LOGAN Review: Hugh Jackman And James Mangold Deliver A Perfect Swansong For This Version Of Wolverine

LOGAN Review: Hugh Jackman And James Mangold Deliver A Perfect Swansong For This Version Of Wolverine

Coming off a very positive reaction from critics, James Mangold's Logan finally hits theaters early next month. Click for my spoiler-free thoughts on Hugh Jackman's final time in the claws as Wolverine.

Wolverine has always been my favorite comic book character. When I was about 7 years old, my brother gave me issue #222 of The Uncanny X-Men (the cover of which depicted Wolvie rushing into battle against Sabertooth) and I was hooked. Sure, he looked cool and shot metal claws out of his hands, but I think it was more to do with the tragic nature of this savage superhero; the perennial loner that chose to remain part of a team because it was the closest thing he had to a family, but was terrified of letting anyone get too close in case he got them killed.

Hugh Jackman's take on Logan took a few liberties, for sure, but I always felt he nailed the most important aspects of ol' Canucklehead, and over the years managed to carve out a cinematic interpretation of Wolverine that embodied the things that made me so fascinated with the character in the first place. Now, Jackman and director James Mangold have delivered a swan song for this particular incarnation of The Wolverine that, at least for this lifelong fan, is approaching perfection.

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Logan really isn't like any superhero movie that's come before it, and not just because of that much-discussed R-rated violence. First and foremost, it's focused on telling a story that serves its characters, and not some shared cinematic universe or ongoing film franchise. Yes, there are exciting action scenes and set pieces, but they spring organically from the narrative and never feel like they were shoved in just in case the audience might be getting a bit bored by all the "talking stuff". The movie is not afraid to take its time and really let us live with these broken-down icons for a while, getting under their skin in ways we have never experienced before.

Jackman has never been better as the jaded former X-Man of the title, and his performance is something that really should earn him every award going. We've seen him play Wolverine as the reluctant hero before, but here he genuinely doesn't give a damn about anything and just wants to be left in peace to drive his limo and save up enough cash to get him and the ailing Charles Xavier out on the ocean to live out their remaining days. He drinks, he swears, he kills, and he has definitely given up all hope of any kind of redemption. Then, a silent little girl comes along and forces him to acknowledge the fact that there might just be a bit of the old Wolverine left in him after all.

Though this is obviously Jackman's film, his supporting cast matches him every step of the way. Patrick Stewart's infirm, profane Professor X is a little hard to take at first because he is the anthesis of the version of the character we usually see him play - however, as the story progresses we come to realize that there is a very good reason for this, and Stewart's heartbreaking portrayal is simply superb. Stephen Merchant is also very good as Caliban in a slightly larger role than you may have been expecting, and Dafne Keen is a revelation as Laura/X-23. Boyd Holbrook is intimidatingly effective as the sadistic Donald Piece, but he's not really given enough to do in the final act and is made to share screen time with Richard E. Grant's mad scientist villain, who, to be honest, barely registers.

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The studio's embracing of the R-rating does allow Mangold to show the results of the violence (and Logan is shockingly brutal at times), but it's also given him the freedom to set a very specific tone and pace, and ultimately craft a film for grown ups - not just those that happen to be old enough to see a bit of blood. There is a definite Western vibe to much of it (which the haunting score and gorgeous cinematography can attest to), but various other influences are evident. In fact, one terrifying extended sequence owes more to the horror genre than anything else.

Logan presents us with a dark, devastating final journey for one of cinema's most enduring comic book characters. Though it is undoubtedly bleak, there are also moments of much-needed warmth, and ultimately a sense of hope resonates. It may not be a perfect film, but it is the perfect send-off for Jackman's Wolverine, and will likely stay with you for a long time after you've left the theater.

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