After more than a decade of portraying Wolverine, it’s actor Hugh Jackman’s last time on the silver screen as the beloved X-Men character. “Logan” (2017) follows the last chapter of Wolverine’s story, which spun over six “X-Men” installments and 3 stand-alone features. Director James Mangold (“The Wolverine” (2013) and “Walk The Line” (2005)) was challenged to bring this story to a worthy end. “Logan” turns out to be more than worthy, as it’s an explosive, gritty and yet emotional final chapter.
The film finds Logan (Hugh Jackman) and Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart) in a grim version of the nearby future. Mutants are very nearly swiped from the surface of the earth and our heroes are hiding out near the Mexican border. The future does not hold much good for the main characters, as Logan gets nearly killed on a mere daily basis as limousine driver and professor X is struggling with old age, as it slowly but steadily breaks down his brain functioning. They are managing, but only barely, and the arrival of a mysterious little girl once more brings them back into harm’s way. Laura (Dafne Keen) is a mutant, and surprisingly similar to Logan, and dark forces are hunting her down. Our three heroes embark on a road trip across America to find safety in Eden (the humor isn’t lost on me), but the road is long and dangerous, and not everyone will make it to the end.
Already during the first five minutes of the film, it becomes crystal clear this is a different take on the X-Men franchise and in particular Wolverine’s story than we’ve seen before. “Logan” is unapologetically violent, brutal and realistic. Blood runs freely, heads roll over the floor and Wolverine’s claws are sharper than ever – it’s a take perfectly suited to the character and his murderous background. The film looks and feels gritty and dark, aimed to uncover the grim side of the violence and killing that follow Wolverine everywhere he goes. The audience, however, isn’t entirely sure what to make of the much more aggressive, violent and thereby mature approach. “Wasn’t this film PG-13?” asks one of my fellow cinema-goers, as Wolverine pierces his claws through someone’s skull, with the ease of puncturing an orange with a knife, in quite the graphic fashion. Indeed, it’s quite the difference from the previous X-Men installments, which were clearly aimed at a younger audience. Nonetheless, the more mature approach is perfectly in sync with the story director James Mangold wants to tell.
At the heart of all this death and dispair, however, is an element completely unfamiliar to the character of Wolverine and thereby incredibly interesting for the audience: family. Laura, the little mutant girl with claws just as sharp and a character just as wild as Wolverine’s, turns out to be his daughter. It sounds like a cheesy and slightly manipulative plot device, but it actually works really well in the sense it adds a level of emotion and empathy to the film. The interplay between Logan and his daughter adds a layer to the film that the audience can empathize with. Logan struggles between keeping his distance from Laura to protect her and wanting to be there for her and protect her – and the audience is right there struggling with him.
The wonderful performances from both main stars Jackman and Stewart, as well as newcomer Keen. “Logan” is Jackman’s final performance as Wolverine, and he pours his heart and soul into it. The actor proves, once more, what an iconic character Wolverine has become after almost 15 years on the silver screen. The opposing force to Jackman’s character is Charles Xavier, portrayed by Stewart. In “Logan”, Stewart brings an extra, deeper layer to the the familiar character of professor X, as the character is angry, desperate and slowly breaking down. Then Laura is the character that binds them with incredible force. Actress Keen is a revelation, as the character comes with so much physicality, and she performs it beautifully.
In the end, “Logan” is the perfect final chapter to the story of Wolverine. It’s told in a dark, grim and realistic manner, which perfectly suits the iconic X-Men character, and forms a worthy goodbye to Jackman’s just as iconic portrayal.