As the first R-rated Wolverine film and Hugh Jackman’s final time portraying his most famous character, “Logan” more than lives up to its hype. Hugh Jackman has played the part of James “Logan” Howlett, better known as Wolverine from the X-men, for 17 years over nine films. The culmination of his experience as the character is clearly visible as he delves deep into the psyche of the popular hero one last time.
The film is set in the year 2029, a future in which the X-men no longer exist and no new mutant has been born in 25 years. However, a science company called Alkali-Transigen has managed to artificially manufacture mutants through genetic manipulation. Laura is one of these mutants and is on the run as the company wants the whole program terminated along with the test subjects. Though Logan is initially reluctant to help the girl, he eventually caves and decides to defend Laura until she can meet up with the other children who escaped. This leads Logan, Laura and Professor Xavier, the former mentor and leader of the X-men, on a cross-country journey with both action-packed sequences and sweet family moments.
“Logan” demonstrates right off the bat that this won’t be like any of the other X-men films with the brutal mutilation and murder of a band of thugs by the hands (well, claws) of none other than Logan. His movements, however, are clearly sloppy and his healing factor is failing him. At this point, it dawns on the audience that Logan is no longer the invincible hero he has always been. This is the same for Professor Xavier; once a powerful mutant with psionic powers, his old age has affected his mental edge and made him susceptible to seizures.
The exploration of everyday human problems is something that other superhero films have not expanded deeply upon before, and brings a sense of humanity to this film. While Logan and Professor X were once powerful heroes, they now struggle with the same problems that any aging human would face. Logan even has to work as a limousine driver in order to pay for Professor X’s medication.
Though the fast-paced, gory action scenes that I had anticipated seeing since the reveal of the movie’s R-rating definitely contributed to the overall high quality of the movie, surprisingly, it was the character development that really made the film worthwhile. The movie had a runtime of two hours and 15 minutes, which gave rise to a few scenes when the movie felt drawn-out. But this also gave ample time to expand upon the relationship between Professor X, Logan and Laura. What begins as a strained alliance slowly developed into an intimate family bond through the time they spend together. Without focusing on this complicated yet touching relationship, the film would not have had nearly the emotional impact that it did.
Another surprise that I got from watching “Logan” was that it played much like an old western film, particularly the western classic “Shane” which they reference explicitly. Logan, a retired hero, takes out his claws for one last fight against those who threaten the peace, much like how Shane came out of retirement to rid a Wyoming town of an evil man named Ryker. Additionally, most of the movie’s scenes are in desert, plains, or forest settings, all of which are characteristics of the wild west. Even the musical score, which included “Hurt” by Johnny Cash, contributed to the country and western vibes.
Overall, this was a huge improvement from the other X-men films and ranks high amongst the best superhero movies. The blend of its serious tone, heartwarming relationships and grand action scenes sets “Logan” distinctly apart from the other superhero movies.