You’ve had a week and I want to talk about the movie so…deal with it, because here be spoilers!
Logan is the final X-Men film of actor Hugh Jackman (allegedly), who has been playing the character of Logan/Wolverine for 17 years now. I, like many others of my generation, grew up watching him and his fluctuating spiky part play this character and we have grown an attachment to him (as well as fatigue from bland films). James Mangold gave us the last film centered on the character, and this time he finally gets to put his vision on the screen with an R-rated hack and slash that, remarkably, is driven by depression and character.
From the opening moments we can see that this is not what we’re used to. Logan has to actually yank one of his claws all the way out, and it’s gross. He says “fuck” a lot, as does Patrick Stewart, and at points it feels like they milk the R-rating a bit with that one. He’s sad, he’s broken down, he’s slowly dying of metal poisoning (the Adamantium on his skeleton is finally catching up to him, destroying his healing factor), and he’s in a shack near the Mexican border with Professor X and Caliban, an albino tracker mutant. Right at the word “go” we can see how things have changed. Logan is not just part of a minority anymore, he’s part of an endangered species.
It does not take long for Logan to meet Laura, the girl. It is revealed in the film that she is a young clone grown from his DNA, which makes him a sort of father to her. She has less Adamantium on her skeleton and may be able to survive if she can get herself together. Laura is vicious, cold, and quiet unless she’s screaming in uncontrollable rage. The film spends so much time comparing her to Logan, looking at how they are similar and yet how she can learn from his mistakes.
Patrick Stewart completes this little family by playing the grandfather with dementia. He also has seizures that cause horrendous pain in those around him but…that surely won’t factor, right? His mental condition makes for not only a few moments of comedic brevity in this film but also leads to some of the more hard-to-watch moments. The first time we see him, with his wheelchair just rolling around as he spouts nonsense while trying to remember where he is, depresses me. I thought I wouldn’t get hung up on how depressing this was but Patrick Stewart sucks you in from his first moment.
And he dies. That was hard to watch.
We knew this would happen. There was no way Logan and Professor X were surviving this one, they made that obvious from the marketing. The issue was “how” and now “if”, and the film surprised me. Both deaths revolve around a character named X-24, a perfect clone of Wolverine that has nothing in him but rage. He takes precedence over villains Donald Pierce and Zander Rice just because…well, he actually does things. Pierce is an entertaining villain, a Wolverine fanboy that is forced to hunt him down, but in the end he just gets his ass kicked all over the place without really leaving an impression. Zander Rice is a late addition to the film and also does not do much other than yell at Pierce and unleash X-24.
This doesn’t cause much of a problem, though, because the main focus of the film is on Logan and his relationships with Laura and Professor X as well as his struggle against X-24. In a heavy-handed metaphor, the fights show him forced to battle him at his peak and deal with his uncontrollable rage in a very obvious way. Defending Laura is his salvation, as only together are they able to overcome the juiced-up clone (that Adamantium bullet just shattered that brain, didn’t it?) and Wolverine is able to get beyond himself and find love and family. The clone murders Professor X, simply stabbing him in the chest with his claws and leaving him to die, and in the end he impales a weakening Wolverine on a fallen tree. The characters die and are buried by those who have lost them, tears are shed and soliloquies are uttered, but the moments are powerful and heartbreaking. Watching Logan scream and rage himself into exhaustion after burying the Professor, or Laura weeping and begging her daddy to stay, it all hits just the right notes and the film spends most of its runtime earning these instances.
You guys, Logan is probably one of the best (if not the best) X-Men movies and probably the deepest in terms of being character-driven. Hugh Jackman and Patrick Stewart deliver wonderful final performances as these characters and close out the better part of two decades on the highest of notes. Fans of the films, fans of the characters, fans of the comics – this is your movie. While it has problems (and what film doesn’t?) these quibbles are so very outweighed by the amazing things done with the film. They prove that if the R-rating fits the story and everyone involved is passionate then we really can make a brilliantly thought-out comic book film.