Logan – Saving The Best For Last?

If Jackman really means it and this is THE last time he will ever portray Wolverine, he has picked a perfect way to go out on top.

Set in the near future (2029 to be exact), our beloved X-Men hero, Logan (Hugh Jackman), is one of the last remaining mutants on the planet.  They have been hunted down and poisoned into extinction, and Logan is growing weary of a life full of violence and loss, especially as his powers weaken.

He’s hiding out in El Paso, drinking too much and doing what he can to take care of an aging and ailing Professor Xavier (Patrick Stewart).  However, Logan might have one last chance at redemption.

Gabriela (Elizabeth Rodriguez) is desperate to find Logan and convince him to take a young girl, Laura (Dafne Keen), to Canada for her own safety.  While he doesn’t want to get involved, our reluctant hero doesn’t have much of an alternative when the bounty hunters show up at his door looking for her, and Professor X tries to remind Logan of his good side.

Can they make it to Canada?

Is this Logan’s last ride?

Logan is not a superhero movie.  It’s a neo-western with a tragic, reluctant anti-hero feeling guilty for using his unique ability to cause mayhem and destruction to help others avoid the violence and pain all too familiar in his own life.

After playing Wolverine so many times on screen, you think Jackman would have nowhere else to go with his portrayal, but writer/director James Mangold puts the character into a perfect new scenario allowing our star to show a new vulnerability and humanity.  The conflict Wolverine has felt and the pain and loss he constantly experiences is nothing new, but Logan gives the audience a chance to see him fading away, faltering under the weight of it all, and becoming a shell of the indestructible superhero we have seen before.

This gives Jackman the opportunity to go beyond growling and showing his bulging biceps.  He wears Logan’s physical and emotional pain like an ill-fitting suit to let us know this is a man who isn’t used to these feelings being expressed (we usually find them hidden beneath rage), no matter how much he may be succumbing to reality as his spirit fades.

Stewart gets much the same opportunity here as we see a Professor Xavier in his twilight, his brilliant powerful mind betraying him even as he takes his last grasp at making the world a better place for those who are different.  Mangold and the writing team beautifully show us how Professor Xavier, even in a feeble condition, won’t stop trying to help the lost and confused, whether that be Dafne or Logan.

Stewart is amazing as we see Xavier fading in and out of awareness and the dangerous peril his condition presents to all around him.  Why shouldn’t he get an Oscar nomination next year?

Then, Mangold presents Logan as a raw, visceral, gritty, bleak film as we watch the characters make their way through dusty trails, backroads and some of the most gruesome violence you have ever seen in a movie.  The fight scenes are explosive, but graphic as the audience gets to see the carnage Wolverine has lived with for so long.  It makes it less thrilling and more substantive.

Logan is a fantastic movie made even better by a bit of surprise the audience gets to enjoy before the film starts.

4waffles_sml4 Waffles (Out of 4)    

Logan is rated R for strong brutal violence and language throughout, and for brief nudity.