DIRECTOR: JAMES MANGOLD/2017
Logan is Hugh Jackman’s final appearance as the clawed superhero, Wolverine, and it is fitting that he is riding off into the sunset, after nearly 20 years playing this character, with the man who brought Wolverine in from the cold, Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart). Director James Mangold is back after previously directing Jackman in the last solo Wolverine story, The Wolverine. Interestingly enough, the story for Logan bears no direct link to the previous entry, and instead embraces a world that exists with no more mutants being born. The X-Men are now just the stuff of legend, appearing in the comic book form that we know and love in our world. Logan and Charles seem to the last of their kind, yet both are a shell of the heroes we remember.
Logan has left behind his path of helping others. He spends his days driving a limo for those who request it, and the rest of the time is spent drinking himself to death. He lives in Mexico, just south of El Paso, Texas, holed up with the professor who, without proper medication, is prone to seizures and memory loss, that if left unchecked unleash his telepathic powers into the world threatening to kill all of those around him. They also live with a man named Caliban (Stephen Merchant), who is a former mutant tracker that cannot directly be exposed to sunlight.
When one of Logan’s limo calls is from a mysterious woman named Gabriela (Elizabeth Rodriguez) and a young girl named Laura (Dafne Keen), he learns that he must find the strength to help them as they are pursued by a corporate lab with dark purposes, hunting for this young girl. Employed by the lab are a team of mercenaries led by Donald Pierce (Boyd Holbrook), who has his own motives for catching the girl.
While no one wants to see Jackman hang up the claws, we will have to simply celebrate the fact that Jackman always gave us his all, in all 9 appearances of this character, and has virtually made it impossible for whoever has the misfortune to attempt to take on the character next.
The first thing that must be said is that this is the best story in the Wolverine series. It is for all intents and purposes a Western. Though it has none of the elements on its surface to suggest that, it is very much tied to that genre. From the nomadic character of Logan who lives in the desolate landscape of Northern Mexico/West Texas, to his quest for justice as he faces off against a band of outlaws in protection of others. Having already done his Samurai/Ronin film which closely resembles the American Western, with The Wolverine, it seems fitting that a Western-like film closes out Jackman’s final act as the titular superhero. Even the classic Western film Shane serves as powerful influence on this film’s narrative and conclusion.
For those more accustomed to the action-filled, wise-cracking, sarcastic, and reluctant superhero known as Wolverine, now that version of the character is only seen in the reflection of the mirror of this aged, and broken man who once was the Wolverine. Small flashes remind us of the Wolverine in his prime, but that man is effectively gone.
Logan, utilizing the “Old Man Logan” story-line in the comics as inspiration for this tale, is a shadow of what he once was. He has aged. His eyesight is starting to weaken, and his quick healing powers are slowly fading. Even his famous adamantium claws rarely extend to their full-length anymore. Professor X, while suffering from seizures, also carries a heavy burden related to the death of the previous X-Men. This is not directly discussed in the film, but it is alluded to in passing dialogue that occasionally references the aforementioned series, but never directly connects back to the previous films.
So thank you Hugh for ending your run as Wolverine with grace, beauty, a compelling story, and a fitting conclusion. Like Shane, we want to yell: “Wolverine. Wolverine! Come Back!”, but instead we too must say “Bye, Wolverine”.
While the trailer shows the child known as Laura, who has adamantium claws of her own referring to her as the famous X-23 character in the comics, this is in no way a film for children. Wolverine had always pushed its PG-13 borders before with an occasional F-bomb, and its violence. For this film, an R-rating is more than appropriate as Logan unleashes the most brutally violent Wolverine yet, along with an increase in language and brief nudity (though not of Jackman as in previous installments, in case you cared). While never as crass as the indirectly related Deadpool, who appeared in a far lesser form with Wolverine in the mostly forgotten X-Men Origins: Wolverine, this is a truly adult-themed superhero film that removes the fast cuts and usual action for a melodramatic road trip that leads into Jackman having one last stand as Wolverine.
The best part of this film is the interaction between Hugh Jackman and Patrick Stewart. These two have developed great chemistry over the years, and here, we see an aging Wolverine acting as caregiver to an even more aged Charles Xavier. Much like a real parent/child relationship, Charles, continues to try to mentor the usual go-it-alone Logan. Logan, like a dutiful son, continues to care for this man he loves and respects. Though the world has changed around them, they are still for all practical purposes, family. The notion of family becomes a central theme of this film, seen beautifully at a dinner that Logan, Charles, and Laura have at a family farm with a group of strangers that they have helped out. The idea of family is also the catalyst for the final showdown, and the reason for Logan’s last stand.
The film, appropriately ends with a song by Johnny Cash, whose life James Mangold tried to tell in his film Walk the Line , and Logan contains no ending credit scene. This is despite the rumor that Deadpool was to have appeared in such a scene. Like the poster for the film, Jackman has finally rode off into the sunset. While he will continue to act, he has said that this is the final version of his Wolverine. The only reason I see him returning to the character is if either Ryan Reynolds can convince him to do it for Deadpool 2 (which Reynolds says he is trying to do), or more likely, he would return if 20th Century Fox worked out a deal with Marvel Studios to let Wolverine make an appearance in the upcoming Avengers: Infinity War. That doesn’t seem likely to happen.
While no one wants to see Jackman hang up the claws, we will have to simply celebrate the fact that Jackman always gave us his all, in all 9 appearances of this character, and has virtually made it impossible for whoever has the misfortune to attempt to take on the character next. Jackman, like Logan, still seems to look much the same as he did back in 2000 when he first appeared as the character in X-Men. And like Logan, Jackman is himself aging and simply doesn’t want to continue to have to do what is necessary to physically prepare for this role.
We have witnessed a pretty remarkable run of one actor playing the same character (much less a superhero) 9 different times in an age of constant reboots. He even transcended the attempted reboot of X-Men by appearing with the younger versions of the characters in X-Men: First Class, X-Men: Days of Future Past, and was the best part of the generally terrible X-Men: Apocalypse.
So thank you Hugh for ending your run as Wolverine with grace, beauty, a compelling story, and a fitting conclusion. Like in Shane, we want to yell: “Wolverine. Wolverine! Come Back!”, but instead we too must say: