It only took hearing the opening bars of Jonny Cash’s ‘Hurt’ during the much talked-about trailer for Logan for people to realise this wasn’t going to be your average X-Men movie. Indeed, Logan is certainly not the regular, family-friendly fantasy feature produced by the franchise with it risky R-Rating. It is so much darker and more brutal, making the other X-Men films look like the Teletubbies.
We catch up with Logan (Hugh Jackman, obviously) in the year 2029 and mutants are now a dying breed. Even the invincible Logan has started to finally age and he is caring for an invalid and volatile Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart) by day, whilst working as a limo driver by night. It is very clear we are no longer watching a superhero film, because these guys are no longer superheroes.
What follows is a tale that is constantly strumming the heartstrings like Jonny Cash’s bloody guitar in that trailer and it will take someone with a heart of adamantium not to shed a tear. It is very much a eulogy to a franchise which is not at an end, but seems to have lost its heart. Logan takes it claws and rips it out to show us all it is most definitely there.
The language, violence and gore from the outset all mark this as not a family film. Logan is mostly clawing people through the head and there are even murderous children involved too. This is executed so unbelievably well and a welcome respite from the CG-ridden gun/laser-beam fights we are accustomed to from current titles in this genre. Despite the obvious lack of realism, the fighting feels very real.
The sheer brutality of the (slightly absurd amount of) killing contributes to the sense of underlying rage that carries the film to its emotional climax. And (if we take this into the world of super-metaphor) this rage seems fitting because it is the combined rage of the franchise, The Wolverine and the fans that Logan (or even Jackman) could never stay this all-powerful Wolverine forever.
Jackman’s performance is raw, perhaps because there is a sense his career is so intricately entwined with the Wolverine that he has almost become him. He has certainly aged with him and there is something heart-breaking about how he is no longer this chiselled, baby-oiled tank of muscle who takes his shirt off whenever he isn’t in intense conversation. (Not undoing Jackman’s clear attempts to bulk up again, he does still make all 48 year-old men look like anaemic twigs).
This, paired with a considered script full of singular, simple lines bound to make you reflect on pretty much everything in life, charges Logan with the kind of emotion you rarely get from this genre. There is a steady but careful build to a climax which high-octane viewers may find frustrating, but what a climax it is. The final fifteen minutes of the film become so steeped in meaning, it will take a while for you to get over how many metaphors are at play.
When it isn’t breaking you down however, Logan offers plenty of the action, adventure and even comedic relief. No human being on this earth cannot take joy in hearing Patrick Stewart swearing like a trooper and there are plenty of gentle comical moments which often play to the warm relationship between Charles and Logan. There are still enough fight and chase scenes to keep everyone happy and there is something weirdly mesmerising about watching that crazy Mexican kid Laura (Daphne Keen) tear people apart. Who also deserves a mention by the way, despite her few lines.
In short, Logan is a defining film which stands alone from the X-Men franchise. It takes a light to the story of ‘The Wolverine’ in a way that has never been done before and proves that once you strip the gloss of the other films away, The Wolverine’s story is actually the most heart-wrenching. For surely the story of a man who can never die and subsequently struggles to love is the saddest of all?