Take A Bow
I’m going to resist making any “Lone Wolf and his Pup” jokes for the duration of this review.
Hugh Jackman makes his final appearance as Wolverine, with Jean-Luc Picard taking a final supporting turn as Professor Xavier, and introducing Dafne Keen as X-23. It’s a rousing finale for the character and one of the best X-Men movies…ever.
I’m sure that the most talked about part of the film in the coming days will be its brutal violence and emotional performances. But the film wouldn’t work without it’s strongest element…conviction. Logan is a film with purpose, above all else.
We’ve seen Wolverine before. Whether he’s a reluctant member of an ensemble or a loner fighter back memories of lost loved ones, Logan has always been a character in stasis. Yes, you can push him, but only so far. The trouble with ongoing big-budget franchises is the need to keep your favorite characters at a certain status quo. Now, with an end in sight, we can really dig into the character to determine what makes him tick.
Who is Wolverine? What does he fight for? Who, if anyone, does he care about? The film addresses these questions head-on, giving the character a more nuanced turn while on the road with Xavier and X-23. We learn a lot about Logan on the trip, not just through what he says to his friends and enemies, but how he acts to total strangers. The gang runs into a family half-way through the film, and we are treated to an excellent collection of scenes that re-frame both Wolverine and Xavier. Their conflicting ideologies are not those of mutants, but of people…people with hopes, desires, and disappointments.
This strong character work, this conviction I’ve been talking about, is not “in addition to” the action, but instead it informs the action. We all remember Jackman’s last solo outing, The Wolverine. We had a slow-moving character piece through Japan right up until, HARD-CUT, the movie became a shlocky comic-book movie with big robo-Samurai finale. It was wildly out of place in what was earlier a solid movie about expectations, both family- and self-imposed. In Logan, however, all of the action is right in line with the character’s current state. Wolverine is a man at the end of his rope, frustrated with himself and world around him. His combat tactics aren’t measured or thought-out, they’re just fed-up.
Couple this, of course, with Wolverine’s history. He was a man bred to fight. He doesn’t want to hurt people, but its literally in his bones. When he’s forced to, almost literally, look at himself as a mindless fighting machine, it only adds to his conviction. At the end of the day, is this all Wolverine really is? Is he just a hack-and-slash machine, or is he more than the sum of his parts?
It goes without saying that this the best Wolverine movie, but it might even be the best X-Men movie…right up there with X2 and Days of Future Past. I hesitate to use the word “flawless,” but aside from a few nitpicks. Yes, we have another “corporate bad guy who wants to breed super-soldiers, and, yes, the combat tends to be a little “RAHHHHHH” shouty given the physical nature of the fights, but, by and large, this movie successfully achieves everything it sets out to achieve.
Creating a moving finale for a longstanding character is pretty damn. Most people are pleased when their characters end in a “pretty good” way, but Wolverine gets to go out on a high note. Hugh Jackman and Patrick Stewart got the send-offs they deserved and they should be proud of the excellent performances they’ve contributed over the years. Logan has raised the bar for genre-bending action fare, and it’ll be a long time before we get a finale as earned as this one.
Alex Russo likes to talk about movies. You can read more of his insane ramblings on Twitter.