Hugh Jackman has played Wolverine for 17 years and now he is hanging up his claws for the final time. Logan has long been one of my favourite ever superheroes and I’ve watched him in the X-Men films and subsequent spin-offs since before I was a teenager. Jackman is now the longest running actor to play a superhero and the aptly titled, Logan (2017), couldn’t have been a more fitting final film for both actor and character.
Director: James Mangold
Starring: Hugh Jackman, Patrick Stewart, Dafne Keen, Boyd Holbrook, Stephen Merchant, Richard E. Grant
In the year 2029, we find a weary Logan working as a chauffeur and caring for an ailing Charles Xavier somewhere over the Mexican border. Logan and Charles are hiding from the world, however, their attempts to escape their former identities are overturned by the arrival of an eleven-year-old girl named Laura and the men trying to capture her.
This is an X-Men film like we’ve never seen before. It has an indie quality and plays out almost like a western, with frequent nods to Shane throughout. We see Logan at his loneliest and most vulnerable — emotionally and physically. Of course, it comes as no surprise that Jackman and Stewart are as good as they’ve always been, if not better. After nearly two decades of watching these heroes on-screen, it is heartbreaking to see Logan ageing and witness Charles being failed by his own brilliant mind, but there is still fight in them both. Their scenes together are particularly moving and the film is never better than when it’s just Jackman, Stewart and newcomer, Keen, sharing the screen.
Thanks to Deadpool’s success, Logan has been given an R-rating and it is the bloodiest and most violent film the X-Men Universe has offered us yet. It is certainly fitting for the last film that Logan is finally able to unleash the full beast within and we get to see just how nasty he can be. There are a lot of deaths and there is a lot of blood and in the words of Wolverine himself: “what I do best isn’t very nice.” It may not be very nice, but where Logan succeeds is that it makes you feel every swipe of those adamantium claws.
The only problem with the film is that the villains aren’t up to scratch. We have Boyd Holbrook as Donald Pierce — leader of the Reavers and sent to hunt Laura — and Richard E. Grant as Zander Rice, a mysterious surgeon and the puppet master behind Pierce and the Reavers. I was very excited to see Holbrook in the film and, despite an underwritten role, he performed well. Grant’s character, however, barely made an impression, although Rice was given a nice little tie-in with X-Men: Apocalypse. While the lack of a good villain is somewhat disappointing, in all honesty, it really doesn’t matter. This film is about Logan and the years of pain and hardship he’s had to carry.
“What is Logan frightened of? It clearly isn’t a villain, and it clearly isn’t the end of the world, and it isn’t death. What he’s most frightened of is love. So it makes sense to me that he will be pushing away love in its purist form: in a family sense.” — James Mangold
I remember reading this interview with James Mangold and thinking how true it was and, especially, after everything Logan has lost over the years. It makes sense that he would push Laura away, even in his loneliest state. Villains and bad guys don’t truly concern the journey of the film. It is the journey of the man we have cared about for so long and our hopes that he finally finds something resembling peace.
Newcomer Dafne Keen was simply fantastic as Laura/X-23. Without uttering a word for two-thirds of the film, she manages to hold her own alongside Jackman and Stewart; no easy feat, especially for someone so young. Her scenes with Jackman are tender and incredibly moving but, when her claws come out, she is just as deadly as her male counterpart.
Dark, violent and incredibly emotional; Logan is a brilliant film and the perfect farewell to a much loved character and the actor that has portrayed him for so long. Finally, the Wolverine has received the film he so richly deserves and it’s only fitting that the best was saved ’til last.
The X-Men Universe is still full of remarkable actors but it simply won’t be the same anymore without Jackman. If they ever do decide to cast a new Wolverine, that actor will have some very big shoes to fill. It’ll be hard for any X-Men fan to possibly think of anyone but him in the role.
Thank you, Hugh Jackman, for 17 years of Wolverine.
“Nature made me a freak. Man made me weapon. And God made it last too long.”
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