As one of the many Wolverine spin-offs from the long-lasting X-Men franchise, Logan, on paper, was expected to be an average film at best. However, Marvel have managed to flip the Wolverine story on its back and bring us a surprise superhero masterpiece.
Set in 2029, the mutant population is almost extinct and Logan’s healing powers are beginning to dwindle. He is an alcoholic and works as a chauffeur so he can care for Professor Charles Xavier, who now suffers from a neurodegenerative disease which causes his powers to become unpredictable and dangerous. Logan is approached by a woman asking him to take her daughter to a mysterious place called Eden to keep her safe from a secret corporation who want her mutant DNA. With his responsibilities now compromised, Logan must decide whether to use his powers for good or continue his downward spiral.
Logan takes a far more mature look at the world of the X-Men and superheroes in general than any previous movie in the franchise, examining what happens when they grow old and can’t control their bodies anymore. It is heart-breaking to see such loved characters as Professor X and Wolverine become weak and vulnerable, with Xavier’s brain disease causing him to have seizures that can be fatal to those around him if he doesn’t take his medication, and Logan’s skin turning to scars as his powers seem to wear off – all of which reminds us that despite their powers, these mutants are not indestructible.
During the film we are introduced to Laura, the young mutant who Logan must now protect from the secret organisation after her DNA. She was bred in captivity and trained to become a soldier, and as a result is very young, but she is extremely powerful and holds powers like those of Logan himself.
There is not one bad performance in this film. Everyone holds their own and brings their character to life. Even Stephen Merchant carries off his West Country accent as Caliban, the albino tracking mutant. Dafne Keen, who plays Laura, is a newcomer to film and she is absolutely brilliant, sure to be a rising star of the future. With this being both Hugh Jackman and Patrick Stewart’s last outing as their respective characters, they both really deliver the emotion in this final instalment of the Wolverine franchise.
New director to the franchise James Mangold has ensured that the characters have truly gone out with a bang. Hailed as one of the best superhero movies ever, certainly in the Marvel franchise, Logan is drawing comparisons with The Dark Knight for its new take on the well-known franchise, creating a darker and grittier world and exploring real world issues in the fictitious universe. X-Men has always covered quite sinister issues that mirror real life, but placing it in this dystopian not so distant future can only reflect on real-world prejudices.
Speaking of directing, it’s clear that Mangold’s influence and vision for the film is what really elevates it to masterpiece material. There actually seems to be a beauty present in the cinematography here that we just don’t normally see in CGI-filled superhero movies. The backdrop of the Mexican desert and sunset hues give a hazy and yet harsh, bleak feel, and the omittance of the expected Marvel one-liners at every opportunity often makes the viewer forget that you’re watching a film about mutants entirely, instead turning it into a drama piece about the responsibility of family.
The violence in Logan has been ramped up quite a few notches too. Marvel has always been distinctly family-friendly in the execution of its fight scenes, but with the success of Deadpool, they knew the adult audience was ready and waiting. What Deadpool is to crudeness, Logan is to brutality – and it works.
We give Logan a well-deserved 5 stars for changing the superhero game, and for showing that you can combine this seemingly stereotypical genre with real directorial vision to create something even better than the norm.
Whilst the film may not be suitable for the younger audience, its a standout piece of work from Marvel, and feels like the X-Men film we’ve wanted all along. It may be the end of an era, but Wolverine certainly goes out on a high.
Logan is still showing in some cinemas now, but be quick! See the trailer below for a glimpse of the mutant action – it’s a truly beautiful trailer too.