By Luke Hutton (England)
When asked what was the best movie trailer of 2016, not many would argue if you chose James Mangolds’ Logan trailer for the 2017 Wolverine Spinoff / Hugh Jackman finale to the X-Men franchise and one of the many roles which have defined his lone career – a role which has been with him since the original X-Men movie from 2001.
The trailer encapsulated what this movie is about – it’s the end of Wolverine and Johnny Cash’s harrowing version of Hurt as the trailer music was the cherry on the top. It also made a movie, which was only 5 months away at the time, go from one of the movies I was going to see at my own leisure, to a movie which is now solidly in my top 10, if not 5, of most anticipated movies of 2017.
But great trailers sometimes do not mean a great movie (Ridley Scott’s Counsellor and Prometheus both spring to mind). However Logan doesn’t find itself stuck in this category and delivers a satisfying conclusion to a rollercoaster which is both the X-Men series and Wolverines own trilogy.
Set in the year 2029, a weary Logan cares for an ailing Professor X in a hideout on the Mexican border, in a world where Mutants are a thing of the past. But their attempts to hide from the world and his legend are brought into question when a young mutant arrives, being pursued by her past.
This movie works in so many ways and leads to one of the most satisfying experiences I have seen in the past 5 years of cinema.
Hugh Jackman yet again knocks the role Wolverine out of the park and then some, something he’s been doing for almost two decades. But this Logan is different from all the incarnations we have seen on the silver screen up until now. He’s weak, his healing isn’t as effective as it once was and the things that made him so strong and lethal in his past… are the things that are killing him.
Patrick Stewart is superb yet again as Charles Xavier and, like Logan, finds himself in a way where he is both the weakest, and strongest remaining mutant alive. It did actually hurt every time I watched a scene with him however, as this once great man was crazy and could not remember the heroic past he once was part of, or even what he was doing 5 minutes before. Without spoiling the plot, there is one scene which stands out when Charles remembers something from the past – and it is heartbreaking.
However the situation they find themselves in leads to a great dynamic between the two where there relationship is now no longer teacher and student, but more of a father and son relationship and throwing in the concept of X-23 and her past (I’ll get to her in a second), leads to an even larger family dynamic and the care Charles shows to X-23 is so similar to that of a Grandfather caring for their Granddaughter.
X-23, however, is portrayed fantastically by newcomer (Dafne Keen), who now joins a very small list of Child actors who hasn’t frustrated me in a movie. Her constant struggles throughout the movie, especially trying to fit into the normal world and her constantly wondering “what is a real family?” Is both interesting and makes you fully grasp her situation, and the past she has suffered.
The supporting cast are also strong. Steven Merchant portrayal of another incarnation of the mutant Caliban (the second one in as many movies) is a solid performance and it gives us a better look into what Caliban’s powers can actually do. Boyd Holbrook’s performance as Pierce, leader of a group of enhanced humans, known as the Reavers, the main antagonists of the movie, does well with what he is given and presents a character who will do whatever he has to to get the target, or what he sees as “something that belongs to him” in this case.
Richard E Grant, however, is poorly used in this movie. As a man who is the true head of the Reavers, his role is minimal and his impact in the overall storytelling is null. And the things he does have a hand in, in regards to the plot and overall lore of the universe, could’ve been completed by someone else entirely, or fleshed out more than what was shown here.
To me, his performance and one plot line which seemed unnecessary and which I felt could’ve been done a lot better than what we got (you’ll know what I’m talking about when you see it) were the only two big gripes I had with this movie.
But the characters are not the only thing which makes this movie, the overall story is solid. The movie is, when you look back at it, a Road Trip / Escort mission movie. Where one guy (Logan in this case) is given the task of escorting something to the other side of the country within a week. For comic fans that might sound familiar as that is the main story for “Old Man Logan” the comic which this movie is based off. And this movie follows closer to the source material than I was expecting, there is even a reference which only Old Man Logan readers would recognise.
But one part of Old Man Logan I did not expect to see was the same amount of violence and gore… Boy was I wrong. This movie is R-Rated and it goes about reminding you not even 2 minutes into it. There was no Logan bursting out of the Hulk’s stomach like in the comic (for a multitude of reasons) but the sheer number of amputated limbs within this movie make up for that, and then some, there is even a quick moment where Logan is flashed by someone on a bachelorette party… I kid you not… they went for that R-Rating and then some.
All in all, this movie is everything I wanted to be. A fitting end to Hugh Jackman (and Patrick Stewart for that matter) in the X-Men film universe and it gave us the Wolverine movie we have been waiting for, for so long. The ending, despite I know it not sitting well for some, for me was both satisfying and emotional. The last 5 minutes of this film gave Logan the unprecedented record of being the only movie to bring me to tears in the cinema. Thank you Hugh Jackman for the past 17 Years of being our favourite claw wielding mutant. Farewell, Bub.