by Coop Cooper
Comic book movies usually follow a certain formula, especially in the first film of a franchise. As the following sequels roll in, one of two things happen… 1. They run out of fresh ideas, rehash tired cliches and the franchise dies an undignified death, or 2. They evolve into something special. Although technically a spinoff, “Logan” has surpassed its “X-Men” origins to become something so different and unexpected, it will be near impossible for future franchise installments to top it.
Set in the near future of 2029, the X-Men are gone, as are nearly all the mutants on the planet. An ailing Logan (Hugh Jackman) has fallen on hard times. Working as a limo driver in El Paso, the former X-Men leader known as ‘Wolverine’ cares for Professor Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart) who is now suffering from advanced dementia which makes his uncontrollable psychic powers dangerous to anyone nearby. When a woman (Elizabeth Rodriguez) tracks down Logan with a fugitive mutant girl (Dafne Keen) who is much like himself, Professor X and the reluctant Logan are once again put in the position of protecting a mutant from the shadowy organization that intends on using her as a weapon.
When the R-rated “Deadpool” became a surprise, runaway success, the internet whispered rumors about a potential R-rated Wolverine movie in the works. I doubted it, but when I learned FOX Studios was developing the next Wolverine movie from the “Old Man Logan” comic book storyline, I realized an R-rated film was the only way to go. “Logan” is about as dark and mature as any superhero movie ever produced. Finally we get to see the bloody destruction Wolverine’s claws can actually do and even Professor X drops a few ‘F-bombs” throughout the film.
However, this isn’t what makes the film interesting. What is interesting is the stark hopelessness and isolation presented in this world without mutants and how alone and defeated Logan and Xavier are. Logan’s powers have declined to the point where he can barely heal his wounds, making him vulnerable in a fight. He drinks incessantly and is even more surly and mean than in the previous films. His only goal is to make enough money to buy a boat so he and Xavier can die in peace. That’s pretty dark, but it gets even darker when characters begin dying horrible deaths without warning or pretense. Some very unfair tragedies happen in “Logan” and it stings even worse when it is revealed what happened to the X-Men and the students at Xavier’s school many years back.
Jackman and Stewart’s work have never been stronger, although they have both announced that this is (probably) their last time playing these iconic roles. Despite this news, and since the X-Men films frequently play with time travel and alternate timelines, “Logan” doesn’t represent the end of the franchise by any means. Upcoming X-Men films are still in development, as well as an “X-Men” TV show, a “New Mutants” film, possible “Deadpool 2” tie-ins and the new “Legion” TV series which takes place in the X-Men universe is already carrying the torch.
If I had any criticisms, it would be the lack of a proper villain to oppose Xavier and Logan. While vile bad guys are present, I was hoping an iconic X-Men villain would appear or even a former, bitter X-Man (or woman) turned evil, working with the bad guys and itching for revenge… Rogue (Anna Paquin) would have been great for this. The actual final villain that was presented was unexpected and adequate, but I can imagine what could have been. Additionally, we didn’t get to see a flashback of the tragedy that befell the X-Men and their students. Perhaps it wasn’t necessary but there needed to be more of a moment for the audience to fully understand and feel the gravity of that tragedy for Xavier and Logan.
Despite their retirement announcements, Jackman has stated that he could be tempted to return if Wolverine is allowed to join the Avengers. While this has happened many times in the comics, the cinematic odds are against it considering the issue of film rights. Stewart has also said something similar in an interview, but this is also highly unlikely. Regardless, this was a fitting and somber end to their guard as iconic superheroes. In a way it seemed to end too soon. “Logan” could have been a fitting end to all things X-Men related and it was so perfectly executed, it almost feels like a film from the future. Now it will be a bittersweet example and inspiration for many superhero films to come.
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars