Dafne Keen and Hugh Jackman as Laura and Wolverine in 'Logan.' Courtesy of BEN ROTHSTEIN/20TH CENTURY FOX.

Review: ‘Logan’ (2017)

by Stephen Dominguez
Dafne Keen and Hugh Jackman as Laura and Wolverine in 'Logan.' Courtesy of BEN ROTHSTEIN/20TH CENTURY FOX.

Dafne Keen and Hugh Jackman as Laura and Wolverine in ‘Logan.’ Courtesy of BEN ROTHSTEIN/20TH CENTURY FOX.

The Marvel Comics’ character of Wolverine has been around since 1974 and quickly became one of the most popular characters in the history of the company. With the mythic popularity that the character commands, he would naturally be among the first Marvel characters to be premiered on the big screen as the main character of the X-Men movies that came about in the 2000’s. While Hugh Jackman’s performance has been praised for his work as the character, there has always been a sizeable, vocal population that has criticized the movies for not accurately representing the character.

It’s not that they hated Hugh Jackman, but they have been saying quite often that the movies have created a more sanitized version of the character. Instead of being a short, hairy, hyper-masculine, beer-chugging, cigar chomping, trigger-happy hot head who just happens to be on the side of the good guys, the movies offer a tall, handsome man who is much less violent and much more polite than as he was originally presented. While adaptations can tweak characters to suit the interests of the movie, these hardcore fans felt jilted when their beloved character was placed as the lead in sub-par movies or as glorified cameos in later team movies. While the animated world has been doing a great job in bringing the rougher, gruffer parts to the wider public, these works just weren’t the same as watching actual actors portray the character they had come to love. So after seventeen years and eight movies, is Logan finally the movie that these fans have been clamoring for?

Logan, a movie directed by James Mangold and starring Jackman, Sir Patrick Stewart, and Dafne Keen, offers from the first three minutes a different X-Men film than any other. Logan wakes up in the back of the limo he drives being vandalized by a Latino gang, and the ensuing events confirm that the film earns its R rating, as characters offer each other curses and usher a shocking level of violence as Logan protects the limo he uses to make a living. The audience soon finds out that the Wolverine offered here is an old, beaten, bitter, self-destructing man who no longer has direction or purpose besides caring for an old friend. All of this would change when a mysterious woman offers him money to take herself and a young girl across the country to a safe haven away from a shady organization pursuing them.

The rest of the story follows the same somber, bleak tone of these first few minutes, but is packed with layers of nuance and emotion that are absent in most other films in its same “universe” (Fox has never been a studio that cares about to having accurate timelines, but think of this movie as an Elseworlds comic) or in so many other comic book movies ever made. It’s part character study and part family drama, it’s an X-Men movie and the closest thing to a The Last of Us adaption created thus far, while also being a science fiction Western hybrid.

That Western label is key to understanding how this movie presents itself, as Wolverine in this movie isn’t closer to Superman or Batman, but to Ethan Edwards, Bill Munny, and Malcolm Reynolds. The other heroes are also just as damaged. Stewart’s Charles Xavier is an ailing old man, lamenting a life he thinks was meaningless. Stewart has been around for just as long as Jackman has in these roles, and it’s just as sad to see this hopeful figure he portrays in such a helpless state. Keen’s Laura is a scared girl who understands that her life is held on by the thinnest of threads. She was also the most pleasant surprise in the movie. She does not make Laura act like a super competent Mary-Sue, but as an emotionally stunted kid who doesn’t know table etiquette or how mechanical horses work and gets by into fights by relying on raging instinct.

The technical aspects of this movie are no slouch either. This is not a short movie, and the pace can feel a little slow, but it’s completely necessary as there are no superfluous scenes. The editing is tight and efficient, in both the momentary cut to cut transitions and in the structure of the movie in its entirety. The score is not immediately obvious, but it gets the job done in the scenes when it’s needed. As with the direction, cinematography, and acting, the movie was made with a clear level of love and dedication. This isn’t just a great comic book movie. It’s a great movie, period.

So, is this movie the great Wolverine movie that was promised? Well, other movies featuring Wolverine focused on the “cool” portions of his character: the mysteries of his past, the Weapon X program, his time in Japan, and of course the infinitely cool claws. This movie instead focuses on the more tragic areas of the character – the self-loathing, the inability to connect with people – and is all the better for it. This man is broken, angry, and tired, and gets as close to the comic book counterpart than has ever been on the silver screen. So we can say without a doubt True Believers, that your wait is over, your faith has been rewarded; this is the Wolverine movie you have been waiting for.

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