantium claws and healing abilities. Initially Logan wants nothing to do with her, but soon finds himself thrust into the unwanted role of her protector, whilst being hunted by mercenaries who want Laura for their own purposes. However, this isn’t just another hero film. Unlike the previous films set in the X-Men universe, Logan is less about hero vs villain (though there is that, of course), and more a kind of raw, serious insight into one of the series’ most popular characters. I think this is evident straight away in the title – and with the Wolverine moniker dropped almost entirely throughout the film. But right from the opening scene, in which an aged Logan takes on a gang of thugs in a violent and bloody showdown, it is clear to the viewer that this is going to be a completely different X-Men experience.
Honestly, with the absence of almost any of the other mutants we’ve become so familiar with, it’s difficult to really see Logan as part of the same franchise. And it is somewhat confusing as to when, and in which timeline this film falls. Any of you familiar with the comics, and previous films will know that this whole timeline issue is convoluted and complicated. But Hugh Jackman attempted to shed some light on this new, dystopian reality prior to the film’s release, being quoted as saying “Not only is [Logan] different in terms of timeline and tone, it’s a slightly different universe. It’s actually a different paradigm and that will become clear … It’s a stand alone movie in many ways. It’s not really beholden to timelines and storylines in the other movies.” In this regard, I think it’s almost easier to consider this film as a singular, one off movie, rather than a follow up to any of the previous films.
Aside from being a much more sombre affair than anything preceding it, this film tackles some serious themes too; perhaps most notably, the inevitability of time, and death. And not just superhero death, where someone comes to save the day and everything is alright. We’re talking the very real passing of time, and the effects it has. Both Charles and Logan have aged, and previous events hinted at throughout the film have left them both weary and, in many ways, broken. These are the characters we know, but they are different, changed in irreparable ways. There are underlying tones of regret throughout the film, as well as a kind of quiet sorrow, which both Jackman and Stewart convey effortlessly. And it was affecting, in ways I wasn’t expecting. This film is like watching a loved one slowly die, and knowing there is nothing you can do to stop or slow it.
But don’t get me wrong; this isn’t a tear jerker or sorrow fest – far from it. With its initial R rating, Logan uses, to great effect, some serious comic book violence. It is brutal, and in some cases filmed in slow motion (which is always awesome, let’s face it), and exactly the kind of thing fans have been waiting to see from Wolverine. Plus, there is curse words aplenty, and though a seemingly small thing, it gives a kind of realness to the film. Makes the whole thing a bit more gritty. Even Laura’s character adds to this; she is a child, yes, but there is a seriousness to her, a kind of fierceness that almost makes you forget that she isn’t another adult.
I think there could be no more fitting end to Hugh Jackman’s run as Wolverine than this movie. It was everything he had ever wanted to do with the character, and everything we had been hoping to see. Poignant, violent, visceral, and utterly brilliant. What are you still reading for? Go and see it for yourself.