Anyone who has read even a modicum of my superhero coverage on DrunkSunshine knows I’m not particularly fond of the recent output from the Marvel or DC Universe. Over the last 3+ years I’ve come to mostly loathe the cookie cutter nature of each plot, the dull character developments and predictable action beats. There have been exceptions (Guardians of the Galaxy, Deadpool) that haven’t exactly broken the mold but at least messed with the playdough. In fact, most of the interesting superhero stories have moved to cable or Netflix (Luke Cage, Jessica Jones, and Legion to name a few.) The medium has allowed for richer storytelling and deeper themes to go along with the face punches.
But with Logan we have something different. Hugh Jackman has been playing the Wolverine for nearly 15-years. We know exactly who his character is, what makes him tick and…ahem, release them adamantium claws. It helps that Jackman so fully embodies the character that they are impossible to separate (although I’m sure that won’t stop Hollywood from trying.) For good (X2, The Wolverine) and horrifyingly bad (X-Men Origins: Wolverine) we are invested. In a weird way Wolverine has received the TV treatment.
It’s hard to accurately describe how much different Logan feels while embracing the entirely familiar. The Wolverine is broken. His alcoholism has taken hold. He spends his days driving a limousine close to the border while his nights go deep into Mexico to deliver medication to Professor X (Patrick Stewart.) Xavier is not well, drugged within an inch of his life as his beautiful mind has been declared a dangerous weapon by the government. He’s lost control. It’s unclear why Logan continues to do this considering how annoying it seems to him but he can’t tear himself away from his only paternal figure.
One evening a young mutant called Pierce (Boyd Holbrook) approaches Logan’s limo but he’s not looking for him, he’s trying to wrangle someone else, a little girl. That little girl’s name is Laura (Dafne Keen) and she bears more than a passing resemblance to the Wolverine. As it turns out Laura is the last of a very small group of tween mutants, created in a lab who have escaped and are on the run to the Canadian border (a supposed safe space.) With the help of two of the OG mutants, they just might get there.
Now, you may have heard, Logan possesses the sweet R-rating that we movie fans absolutely deserve. The film never revels in it (Save for some bare breasts and a few amazing, claw-to-head stabs that had the audience wincing) instead using it to provide a level of voracity and teeth few (if any) superhero films possess. The action is beautifully choreographed and intense. The set pieces never get too big, the camera stays tight and the editing precise. You feel every slash, stab and gunshot.
Speaking of smallness, Logan is an epic but the scope is never too big. No buildings collapse, no cities rise into the air, the focus (FOR ONCE) is on the characters and their relationships. Jackman, Stewart and the newcomer Keen are so affecting together they elicit more than a few dusty theater moments. The quiet, the stillness is what you’ll remember.
This is James Mangold’s second Wolverine film and he is right at home. He hinted at what he could do in the harrowing opening sequence in The Wolverine but this is on another level. He has made a film in Logan that has more in common with No Country for Old Men than any superhero movie since The Dark Knight. It’s a harrowing, poignant and beautiful sendoff to a beloved character. I cannot believe I’m saying that and can’t wait to experience it again.