The following review is spoiler-free.
What would happen to your favorite superheroes after they finally stopped saving the day? Would the years of watching friends die at the hands of villains take their toll?
“Logan” does not sugarcoat the answers to these questions. That is what makes the movie so good. The movie realistically addresses how superheroes would cope with PTSD, regret, and finding the will to live after undergoing so much emotional trauma. Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine has never been a cheerful character. He has always dealt with anger issues and a haunted past. But “Logan” sees the character at a new low, and sets him up for one last story of redemption.
“Logan” takes place in 2029. Mutants are an endangered species, the X-Men are no longer together, and remaining members Logan (Wolverine), Charles Xavier (Professor X), and Caliban live in hiding. These three characters are desperate and at the end of their luck. Logan works as a driver in the Southwest, Charles is an old man, and Caliban is unable to be a part of the outside world.
One of the most interesting dynamics of the film is how apocalyptic the world is for the mutants, while it is largely normal for everyone else. When the movie begins to establish its story, there is an obvious weight to the “one last job” plot. These characters are no longer saving the world. They are trying to save themselves.
In this way, “Logan” does not feel like a typical superhero film. There is no colorful or creatively named bad guy. The characters do not yell quips at each other in the middle of a fight. The characters are largely devoid of the optimism found in so many other superhero films. While there is a time and place for all of these things, “Logan” stands apart among the crowded slate of comic book movies. It is the darkest and most mature superhero movie since the “Dark Knight” trilogy. However, it is not serious for the sake of being serious, as is the case for the DC Extended Universe films.
On that note, “Logan” stands in stark contrast to the X-Men films that have come before. “Logan” is rated R, and this is apparent from the movie’s start. The action is intense and visceral. Every wound and injury can certainly be felt during these scenes. The movie uses blood and gore effectively, but not excessively. The same can not be said, however, about profanity. I have no issue with language in movies, but at times, it feels like the writers of “Logan” included profanity simply because they could.
My other issue with the writing includes the predictable plot. While many of the twists in “Logan” are truly unexpected, certain “big” character decisions can be easily predicted. A minor critique of “Logan” also comes in the form of the film’s exposition dump. Occurring in the first act, a huge amount of information on the bad guys is given to the audience in the form of a cell phone video. Without going into details, the video itself is a bit implausible, specifically in how it was made under the nose of the villain.
Other than these problems, the writing in “Logan” is great. The plot avoids common superhero complexities, and keeps the plot simple. The film balances a serious tone with occasional humor, and the cast delivers it well. Hugh Jackman and Patrick Stewart, as Logan and Charles Xavier respectively, give their best performances from the entire franchise. Steven Merchant (Caliban) and Dafne Keen (X-23) also deliver great performances. While some fans may be disappointed by the lack of X-Men members, the small cast of “Logan” allows for emotionally resonant moments between characters. These moments are often impossible in movies with large casts like last year’s “X-Men: Apocalypse.”
These small character moments make “Logan” stand out as one of the best superhero movies ever made. “Logan” places character development over action, and this final arc for Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine is powerful. “Logan” is ultimately a movie about redemption, and the movie even becomes a bit “meta” in showing how superheroes give hope to fans. In the end, the film is most definitely a movie about Logan, and it’s an impactful conclusion to the often convoluted Wolverine movies that have come before.
It’s hard to believe Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine first debuted 17 years ago with the original X-Men film. While the X-Men franchise at large shows no signs of stopping, it appears that films with the original cast have come to an end with “Logan.” Regardless of whether this holds true, “Logan” marks a high point for the X-Men franchise, and stands among “The Dark Knight” and “Guardians of the Galaxy” as one of the best superhero movies ever made. It stands alone in a way that few comic book movies do, which will help preserve its quality even more. The intense action is used sparingly. The limited humor always lands. Lastly, the film’s message of hope and redemption helps “Logan” stand above the many other comic book movies of recent years. If nothing else, see “Logan” for the amazing performances from Hugh Jackman and Patrick Stewart. “Logan” is a fitting conclusion to the Wolverine saga, and is finally the solo movie that Jackman deserves.