Logan is a 2017 American action drama film with superhero elements written and directed by James Mangold. Logan is the tenth film in the X-Men film franchise and the eighth and final appearance of Hugh Jackman in the role that made him famous, James “Logan” Howlett, also known as Wolverine. The film also sees Patrick Stewart returning (also in his final appearance) as Professor X/Charles Xavier. Both these men had originated these roles seventeen years earlier with the original 2000 smash hit X-Men, which, along with Spider-Man, is credited as the major catalyst for the resurgence of mainstream superhero films into popular culture. Logan is more than another entry into the franchise, it is a swan song for two of the most integral people, two people undeniably responsible for the franchise’s initial success.
Logan, partially based off of the 2008 comic book storyline of the same name, takes place in the year 2029. There has not been another mutant born naturally for 20 years at this point. Following the disillusion of the X-Men, Logan has been living off-the-grid on the U.S.-Mexico Border taking care of a dangerously ill, ninety-year-old Charles, who is now prone to uncontrollable seizures. Xavier, who possesses the most powerful telepathic mind of any mutant ever discovered, is also experiencing fits of Alzheimer’s and periods of delusion. His seizures are very dangerous and have the potential to harm everyone in the vicinity if not dealt with. Logan is working as a chauffeur to make ends meet, making drug deals to acquire the medication necessary to subdue Xavier’s episodes, with help from another mutant, the albino tracker Caliban.
Logan himself is also dying. His regeneration factor no longer works and his adamantium-fused skeleton causes him constant pain and is slowly killing him. He is hard-drinking, cynical, and nihilistic. His devotion to his former mentor is the only thing keeping him from suicide with a specialized adamantium bullet.He is approached by a young mother, desperate to get her and her young daughter to North Dakota, with promises of enough money so Logan and Charles can buy a boat and escape to the high seas. An offer too good for Logan to refuse, he is drawn into a saga of violence, death, despair, and rediscovery.
You will notice that I avoided terming Logan a superhero film; that’s because it isn’t. It is a dark, mature character study of a man, a deeply-flawed, 150-year-old man who used to be a superhero. James Howlett was born in the later 1880’s, yet is ageless because of the degenerative healing factor provided by his mutation. He has been a veteran of all major wars since his birth in one way or another, before becoming Weapon X and eventually finding redemption for his sins with Charles and the X-Men. He has seen things, done things that he cannot take back. He cannot live with all the people he has killed. Logan is an analysis of a man with a century and change worth of self-hatred, rage, and anger.
Logan might be the best film in the entire franchise, challenged only by Days of Future Past and technically Deadpool. Like any good film, it knows there has to be substance to a story to be good. Logan is a film of substance. The action is not flashy, nor heroic. This is not a heroic film. It is a deep dive into the darkness of the soul, by way of a great script and great directing by director of the very disappointing standalone film The Wolverine back in 2013. I was pleasantly surprised, as it seems Mangold has discovered there are a lot of people who emotionally invest in these characters, and the action, though important, often should take a backseat to emotional connection, something Logan does very, very well.
Logan is the second film to be rated R after Deadpool. This was a very smart move, as, in addition to the blood, dismemberment, and swearing, which is honestly necessary to parallel the emotional brutality of the narrative, it also allows for the exploration of highly mature themes, like loss, death, consequence, and hope in the face of adversity. Logan is a film that pulls no punches in any sense, whether physical or emotional. It is a brutal, almost saddening journey to watch, and it is a better film because of that.
All of this is amplified by truly amazing performances by Hugh Jackman and Patrick Stewart. I feel I cannot describe exactly how great these two were, so I will just say this: they friggin’ nail it! This is a return to form that shows the viewer exactly why these actors were skyrocketed into the spotlight for their portrayals of these legendary characters, later becoming respected actors in their own rights. The characters themselves have remained and will remain long-lasting mainstays of popular culture. Young newcomer Dafne Keen is also great. The Spanish-English 12-year-old proves that being a kid is not an excuse for being a horrible actor, because she hits it out of the park.
Ultimately, I think the people behind Logan finally understand what these characters mean to people. Comic books like X-Men (which began in the 1970’s) were initially marketed to children. Those children formed an attachment to these characters. They felt for them emotionally, they were invested. Then, those kids grew up. Superheroes are no longer just for kids, as anyone who’s seen the enjoyment that Iron Man or Civil War can give to an adult audience knows. The people behind Logan knew how to give fans exactly what they wanted.
Logan is a great film. It is a great addition to the franchise that almost makes up for the failures of the previous entry, while also being a great film by itself. As Logan does not rely heavily on the X-Men or other connections except for, obviously, the characters featured in the film itself, I do not think a newcomer would be hopelessly confused. Logan isn’t a superhero film, it’s about a really emotionally messed up dude who used to be a superhero, is a century and a half old, has metal claws, and can regenerate from injuries. It’s not a superhero movie, and to that effect, I would challenge you to go see it even if you are not a big fan of superheroes. It features solid performances from everyone, and is full of emotion, drama, and some brutal action to boot. It was, in summary, a fitting goodbye to Jackman and Stewart’s most famous and well-known roles that everyone is sure to appreciate on some level.