Is Wolverine’s final stand an incredible conclusion to his story? Read our movie review of Logan to find out:Hugh Jackman has been playing the iconic role of Logan “Wolverine” Howlett for 17 years. But in Logan he dons the claws one last time in a movie that presents a much different version of the X-Men character, in a movie without the title of X-Men or Wolverine.
Logan is now an aged and bitter man in a future where mutants are practically extinct. His beard is thicker; his claws don’t shoot out of his knuckles so easily and his outlook on the future is grim. This is not the same timeless, ageless and indestructible mutant we’ve seen before. And I’m not just talking about the gallons of blood and body parts he can finally hack off in an R-rated movie, though there’s enough of that to fill an Olympic swimming pool.
The only familiar figure still around from Logan’s past is Charles Xavier, played by a more aged and emotional Patrick Stewart. Xavier was once the most intelligent and powerful of mutants, but now spends his days sputtering, shouting and crying over his fading health and the extinction of mutants. It isn’t until he senses the mysterious new mutant child Laura (newcomer Dafne Keen) that the old man begins to perk up and start talking sense. She comes seeking the aid of Logan, but he’s been down this road enough times to be more than a little reluctant to her pleas. He’s aware of his nature that attracts the wrong kind of people where good people meet bad ends. But the gun-toting bad guys seem to already be on his doorstep, so what’s one more violent bloodbath? And what a bloodbath it is, spawning everything from close-quarters combat to intense car chases, all of them with a distinct air of fresh ideas and savage brutality.
Logan’s premise is thankfully a major break from the PG-13 superhero movie formula which usually ends with something as bland as a doomsday machine or as silly as a giant robot to fight. Without giving too much away, his mission this time is far more simple and personal. There is no massive army of mutant cameos to tackle, no giant blue laser to remove from the sky and no prophecy of the chosen mutant to fulfill. There’s something meaningful to this type of story that bounces between being a western with its references to Shane (even literally having the characters watch Shane), a horror with its relentless body count and a sci-fi picture with its futuristic setting.
This story is extraordinarily subtle in showcasing its world, building out small elements of its future and playing carefully with the dialogue. Logan doesn’t speak unless he has something important to say, foregoing most of his growling quips. Xavier speaks with a weary and emotional edge, a stark contrast from his usually calm and collected self. Laura simply refuses to speak until she has a sufficient handle on the situation and can trust the people around her. Even the villains don’t waste much of our time with vapid monologues about how the world has changed and what their plans are for the future of mutants. The evil scheme is a mostly familiar theme for the X-Men that the movie doesn’t bother to waste our time with the usual explanations. And when the script must become expositional, there are clever means of presenting this material, as when Logan and Xavier discover a tell-all smartphone video with more show than tell.