Since the X-Men debuted on film in 2000, Hugh Jackman has been the reigning star of 20th Century Fox produced Marvel Comics franchise. Despite whatever ups and downs the movies themselves have experienced throughout the years (with almost as many praised films as there are panned ones), Jackman has been one of the most consistently praised parts of any X-Men movie he’s appeared in. After nearly 17 years and appearances and cameos all 8 prior X-Men films; not including an indirect cameo in ‘Deadpool’; Hugh Jackman has decided that now is the time to step away from the character of Wolverine. As much as that reality hasn’t yet set in, the cast and crew of this film made sure that he would go out putting his best foot forward.
In near future where the mutant population is waning, an ageing and battle wearing Logan (Wolverine), aka James Howlette, cares for an ailing Professor Charles Xavier in a hide out on the Mexican border. But Logan’s attempts to hide from the world and his legacy are up-ended when a new young mutant arrives, being pursued by dark forces. Based in part on the graphic novel ‘Old Man Logan’ and influenced by film westerns (one of which, ‘Unforgiven’, inspired the graphic novel), Logan perfectly captures the spirit of these characters while reflecting them under a different lens than we are used to from the X-Men franchise. Director James Mangold, who also shares writing credits on this project, has set out to craft a different and more personally focused story than normally offered by the genre and has resounding succeeded in that goal.
Hugh Jackman (Logan) and Patrick Stewart (Xavier) drive this home further with fantastic performances that speak to the heart of their respective characters. We get the sense of weariness, pain and desire to not draw attention to himself in Logan who is a step slower and in more constant discomfort as his mutant healing factor starts to slow down with age, revealing scars of a long violent life lived across his ravaged body. And although Xavier’s health and mental faculties are not where they once were earlier in earlier films; his charm, love, hope and optimism in both mankind as well as mutantkind shine through brighter than ever and might be Patrick Stewart’s best performance as this character. Notable mention goes to Boyd Holbrook as villain Donald Pierce and Stephan Merchant playing fellow mutant Caliban. Even Dafne Keen does her part as Laura (aka X-23), as do numerous supporting characters we encounter through this film. Despite that, it is the portrayals of Logan and Xavier that carry this film above all else.
Not only do our characters find themselves in a much different place, under vastly different circumstances than we have seen them before, but the tone and presentation of this film is very different too. We follow a more personal journey for Logan, Xavier and Laura where their personal relationships and interactions are heavily focused upon. Along with the greater focus on character, comes less restriction on violence. While most films based on superhero characters go for a PG or PG-13 rating to attract as wide an audience as possible, the success of ‘Deadpool’ did show that when used at the right time and in the right measure with the right characters, setting a higher rating on the film can further enhance the overall product. Logan’s 16 age rating is one of those cases where a character like Wolverine benefits from the added violence his adamantium claws can cause and delivers the type of action we have always wanted from a film about this character. Add to the fact that this film also looks a little dirtier and a little grittier.
We have developed such a love for the characters of Logan and Xavier in the seventeen years we’ve been watching them and they in turn have built up such emotional equity with us viewers. We feel ever worse for them with every blow landed and tense up that much more with every near miss. Even viewers who have not followed these characters for anywhere near that long will likely get sucked right in and loose themselves in this story. We learn personal truths and follow these characters on their literal journey as well as their emotional one that every action scene from minutes in until the end captivates and keeps us on the edge of our seat and even the down time in between keeps us engaged.
We could not have asked for a better film than Logan to bid farewell to this version of Wolverine. It’s the Wolverine film we have always wanted and one I am glad we have finally got. Whether or not Wolverine appears in another X-Men film remains to be seen, although Twentieth Century Fox seems determined to make more as well as further franchise spin-offs. This film is such a fantastic effort and ends on such a poignant note that this should arguably mark the end of the franchise altogether. Although Fox is unlikely to sell or allow the rights to the X-Men revert back to Marvel Studios anytime soon, the actors and characters go out on such a high note that it’s hard to imagine future films topping it. Highly Recommended!
Reviewed on: Cinema 2D
Available on: Cinema 2D, IMAX
Genre: Action, Drama, Superhero
Age Rating: 16
Estimated RRP: R50 – R150
Release Date: 3 March 2017
- Personal character driven story
- More graphic violence but doesn’t feel overly excessive for voilence sake
- Provides another fresh approach to the genre
- Reportedly the final portray of Logan/Wolverine by Hugh Jackman
- Possibly Patrick Stewart’s final portrayal as Charles Xavier