After seventeen years of playing his career defining character, Hugh Jackman returns as Logan in this grounded, raw and violent new take on Wolverine in his last adventure.
The setting of Logan’s new life in El Paso, an abandoned desert along the Mexican border, adds to director James Mangold’s rough new vision for the clawed hero. Logan is showing signs of aging, limping and scarred. We see him as a shadow of his former self living in a harsh world after mutants have been wiped out.
Charles is now a senile old man, battling with guilt and dementia, swinging between the tenderness and wisdom we have come to expect from the professor, and a new profane and angry side brought about by his isolation and drug use.
Clever sound design and editing makes Xavier’s seizures almost painful to watch, and captures the effects of disease on the world’s most powerful mind.
Logan assumes the reluctant protector role once again when he meets Laura, a young mute girl with violent abilities suspiciously similar to his own. Dafne Keen’s performance is delightful and as she emerges from a fight scene with a decapitated head in the opening minutes of the movie, she strongly establishes that this is not a fluffy father-daughter flick.
By far the strongest moments are when the unlikely trio share the screen together. Xavier is the aging, wise presence, Laura the chaotic violent youth, and Logan struggling to protect what family he has left. However, even the rare moments of brevity are overshadowed by an overwhelming sense of doom as the team get closer to their final destination.
The violence of Logan is what makes it unique amongst the onslaught of recent superhero movies. The feral Wolverine stabs, slices and swears his way across America on their journey to find a safe haven, in fight scenes far bloodier than a typical Marvel film.
Logan isn’t completely ground-breaking; it relies on classic tropes of utterly forgettable villains, with Richard E Grant wasted as the token evil British scientist. The final confrontation seems a little weak following the steady character-driven build up.
However, the intimate story-telling is like a breath of fresh air following the CGI spectacle which was X-Men: Apocalypse. The bleak tone couldn’t be more different and the small cast were given a chance to shine unlike the huge ensemble cast of the previous films. The slow pace allows for the subtle emotional beats to land, making the sad moments even more devastating.
What makes the Wolverine character so beloved is his humanity far more than his super abilities. Logan strips the plastic superhero down to the simple man, and delivers a strong legacy for Jackman in easily the best X-Men movie ever made.