Comic book movies have been around since, well since comic books, but it wasn’t until 2000’s X-Men that the genre finally found its voice and took hold. In that seminal movie, one of comicdom’s most popular creations, Wolverine, was brought to life by Hugh Jackman. Seventeen years later, Wolverine’s cinematic character arc has reached its destination in Logan , Hugh Jackman’s swan song.
Loosely based on Mark Millar’s comic book storyline “Old Man Logan,” the film is its own entity and stands as a powerful piece of cinema. Director James Mangold has severed all superhero movie conventions with one “snikt” of his claws. Logan doesn’t play by the rules set by previous films (Iron Man, Avengers) and it is a welcome breath of fresh air. No world-ending threat, no cosmic conflicts, no endless battles. None of that here, just a solid story about the loss of hope and the price of redemption.
Yep, Logan is a bleak movie – I might go far enough to say depressing. But that’s okay, Wolverine has always lived in the shadows of the Marvel Universe and has dealt with grief and sadness more then any other character. James Howlett’s life echoes the sentiment “live by the sword die by the sword,” and it’s never more evident than here, a story about an old man that has lived a life of violence and death, and has no aspirations of ever finding true happiness. Enter X-23. This 10-year-old girl finds Logan and together they fight for the last shred of hope they can see. It’s a brutal fight. Brutal.
Hugh Jackman is unforgettable is this role. He gives himself over to the character 100%. As a result, the person we see on the screen is not a movie star, but Wolverine. And make no mistake, while Jackman’s performance drives the film, without actress Dafne Keen, it would be a lesser movie. Keen is stunning as Laura (X-23). I was completely blown away by the caliber of this little girl’s acting. Her presence is undeniable and her scenes with Jackman at the end of the movie will bring tears. I’m not kidding, you will cry in an X-Men movie. I know it’s crazy, but the acting is that good. The journey we’ve gone on with these people for the last 2 and 1/2 hours has left us emotionally raw and vulnerable and we are not prepared for the onslaught of feelings we have at the end.
Logan is a wrecking ball of a film. It doesn’t care if you came to see an X-men movie. It doesn’t try to be Deadpool or go for cheap laughs. It has something to say and if you pay close attention and give yourself over to the story being told, you’ll find out what it is. Hope.