Review: James Mangold's 'Logan' is Brutal, Beautiful & Heartbreaking
by Adam Frazier
March 1, 2017
Australian actor Hugh Jackman first played the character of Wolverine back in 2000 in the film that launched the modern day, comic book blockbuster - Bryan Singer's X-Men. Now 17 years later, the Academy Award-nominated actor has inhabited the character an unprecedented nine times on the big screen — that's more times than Roger Moore suited up as James Bond or Robert Englund terrorized Elm Street as Freddy Krueger. With Logan, out in theaters everywhere on March 3rd, Jackman and director James Mangold (of Walk the Line, 3:10 to Yuma, and The Wolverine) craft something special as a means of laying to rest Jackman's iconic role: an intimate, character-driven film that is brutal, beautiful, and deeply affecting.
It's 2029 — set 50 years after the events depicted in X-Men: Days of Future Past (2014) — and mutants are nearly extinct. A despondent and depleted Logan is drinking his day away at a derelict smelting plant at the edge of an abandoned oil field near the Mexican border. There he cares for his old friend Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart), who is battling a debilitating illness that, due to his mutant abilities, threatens human and mutant-kind alike. Stewart has played Professor X an impressive seven times, and it's the extensive history between these two, both as characters in a fictional world, and as actors who have worked together for nearly two decades, that really adds to the poignancy of the story. Their companion in exile is Caliban (The Office co-creator Stephen Merchant), a pale, Nosferatu-like mutant who can sense and track other mutants. Together they form an unconventional (and extremely dysfunctional) family as Caliban cooks and cleans while the anti-social Logan seeks out medicine for his ailing mentor's worsening seizures.
Their attempts to stay hidden from a world that has passed them by abruptly end when a mysterious woman appears with an urgent plea — that Logan escort a young girl to a place up north called Eden, where mutants are said to live in peace and safety. Logan finds himself the reluctant guardian of Laura (newcomer Dafne Keen), a mutant test subject with powers like his own, and adamantium claws that spring from her hands and feet. Weakened by sickness and time, Logan is weary to play the hero once again, as his ability to heal has diminished, but when the murderous Donald Pierce (Boyd Holbrook) and his unhinged army of cybernetic Reavers arrive to retrieve the girl for Dr. Zander Rice (Richard E. Grant), the sinister geneticist who experimented on her, Wolverine is forced out of solitude and back into action.
Mangold's film isn't concerned with saving the world from the apocalypse; nor is it the kind of action-packed sci-fi adventure the X-Men franchise is known for. Rather, it's a very personal story — a road movie where the apocalypse has already happened, in which Charles, Logan, and Laura are outlaws on the run, traveling across a barren landscape in search of their own paradise. A spiritual descendant of western gunslingers like Clint Eastwood's Outlaw Josey Wales or Alan Ladd's Shane, Logan has avoided intimacy throughout his life. By robbing him of his invincibility, Mangold has made Logan more vulnerable, exposed, and — perhaps for the first time in his very long life — ready to embrace the warmth and love that comes from being part of a family.
Jackman's always had a gift for finding the humanity beneath Logan's adamantium skeleton and mutant healing factor. In his final outing as the character Wolverine, Jackman delivers an intense, nuanced, and soulful performance that brings the character full circle. The hard-charging loner with a short fuse has become a surrogate father to a girl, willing to make the ultimate sacrifice to ensure her survival. Jackman, Mangold, and co-writers Scott Frank and Michael Green have paid off one of the darkest, most complex characters in comics (and cinema) with a fitting (and definitive) end that is emotionally satisfying. And, for lifelong fans of Marvel's most famous mutant, Mangold has also delivered on showing Wolverine at his most primal, with an R-rating for strong brutal violence, language throughout, and for brief nudity.
If you've ever dreamed of seeing Wolverine go full "Berserker Rage" on someone, Logan delivers in blood-splattered spades. There's a lot of violence in the movie, which may turn off some viewers, but like Fox's massively successful Deadpool, the violence speaks to the duality of the character, someone who can rip people limb-from-limb but still find redemption in committing an act of true heroism.
In a 10-film series that has seen its share of highs (X-Men: Days of Future Past) and lows (X-Men Origins: Wolverine), Mangold's Logan is one of the best superhero movies of the modern era. Stewart, Jackman, and Keen deliver award-worthy performances, and Mangold and his cinematographer John Mathieson (of Gladiator, X-Men: First Class, Pan) create striking, resonant visuals that reflect the desolation and utter hopelessness of this post-apocalyptic future. Together, the cast and crew have raised the bar for the types of stories you can tell with superheroes, creating a film that feels much more like Rio Bravo, Terminator 2: Judgment Day or Children of Men than anything Marvel Studios and DC are currently offering. If you've ever had an attachment to Wolverine or the X-Men series, you must see Logan in theaters – it's a powerful elegy dedicated to a character that a generation of moviegoers have grown up with, and a role that we'll be hard-pressed to replace. He's the best there is at what he does, even if what he does isn't very nice.
Adam's Rating: 5 out of 5
Follow Adam on Twitter - @AdamFrazier
Damn. With buzz like this, it is a No. 1 must-see for me.
DAVIDPD on Mar 1, 2017
tarek on Mar 1, 2017
Watched it yesterday and it was damn good. Might be the best X-Men movie after X2, but it does not feel like an X-Men movie at all, and that is a good thing. And big props to the trailers for not showing the whole movie!!! The R-rating is well earned, but there is more blood than gore. And F-bombs from start to finish, fits the characters in the movie and their mood...
Enola on Mar 2, 2017
I was thinking the same thing. After a bunch of trailers that showed the whole plot of their movies I realised I didnt have much of an idea what was coming in Logan. Making a good trailer is a skill that is mostly lacking these days.
Mat Dub on Mar 7, 2017
More impressive than the number of times Jackman has played Logan is the number of ridiculous haircuts and looks Wolverine has had over the years....
TheOct8pus on Mar 2, 2017
I've already got tickets for IMAX tomorrow night. I can't wait!
David Diaz on Mar 2, 2017
Seeing it in true IMAX this evening. Anyone know what new trailers are attached to this. I have reserved seating but if it is worth sitting through 20 minutes of trailers I will get there early. Last time I went to this theater it had 4 and a half minutes of Dunkirk which was awesome!
deerosa on Mar 2, 2017
The new Alien: Covenant trailer for sure - maybe War of the Planet of the Apes? I've seen some reports of a new Wonder Woman trailer attached also...
Adam Frazier on Mar 2, 2017
Thanks for the reply. Was hoping for an exclusive Imax trailer, if one is shown I will report it.
deerosa on Mar 2, 2017
I thought it was okay, not great. Definitely a good ending to Jackman's Wolverine, but his relationship with Laura was lacking and should have been much deeper, connected, and relational for longer than when it materialized.
superultraboy on Mar 2, 2017
WOW. LOGAN was incredible man, their relationship was lacking because Logan is incapable/fearful of intimacy - the crux of the entire film. Each to their own, but I think you missed the theme that Mangold was trying to express.
OGKhyamB on Mar 3, 2017
No, I totally understood Logan's story arc, but I wanted him to get to that point of accepting Laura as his own sooner rather than later. He should have embraced Laura at Xavier's grave after lashing out at her, but he just kept doing that for the entire film. Yes, he had his redeeming moment at the end, but it was way too late into the film.
superultraboy on Mar 3, 2017
Thought it was up there with some of the best XMEN movies. Second to X2. Saw it in IMAX and there was a nice exclusive trailer before Logan. Cherry Garcia anyone?
deerosa on Mar 3, 2017
I watched intently until the attack on the Black farm family, then I about walked out. Logan's dad, Charles, is commenting, while lying in bed, that this had just been the best day...and we finally saw the little girl smile, then out come the claws! Charles is now dead! Then we find out it is at the hands of a Logan-look alike, who then proceeds to kill this nice hospitiful black family, who took them in!!! Why? Oh why? From here on out, the movie is filled with violence that involves many of these lab-produced mutant kids and no happy ending. Only mom that girl knows, dies. Girl meets grandpa, grandpa dies. Girl meets dad, dad dies! Where is our happiness? I and the rest of the audience sat, at the end, as if waiting for happiness...,does dad or grandpa heal and come back? No. We leave with no sense of accomplishment.
BootGirl70 on Mar 6, 2017
Are you being sarcastic? "Where is our happiness?" WTF? It's a tragedy there is no happiness.
Mat Dub on Mar 7, 2017
BootGirl70 on Mar 7, 2017
Your assessment of the movie is really naive. Movies aren't about happiness and happy endings. If that's what you are looking for you should just stick to Disney movies. BTW, Logan was filled with violence from the opening.
Tim Marshall on Mar 8, 2017
That is strictly you opinion and I am entitled to mine. Very melancholy for a movie! Not what I go to see movies for!
BootGirl70 on Mar 11, 2017
Sorry, new comments are no longer allowed.