written by Justin Prince (@prince_justin)
Redemption is a remarkable thing, it has the distinct characteristic of making right what the past does wrong. In many respects, it takes a passing of the torch to make things right… after the Batman films spiraled down a campy and frustrating path, it took Christopher Nolan and his down to earth take on the Caped Crusader to make right the bat-nipples and Val Kilmer’s wooden acting. For the Wolverine character, though he shone as part of an ensemble cast in the X-Men films, it was his solo films that left much to be desired. The criminally abysmal X-Men Origins: Wolverine and the fiercely mediocre The Wolverine didn’t do the character justice… but with Logan we have Hugh Jackman’s final film in the claws, so does it deliver where so many have failed to?
Set in the not too distant future, the film’s timeline doesn’t seem connected to the current films in the X-Men series (more on that in a companion piece I plan to write), but mind you I felt that was a good thing. Logan has become a shell of his former self, the X-Men are long gone with mutant kind on the brink of extinction. Logan is caring for an aging Charles Xavier when a young mutant girl with the same penchant for regeneration as Logan (and complete with Adamantium claws) is thrust on the aging superheroes.
The young girl, Laura, is revealed to be a part of a secret project (sound familiar) set on creating an army of mutant soldiers from the womb up. When a nurse from the facility takes pity on these children and helps in freeing them, she comes to Logan in hopes that some part of him still remembers what it’s like to be a hero. Time has not been kind to both Logan and Charles, both men are at dire ends. For Logan, his regeneration has slowed dramatically and wounds that healed in mere seconds now take days. As for Charles Xavier, though he has one of the greatest minds in the X-Men mythos… that mind saddled with a degenerative disease is like strapping a detonation mechanism made of duct tape on an atomic bomb. Logan cares for Charles and his plan is to buy a boat and live out the remainder of their old age in the middle of the ocean.
Logan plays out as beautifully filmed as it was brutal. The R-rated violence faces a welcome juxtaposition set against a family narrative. Though initially Logan doesn’t see Laura as anything more than a job… this changes as the two spend more time together and they both realize just how alike they are. While traveling, the trio seem more like a gruff single dad road-tripping with his nonagenarian father and young daughter. The visceral brutality of the film’s action sequences are broken up with some genuinely touching scenes. One moment that stuck out to me was when they were taken in by a nice rural family they helped out along the highway. Though the road has been rough… and the road following just gets rougher… for this very brief moment they seemed like a family. When Logan lifted a frail Charles Xavier out of his wheelchair to put him to bed I nearly lost it. While Deadpool managed to perfectly balance the comedy with over the top violence… Logan approaches a similar take on violence but balancing it with heart.
Though the villains do make a film, I felt that the focus on Logan and the figurative passing of the torch made for a much better focal point than an antagonist would have. While the villains were good, and the surprising final villain (no spoilers), added a layer of self reflection to the film… I was glad that they weren’t what the filmmakers focused on. Logan didn’t need to throw so much into their villains since telling the story of the titular the man himself made for a solid narrative.
When I left the theater, I dealt with a myriad of conflicting emotions. I was still high on the amazing film I had just watched, but at the same time I was sad to see Hugh Jackman go. For 17 years he was the face of Wolverine. Though initially I was conflicted, Jackman being too tall and handsome to be the Wolverine I knew from the comics, he owned that role and made him an icon. To me, Logan wasn’t just an amazing comic book film… rather it was an amazing… film… period. This film was an experience… and one that perfectly bookends Hugh Jackman’s time as the Wolverine.