Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Hugh Jackman Takes Final Bow as Wolverine in Phenomenal 'Logan'

Let's be honest with ourselves: The X-Men movie franchise is a disaster. Yes, individually, it does contain some great films (X2: X-Men United and the hilarious Deadpool, for example), but by and large, it serves as an excellent example of how not to do a sprawling superhero series. Continuity is all over the place, the timelines (pick one) don't add up and the less said about how certain characters are treated, the better. I'm so, so sorry, Jubilee.

But that said, we love these movies in the grand scheme of things, and so when we learned that Logan would be Hugh Jackman and Sir Patrick Stewart's last outing as Wolverine and Professor Charles Xavier, respectively, we couldn't help but be invested.

But man, does that investment pay off.

With a hard-R rating and the kind of wanton violence that would make Wade Wilson blush beneath his crimson mask, Logan is not only one of the best superhero movies released in recent years, but it's a damn fine film. Period.

Following Deadpool's surprise success as a blood-drenched comic book romp early last year, director James Mangold (who also directed 2013's The Wolverine) lets the iconic Canuck use his claws. A lot. The violence during the title character's berserker barrages during Logan  makes the action sequences in the previous X-Men films seem downright childish by comparison.

But Wolverine isn't the only one doing the bloodletting in this film. As Logan serves as protector of an aged, ill Professor X (played marvelously by Stewart, who made me feel every possible emotion during this movie), he encounters a young girl named Laura (Dafne Keen), who displays some traits and, well, claws, that are curiously similar to his own. Of course, comic book readers figured out who she is during the first trailer, but since her identity is a bit of a spoiler for the uninitiated, I'll simply state that she's a big deal in this movie, and she kicks just as much ass as Wolverine.

Logan's not just about ass-kicking, however, even though it excels at it. Jackman, Stewart and Keen bring to life an off-kilter road trip film that bears more similarities to No Country for Old Men or Mad Max: Fury Road than it does to. say, X-Men: Apocalypse. Heck, there's even some Little Miss Sunshine thrown in there. Not necessarily beholden to the messy continuity of the previous films or engineered to produce sequels, Logan has the creative freedom to slow things down and truly get into the minds of these characters, who find themselves incredibly vulnerable and cast aside in a world where mutants have all but vanished. I'm not certain whether this film  is a follow-up to Days of Future Past or if it exists in some as-yet-unseen alternate timeline, but this standalone story is so engrossing and the characters are so richly drawn that you won't worry about any of those things. Logan is simply a great movie. Superhero or otherwise.

You'll squirm, you'll cheer, you'll laugh and you'll cry. Boy, will you cry. Logan has a lot of competition from other comic book flicks this year, including Spider-Man: Homecoming, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2,  Thor: Ragnarok, Wonder Woman and Justice League, but all of those films will be hard-pressed to match the emotional journey this movie provides. See it, bub.