- on Monday, 06 March 2017 09:11
- by Christopher Symonds
It has been well known for some time that Hugh Jackman is leaving his career making turn as the X-Men character Wolverine behind. After seventeen years regimenting his diet and sculpting a rather impressive super hero physique, he set to task with director James Mangold (the director of his last solo outing The Wolverine) to give the world his all in playing old mutton chops one last time. But what did that mean? Jackman, a hard working actor, who has always been gracious and grateful for the opportunities this character provided him, has never given anything but his all. But despite that dedication, depending on the eight previous movies’ creative participants and the studio that backed them, the end product had always been a bit of a mixed bag.
It is a long time since the X-Men movies started, and in those following near two decides we have been treated to (and sometimes cursed by) a litany of super hero films, to the point now where they represent the lion’s share of studio tent poles every year. In short, we are spoiled for choice. But we are also seeing fatigue in the repetition of respective franchises constantly throwing out sequel after sequel that really tell the same story the same way. Studios notoriously stick to tried and true formulas until the cow is milked dry. And at the budget some of these pictures cost, one can hardly blame them. But bravery, risk, is where the standouts always spawn from. It just takes a while for the studios to throw that Hail Mary.
Last year, Deadpool got the chance to finally break the mould, in terms of the parameters in which these stories are able to be told. It will be seen as that Hail Mary. But this reviewer is here to tell you, Logan has doubled down in the bravery stakes.
This ninth film in the X-Men franchise is a spectacular risk, and is nothing like you have ever seen before in this genre. I think all participants, from Jackman to the studio, knew the writing was on the wall. The previous few entries were competently made, but just more of the same and, at the end of the day, garnered no more passion from the audience than a shrug of the shoulders. The reaction from all involved this time was to give you something new. Logan is unequivocally new, an anti-superhero movie. And the Wolverine was the perfect character to tell this story.
It is going to be difficult to examine this film’s impressive depth without spoilers (of which there will be none) but this reviewer will do his merry all.
Based on the comic story Old Man Logan, this one takes its cues from dystopian films of yore and especially old westerns. Set in the near future, mutants are all but wiped away. There are no costumes, no heroics, and man has well and truly won the day. Our former X-Man is now driving a limo and is a shadow of his former self; he is sick, he is aging and he is very bitter. An old mentor has become a danger to everyone around him, and Logan is desperately trying to keep them safe off the grid and saving enough to pay for an escape. But best laid plans and all that. A young girl is put in Logan’s path and unwillingly he is dragged into a path of salvation. Salvation for her or for him? I’ll leave that to the film.
This is the Wolverine story we have been waiting for. Gone are the form fitting suits and impressing light shows, the polished hallways, garish villains and gimmicks. And this serves as a visual metaphor, as does the film’s title, that this is a story stripped down to allow character not plot to have the spotlight this time. Spectacle is out; introspection and social relevance are in. There are consequences to being in this world that relate on a visceral, human level. You feel for these characters and their plight in a way that hasn’t been accomplished in the other entries. Any element present in this picture serves the characters.
This film borrows heavily from stories like Mad Max and The Unforgiven, the dialogue from the first sentences uttered tells you this isn’t going to be the same as before. There is a real sense of peril this time, removing the idea very quickly from its narrative that the good guys will always come out on top. It is eloquently placed into the film via the use of comic books and lines about perception versus reality, as well as what befalls some characters trying to do good in a world of bad. If it sounds dour, it is. You will not leave this film uplifted, and yet there is a truth within Logan’s journey that is honourable, even admirable.
There is plenty of action, but it’s grounded as much as its characters. Having an R Rating certainly allows the violent nature of its protagonist to be portrayed in way that was never possible before and it’s a more truthful film for it. The rating also allows for the antagonists to truly attain revulsion from its audience quickly.
Long ago, the western was the go to genre for audiences. And long after that genre had been saturated, diminished by the more of the same practices the studios always employ; Clint Eastwood gave the world The Unforgiven. If this is truly the last time we see Hugh Jackman portray this character, then he has just accomplished the same thing in the superhero genre. There are going to be dozens of other flicks of this ilk in just a couple of years, but I doubt any will have earned the respect of Logan. It is head and shoulders above anything this particular franchise has ever accomplished. It is a masterpiece, and the best possible goodbye and actor could hope for after playing a character for so long. It is brave, it is hard earned, and it is one for the history books.
MPAA Rating: R for strong brutal violence and language throughout, and for brief nudity
Runtime: 137 mins
Director: James Mangold
Writer: Scott Frank
Cast: Hugh Jackman, Patrick Stewart, Dafne Keen
Genre: Action | Drama
Tagline: His time has come.
Memorable Movie Quote: "The world is not the same as it was, Charles. Mutants... they're gone now."
Theatrical Distributor: Twentieth Century Fox
Official Site: http://www.foxmovies.com/movies/logan
Release Date: March 4, 2017
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date: No details available.
Synopsis: Set in the future of 2024, Logan and Professor Charles Xavier must cope with the loss of the X-Men when a corporation lead by Nathaniel Essex is destroying the world leaving it to destruction, with Logan's healing abilities slowly fading away and Xavier's Alzheimer's forcing him to forget. Logan must defeat Nathaniel Essex with the help of a young girl named Laura Kinney, a female clone of Wolverine.
No details available