And now for something completely different …
Hugh Jackman (allegedly) is saying goodbye to Wolverine with Logan, a total shocker of a superhero movie that lays waste to the X-Men and stand-alone Wolverine movies that came before it. Director James Mangold, who piloted the decent The Wolverine, revamps the character’s mythos, and pulls in Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart) for the gritty, bloody, nasty, awesome ride.
It’s the future, and the X-Men are gone. A mutant hasn’t been born in a quarter-century, and Logan isn’t looking too hot. He’s driving a limo to make ends meet, coughing up blood and not aging well.
However, he’s doing a lot better than Xavier (the mutant formally known as Professor X), who is prone to seizures and suffering from some sort of degenerative brain disease. Logan has to keep him in a big, empty tank to shield the world from his spells, which can cause major physical distress to those in the vicinity, including Logan. He gets help in caring for Xavier from Caliban (comedian Stephen Merchant), an albino mutant with mind powers.
Just when it seems as if Logan and Xavier will waste away in their miserable existence, along comes Laura (a dynamite Dafne Keen). She’s a genetically engineered mutant equipped with the same retractable claws and viciously bad temper as Logan. When her life becomes endangered, Logan throws her and Xavier in the back of his vehicle, and they depart on one wild, dark road trip.
To say this movie is violent would be an understatement. On the heels of Deadpool and its R-rated success, Mangold and company let the flesh and profanity rip with this one. Mangold brings some of his Western chops (he directed 3:10 to Yuma) to the proceedings, even making direct references to Shane. The liberties he’s been allowed to take with an otherwise family-friendly franchise are remarkable: People die hard in this one, and nobody is sporting fancy uniforms.
The action scenes are flawless, marvels of special effects and awards-worthy editing. There is a scene involving Xavier having an especially bad seizure that is one of the best I have ever seen in an action film. You’ll know it when you see it.
Jackman has always been a terrific Wolverine. He has a firm seat in the Superhero Performance Hall of Fame with the likes of Reeve, Keaton, Bale and Downey. He’s all-in for this picture, and he’s finally allowed to take Logan, aka Wolverine, to his most violent, sadistic extremes. There’s no holding back with his work here; it’s a fitting conclusion to his run with the character.
There’s a long way to go in this film year, but Stewart should already be getting some Oscar buzz for his turn in this movie. While Jackman takes Wolverine to an extreme some of us geeks might expect, Stewart is allowed to explore the sad, broken side of Xavier, and it’s absolutely heartbreaking. He has some of the greater moments of his career in this film.
All elements of this movie are grade-A spectacular: Logan is one of the very best comic-book films ever made. If you were to call it the best ever, you wouldn’t be met with much opposition. It’s an example of a great idea delivered with stupendous results.
The last two weeks have given us Get Out and Logan. The movie year is off to one of its best starts in many years. As for the X-Men franchise, it’s doubtful the accomplishments of Logan will ever be topped … but it will be interesting to see somebody try.
Logan is playing at theaters across the valley.