The difficulty with many long-running tales to astonish is giving it a proper ending that ties all loose ends, pays homage to the characters that we have spent years getting to love, and making their quests finally feel complete. That is what James Mangold’s second and final Wolverine flick has to fulfill with an R-rated spectacle that allows the clawed Canadian to let loose and truly break all of the barriers; this is Wolverine’s last ride.
Hugh Jackman returns for his 9th (or 10th when including the Deadpool (2016) magazine) and final outing as the cigar smoking, adamantium-coated, Weapon X in a distant future where mutants have nearly all died out. Logan cares for an aged and decaying Professor X (Patrick Stewart) with Caliban (Stephen Merchant) while living his remaining years out as a limousine driver trying to make some extra cash and keep the last part of his old life safe. When Laura (Dafne Keen), a girl shrouded in mystery, shows up on the run from Donald Pierce (Boyd Holbrook), and throws Logan’s life back into the ‘hero’ business, he refuses. Logan is not the same as he was, and his redevelopment back into his ‘old’ self takes an adventure full of gore, emotion, and enough action to keep your eyes unblinking.
First off, spoilers will be included; beyond here, it’s on you. Laura is Logan’s biological daughter put through the Weapon X process in order to create a controlled batch of mutants rather than the unrestrained batch that was killed off years prior. Logan’s world is dark and full of mysteries that slowly get answered as the tale goes on. Questions about what happened to the X-Men or the overall mutant population are answered in pieces and each part makes it ever more devastating.
This form of storytelling hits harder when some characters (Professor X) forget that they caused a few of those problems and then have to explain it to a young girl who just met her only family. Logan, as a whole, is centered on the characters and showing who they are now and building them up to the ending. It is about redemption for a time past and trying to build a future out of the hell they both helped create and suffer through. It is heartbreaking to see how far these two mutants went to fix the past to still end up in a broken future.
Jackman and Stewart are phenomenal in their final outings giving plenty of emotional moments that will make even the most stoic shed a tear. Stewart is, for once, nearly helpless as Xavier and shows weakness when he has typically been unmatched in terms of wisdom and optimism. This weakness brings all of Charles’ nightmares into the light, which creates some of the darkest moments in comic-book films. Jackman as Logan, on the other hand, is nearly uncaring because of all of the hell and torture he had experienced from his slowed healing factor to his adamantium poisoning, and having cared for Xavier and the horrors he unleased.
By the end of the film, Logan’s redemption from uncaring to hero is justified and builds his character to a point where it’s nearly saddening to let him go. Keen is perfect as X-23 and nearly matches Jackman’s rage and fury that he unleashed in the previous X-Men films, plus a huge bucket of blood and guts. She is a major highlight of the film, being third to the two veterans, which says plenty. Although he is not the primary antagonist, Holbrook plays a cold villain who takes pride in his work; in a tale of survival, he is a tough hurdle to get beyond and his mere presence is pleasing, but his actions speak plenty.
Logan (2017) as a whole may be one of the best comic-book based films ever made (better than The Dark Knight (2008)) due to a focus on characters within a tale of survival and family. It partially adheres to the comic formula, but goes far when it leaves the sources and goes freely into the void which Mangold captures in gritty detail. Logan deserves a 10 out of 10 for delivering the best X-Men film to date while not exactly being a ‘superhero’ title, but its own individual tale of an aging man longing to feel and die with it. It is the ultimate western of comic titles, and it is sad to have both Jackman and Stewart depart their respective roles. Jackman needs to come back just once. We all still want a Deadpool-Wolverine film; Jackman and Reynolds have been edging it on for too long.
Enjoy the day.