The Russell Review: Logan

Minor spoilers ahead. Consider yourself warned!

Having been a comic book and superhero fan my whole life, I have always been invested in the “X-Men” franchise, through the good (X2, Days of Future Past) and the bad (I’m looking at you X3 and X-Men Origins: Wolverine). One of the consistencies through the whole series, however, has been Hugh Jackman’s performance as Logan, the Wolverine. Knowing that Logan was his last performance, I already went into the movie with a flood of emotions. I must say, those emotions didn’t stop through the whole 2-hour runtime.

I think one of the most enticing things about Logan is that it can still be enjoyed without having a knowledge of the X-Men universe. While having seen the other movies increases the emotions felt throughout the film, it can truly be enjoyed as a standalone piece. It also transcends the label of “superhero movie,” becoming a great movie in the process.

Hugh Jackman as Logan/The Wolverine in Logan. Photo credit: Ben Rothstein http://www.imdb.com/title/tt3315342/mediaviewer/rm2077504256

One of the most jarring changes in this movie when compared to past X-Men movies is the change from a PG-13 rating to an R. There’s something strange but also entertaining about hearing Patrick Stewart as Professor Xavier drop the f-bomb. But the most glorious part about the new rating is finally seeing Wolverine (and Laura, a young girl with very similar abilities) maim, butcher and brutalize anyone in his path. One of the biggest complaints about the past films is that Wolverine didn’t get to show off the true bloodthirsty rage that he is known for. This is not the case in Logan, as the titular character goes on a tour de force through countless enemies, treating them as obstacles on what is clearly his last mission.

One of the most touching moments early on is when Logan visits Charles Xavier, the closest thing he ever had to a father figure, in a bunker made of what appears to be a fallen water tower. Mutant-kind has all but disappeared from Earth, and it’s clear early on that Xavier possibly had something to do with it. They make a point of addressing that the telepath’s mind is considered a “weapon of mass destruction,” which makes the audience intrigued as to why it has been classified as such. We see a Charles Xavier we’ve never seen before, beaten and delusional. This movie has better performances than any “superhero” film has a right to have, and they really contribute to the emotional weight of the film.

Hugh Jackman, Patrick Stewart and newcomer Dafne Keen (playing the quiet, but fierce Laura) truly allow this film to break the bonds of the genre. This shows that superhero movies truly can tell tough, real stories that can be enjoyed by anybody, a trend started by Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight in 2008. While Laura remains quiet for most the film, her body language and ferocity when fighting showcase an actress who hopefully has a bright future ahead of her.

Dafne Keen as Laura in Logan. Photo Credit: IMDB http://www.imdb.com/title/tt3315342/mediaviewer/rm2647012096

While this movie doesn’t have many things wrong with it, I believe that the villains leave a bit to be desired. While Boyd Holbrook’s “Pierce” was entertaining as a mutant fanboy working for the wrong people, two villains introduced later in the film feel very hollow. One barely gets any time at all, and the other just seemed brought in for the express purpose of giving Wolverine something just as fierce and unstoppable as him to allow for exciting fight sequences.

It was bittersweet to see Hugh Jackman’s run as Logan end, but I don’t think it could have ended any better than it did. It will be interesting to see the X-Men franchise live on without his presence there, as he has been in every movie so far, whether starring or cameo. I also believe it would be a shame to never use Laura again in the movies, but I’m not sure how they would incorporate her into the future movies with how the timelines are set up. However, I don’t think they should ever try to recast the character. Jackman has played the character for 17 years, and I think that it’s time to hang up the claws.

Final Verdict

Logan is an emotional tour de force that had me on the verge of tears for the majority of its runtime. It was a bittersweet end to an iconic character, but it’s just great to know that it broke the curse of bad Wolverine movies to give him the proper sendoff he deserved.

I am going to be changing my rating system now, as I feel that a grading scale seems quite arbitrary and that it compares them to other movies that really aren’t comparable. From now on, I’ll simply be recommending if people should see the movie or not.

Logan is a must see for all, not just superhero fans. Go watch it!