Director: James Mangold
Writers: Scott Frank, James Mangold, Michael Green
Stars: Hugh Jackman, Patrick Stewart, Dafne Keen, Boyd Holbrook, Stephen Merchant
Review by Mike DeAngelo:
X-Men movies can be all over the map as far as quality goes. There’s the good (X2, X-Men: First Class, & X-Men: Days of Future Past), the bad (X-Men: The Last Stand, X-Men: Apocalypse), and the downright ugly (X-Men Origins: Wolverine). Then, there’s been some that are just OK. Wolverine’s previous solo outings (X-Men Origins: Wolverine & The Wolverine) both rank towards the very bottom of the pile, even with The Wolverine being a huge improvement over X-Men Origins: Wolverine, it was still a slow, meandering film that largely fell apart in the third act. So, when Fox announced that there would be one last solo Wolverine movie directed by the same person who directed The Wolverine (James Mangold), I didn’t have very high hopes for the final chapter in Wolverine’s saga.
Then, three things happened – 1.) Deadpool came out of nowhere to make a metric crap-ton of money and critical praise on a shoestring budget, even in the face of its R-rating. 2.) Hugh Jackman announced that this would be his last go-round as The Wolverine and that he was going to make sure that he went out on a high note. 3) Due to Deadpool’s success, Fox gave James Mangold & Hugh Jackman more creative control and the go-ahead to make Logan an R-rated final chapter.
Suddenly, all bets were off and eyebrows & hopes were effectively raised. Could this be the definitive Wolverine movie that comic book fans have been waiting for? Well, if you haven’t heard yet, the answer is a resounding hell yes!
Not only is Logan the best solo Wolverine movie, it’s the best X-Men movie…and possibly one of the best superhero movies of all time. It turns out Wolverine works even better when the PG-13 language & violence shackles are taken off. Who would’ve thought that a cranky, sharp-tongued mutant with knives coming out of his hands would benefit from a lack of aforementioned restrictions? Well, everyone but Fox, I guess.
Even without everything that comes along with an R-rating, Logan is just a better movie than the other X-Men movies, period. For one thing, it benefits heavily from being able to be a self-contained story arc with a beginning, middle, and an end. Many superhero movies just aren’t able to be their own story anymore, as they have to adhere to what has come before and set-up what comes next. Logan is a movie that can be enjoyed completely on its own because it doesn’t have those burdens.
Secondly, it’s beautifully written and largely character driven. Patrick Stewart (Professor X) and Hugh Jackman really get to reveal the guts of their characters in this final chapter. Their characters feel far more lived-in and three-dimensional. They’re messy, poetic, violent, and sometimes downright bleak. Yet, with how dark the movie is, Logan somehow manages a feeling of hope. That hope is at times literally embodied by the amazing newcomer, Dafne Keen, who plays Laura, a mysterious newcomer to the X-Men universe.
Obviously, with this being his final turn as Wolvie, Hugh Jackman leaves it all out on the field. Wolverine has never felt more fully realized in his rage and emotional volatility. It’s a performance that deserves awards attention, but will likely be overlooked due to its involvement with the superhero genre – sad, but true. The same can be said for Patrick Stewart, who is almost a completely new character compared to his other turns as the beloved Professor X.
Best of all, Logan sticks the landing with a nearly unbeatable final moment that had more than a few eyes moistened in the theater I was in. I won’t go into any further detail, but just know that it worked like a charm.
In the end, Logan is nearly perfect in its execution. It’s dark, but never miserable. It’s emotional, but never false or overly manipulative. It’s violent, but never for more than it needs to be. Most importantly, it’s about Logan – the man and not the invincible hero. It’s such a high note that you can’t help but want more. Thankfully, Hugh knows when to walk away. Thank you for the journey, Hugh. It will be difficult for Fox to re-cast or follow this one, folks…