Well, this is it – Hugh Jackman’s last outing as Wolverine. He’s played the character in nine movies starting with 2000’s X-Men. It is in this, his last hurrah, that blows them all away. Logan is a powerful, contemplative film that perfectly ends Jackman’s run with the character. It’s a family drama, an action thriller, and the boldest, if not most affecting superhero flick in years.
Here are 5 reasons why Logan will be remembered fondly.
Previous X-Men films muted Wolverines kills, careful to hide maiming and bloodshed. That is not the case here. Wolverine is often accompanied by the phrase, “He’s best there is at what he does and what does isn’t very nice.” Now that finally means something. From the first, savagely-violent, gory confrontation between a drunk, alcoholic Wolverine/Logan/James Howlett (Hugh Jackman) and three of the unluckiest gangbangers ever put on film, every hack and slash, severed head and limb, is responded to by an appropriate, “Oh, shit. Fucking YES!” from the audience. The R-rating finally gives Jackman-as-Wolverine to go into full-on berserker mode, something that was repeatedly missing from earlier X-Men appearances or his two previous standalone films. Those flesh-ripping kills let loose the beast that nature made and nurtured by man.
An exploration of what happens when heroes get old. Pushing 90 in Logan, Xavier suffers from dementia-like symptoms, often resulting in uncontrollable psychic disturbances that paralyze anyone within several hundred yards. Logan is unarguably, Stewart’s finest work as Professor Charles Xavier. It’s heartbreaking to see the once great professor being stupefied by drugs for fear of what his mind might do, and sad to see him carried like a child, needing assistance to something as simple as using the bathroom, protesting all the way. The relationship between the Professor and Logan resonates to anyone that has ever had to care for sick/dying parent. There is one particular scene that stands out above the rest. After being on the run, Logan, Laura, and Xavier befriend a farming family that take them in for the night, offering them a brief break from the carnage and mayhem that is sure to follow. After a delightful dinner, Xavier tells Logan that this night is the “happiest” he’s been in a long time. It’s all the more soul crushing when Xavier states that he didn’t “deserve any of it” because he remembers the unspecified horrible tragedy he caused that Logan and the drugs have kept locked away from him.
Laura/X23 (Dafne Keen) shows up, dumped into Logan’s life by a Mexican nurse (Elizabeth Rodriguez) from a secret clinic. She’s a mysterious girl, who says nothing but carries herself with a confidence and ferocity, and of course, familiar mutant abilities. She is magnificent. The relationship between her and Logan is fascinating to watch. Best summed up in the scene where Laura watches Logan wake up from a nightmare. She admits to him she has nightmares too, nightmares because “people hurt me” to which Logan replies that his nightmares are because “he hurts people”. Come on, if that wasn’t the most perfect exchange that sums up so much by doing so little – two characters cut from the same (genetic) cloth, where one’s journey is ending and the other’s is just beginning, where hurt begets hurt. In the end, it is a true father/daughter relationship where a parent gives everything to see their child safe and bestow upon them the hope of a something better.
Jackman’s passion and charm for the character has always been undeniable. Jackman, however, has also been equally criticized for being “too tall”, “too handsome”, “too…”. Whatever visual differences between comic to screen, Jackman’s real tragedy, is that he never quite got Wolverine right – a fact Jackman he himself admits, a case of imposter syndrome as it were. At his core, Wolverine is a beast trying desperately hard to find his humanity. Jackman had a habit of playing it the other way around. Now, after playing the character for the 9th and final time, Jackman gets it completely right. Jackman invests this version of Logan fully – old, battered, beaten, agonizingly slipping away. He’s a walking Johnny Cash song. You feel the character’s strength and pain. His exhaustion, resignation, and desire to be anywhere else than where he is. A man lost to ache and regret, his humanity hanging by a thread. It takes family, and responsibility to muster the will to soldier on.
The saddest X-Men movie of all time. We knew it was coming, Jackman all but spelled it out for everyone in his press interviews, but seeing Logan’s last breathe still struck the cord needed. Some have said the movie was too long, but perhaps that was done to try to help the audience understand how tired Logan was. Tired of all the bullshit that came with trying to do good when the world hates you and your kind. Logan was ready to give that up at the end, knew that the serum wouldn’t save him, just give him that last ounce of strength he would need to save the children.
They buried him and placed a cross, which X-23 turned to make an “X” because Logan was the last X-Man. The group of mutant children and X-23 walk away, hopefully to a better place, although most of us would expect them to face the same problems the First Class mutants faced while they try to find a home. The franchise torch has been passed to a younger generation while respecting and admiring the older one.
Bonus Reason – Caliban:
Stephen Merchant is fantastic in the role of Caliban, the mutant tracker. He stole many of the scenes he was in with Jackman and left a solid impression on the audience. Caliban wasn’t a thrown in character to fill a gap, he had heart, strength, and many past flaws and demons that he obviously struggled with.