X-Men made its transition to the silver screen at the turn of the new millennium and has been through a series of highs & lows ever since. In the last 17 years, the franchise came up with sequels, prequels, reboots & spin-offs and while not all its chapters were well-received, the character of Logan aka Wolverine, played by Hugh Jackman, is one aspect that has consistently garnered praise from viewers n critics alike throughout the X-Men universe. Having played his signature role for all these years in nearly all instalments of the series, Jackman has made the eponymous character entirely his own. And now, he makes a final return to bid farewell to his most famous role that catapulted him into Hollywood stardom.
Blending the gritty, violent & bleak ruggedness of old-school westerns with the silent rumination of a hard-hitting, powerfully captivating & emotionally dense drama, Logan is unlike any other X-Men film to date, or any comic book film for that matter. Making full use of the opportunity & creative freedom provided by its R-rating, and subverting the existing superhero formula in the process, Hugh Jackman’s swan song to the character that made him a household name delivers a finale so memorable that fans couldn’t have asked for a better conclusion, for this final instalment in the Wolverine saga isn’t simply the finest X-Men film but is impressive enough to garner a spot amongst the greatest works of its genre.
The third & final Wolverine-centric film and tenth entry in the X-Men universe, the story of Logan unfolds in a dystopian future where mutants are on the verge of extinction, and follows its titular mutant who has surrendered to alcohol in an effort to distance himself from his past. Way past his prime, Logan now spends his days working as a chauffeur while caring for the ailing Charles Xavier along with another mutant in an abandoned location across the border. But a chain of events are set in motion when a mysterious young girl appears on his doorstep who is very much like him and is being chased by an evil corporation. Coerced by Xavier, Logan agrees to embark on one final adventure to take her to safety.
Directed by James Mangold, the final appearance of Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine in a feature film is approached from a different perspective as Mangold discards the formulaic narrative for a premise that carries a more human, more personal & more contemplative tone & feel. It does pack the attributes of a superhero film but those elements are firmly grounded in reality, as the aim here is to examine the strife, scars & struggles of a man, crumbling under the weight of a haunting past. Also commendable is the sweeping shift in tonality, pace & setting, for the film has more in common with a western than the genre its predecessors belong to, plus its funeral-like quality is further enhanced by its R-rated savagery.
The script packs a tightly structured plot, full-bodied characters & interesting arc trajectories that allow it to reverberate on a personal level with the audience and is refined enough to work as a standalone instalment in the X-Men universe. The main focus remains on Logan plus his cathartic journey is highly compelling but the core ingredient that forms the soul of this story is the relationship dynamics between him & Xavier and him & Laura, with the former carrying the combined weight of their time together while the latter moments are brought to life with patience. And it is the careful handling of all these elements that turns Logan into a deftly layered but ultimately rewarding meditation on life, death & family.
Production design team contribute to its post-apocalyptic setting by keeping the set pieces & sci-fi props to its bare minimum, while the sensibly chosen shooting locations provide more authenticity to its western iconography. Cinematography encapsulates the entire picture with a gritty ambience and methodically employs the camera as per the requirements of the scene, for its movements are dynamic & full of rage during moments of action while calm & controlled in the character interaction segments, plus it switches from one to another in a seamless & fluid fashion. Editing allows the narrative to unravel at its own pace & also gives each character their own space to breathe freely. And last but definitely not the least, Marco Beltrami’s evocative score simply fits.
Coming to the acting department, Logan finds Hugh Jackman & Patrick Stewart reprising their iconic roles of Logan/Wolverine & Charles Xavier/Professor X, respectively while Dafne Keen, Boyd Holbrook, Stephen Merchant & others are fresh additions. Jackman, in his last appearance as the titular character, delivers his finest performance to date and it is by all means a perfect send-off to a role that has defined his entire career. Stewart is another highlight and chips in with a nuanced & well-measured portrait of the original X-Man in what’s possibly his final outing as well. Keen plays the young kid whose arrival puts this story into motion, and she renders her part with such ferocity & controlled aggression that she steals all her moments with remarkable ease.
On an overall scale, Logan is an absolute rarity in modern superhero filmmaking that subverts established tropes & defies genre conventions to deliver a cinema so fresh, unique & groundbreaking that it effortlessly transcends the comic book landscape. Add to that, its skin-slashing violence makes the audience feel every bit of its razor-sharp intensity when those adamantium claws lacerate a human body. Pitched at the very divide between art & entertainment, it is a thoughtful, melancholic, hardcore, merciless & artfully constructed cinema that delivers on all fronts. In a sentence, Logan is what a great comic book film looks like when it’s crafted by artists who, above all, are passionate about the project. You should take a moment. Feel it. Cherish it. Because this irrefutable masterpiece truly lives up to its hype & expectations, and then some more. Strongly recommended.