Logan marks the ninth and final time of Hugh Jackman playing everyone’s favorite clawed X-Man, and this time he must escort Professor Xavier (Patrick Stewart) and a young mutant (Dafne Keen) from Mexico to the Canadian border. Richard E. Grant, Boyd Holbrook and Stephen Merchant also star as James Mangold returns to direct.
X-Men Origins: Wolverine, Jackman’s first solo outing as the character in 2009, was botched on almost every front (except for his performance) and is often cited as one of the worst superhero films ever made. His second attempt in 2013, The Wolverine, faired a better, with the Japanese and samurai mythos really carrying the film until it betrayed its tone with a cartoony climax. This time around, thanks to the success of R-rated Deadpool last February, Jackman got his R-rated swansong; and it’s a mixed bag.
On a technical level, there isn’t much wrong with Logan. It looks good, with settings ranging from dusty, sun-soaked Texas to lush, green North Dakota, and for the most part the action is captured well by cinematographer John Mathieson. Mangold and company take advantage of the R rating and don’t shy away from Logan eviscerating henchmen left and right. There are some points where the action does get extra-bloody and they overcompensate, like showing a man get decapitated and having his bloody head roll around. It’s almost as if to make up for the past 17 years of us having to use our imaginations as to what happens when a man with claws impales a human.
Jackman portrays Logan at his most broken-down and vulnerable we’ve ever seen him, although at some points it is hard to see where Jackman’s take on the character ends and his own exhaustion of the role begins. No one is questioning his dedication to the character that he will forever be synonymous with, however there are times throughout the film it appears he is simply going through the motions, which may not even entirely be his fault, as stepping to the same shoes for almost two decades may make putting on that façade second nature.
The film’s best moments are the quiet interactions between characters when they’re simply in a room talking, acting like people. It’s a sense of reality and relatability you don’t get during the onslaught action scenes. There are some attempts at humor, and a lot of them do hit thanks to Patrick Stewart’s dry British wit, Jackman’s growling delivery or newcomer Dafne Keen’s nuanced actions.
Which brings me to my biggest gripe about Logan and that is its tone and delivery of its story. I have no problem with films trying to reinvent the wheel of their respective genre, so that Logan wants to be a gritty, grim and realistic take on one of the more tortured souls of the comic book world is fine with me. However the pacing of the story is equally as bleak, with after a while the action all too often not coming across as fun and more so as numbing and about halfway though, Logan hits a wall and starts to huff and puff toward the conclusion of its two and a half hour runtime.
Logan is made with the best intentions and diehard fans of the character and comics will find more to love in here than the casual filmgoer, but otherwise the film is somewhat of a letdown, for me at least. If this truly is Hugh Jackman’s final bow as the character of Wolverine then he deserved better, but just as the film strives to tell us: no matter how dark and unsatisfying the world is, you just have to keep on grinding along.