Logan review: Hugh Jackman returns to the role of Wolverine for the final time in this genre-less epic from James Mangold.
Logan review by Paul Heath at the 2017 Berlin Film Festival.
In 2001, Hugh Jackman brought an iconic comic book character to the screen. In the 17 years since, the movies in which that character has appeared have had highs and sadly many lows, but one cannot argue that Jackman’s appeal as Wolverine has never faded.
In Logan, we are introduced to him once more, and sadly, this superhero has indeed faded, choosing to live a near solitary-like existence on the U.S./ Mexican border. We find Logan working as a chauffeur near El Paso, escorting everyone from millionaires to hen parties around town in a time where the mutants have long-gone. With an obvious addiction to alcohol, we find out in the opening scenes that Logan is caring for Charles Xavier (Sir Patrick Stewart), whose health is failing also. All of their lives change when a young girl named Laura (Dafne Keen) enters their lives, a new mutant who has similar powers to Logan, who needs to reach a far-off place called Eden, where she will be safe from the apparent band of mercenaries on her trail, all led by a mysterious man with a robot hand, Donald Pierce (Boyd Holbrook).
It’s fitting that the first word to be uttered by Hugh Jackman’s old man Logan in this watered-down superhero movies is fuck. Violent and full of naughty words from the off, as well as some brief nudity, James Mangold’s film is as impressive and refreshing as last year’s Deadpool. This obviously been a huge gamble for 20th Century Fox who retain the rights to the X-Men universe, but that huge gamble has indeed payed off. Some may say that the violence is excessive and unneeded, which in places it is, but Logan is so good in terms of its narrative and well-written characters that you soon forget about all of that. The story is so simple – it’s really just a cat and mouse movie with Holbrook’s Pierce and co. hot on the trail of Logan, Xavier and Laura for a large quantity of it.
The mood set in the trailers is lost in the film – it’s not as moody as it was first portrayed in those promos from last year. Sure, there is a lot of soul-searching from the title character, but Logan is full of no-holds-barred action, and consistent set-pieces, all of which deliver the goods. Jackman is excellent as Logan, as too is Stewart as Charles Xavier – but you already knew that. The big surprise here is the young actress Dafne Keen as Laura/ X-23 who delivers most of her performance in silence – not easy feat by any actor. She lights up the screen in every scene and shows huge promise for the future. Stephen Merchant is fine, but underused as the albino Caliban, as too is Holbrook whose villain is only topped by the brilliant Richard E. Grant as slimy Dr. Zander Rice.
I’m sure that some will find issues here. The film is over-long and the plot device involving the physical appearance of the actual comic books in the film didn’t really work for me, but those are just two very minor points in a film that is largely enjoyable, totally engrossing popcorn movie with indie influence. Logan is the swan song for Jackman in his greatest role, and I challenge anyone not to well up with the perfect plot beat that you’re left with as the movie eventually fades to black.
Logan review by Paul Heath, February 2017.
Logan plays at the 2017 Berlin Film festival, and will be released in cinemas on March 1st.