DIR: James Mangold • WRI: Scott Frank, James Mangold, Michael Green • PRO: Simon Kinberg, Hutch Parker, Lauren Shuler Donner • DOP: John Mathieson • ED: Michael McCusker, Dirk Westervelt • DES: François Audouy • MUS: Marco Beltrami • CAST: Hugh Jackman, Patrick Stewart, Dafne Keen
As the superhero genre keeps generating film after film without any sign of fatigue, the presence of the X-Men franchise amidst Disney’s MCU and Warner Bros.’ DC universe has become somewhat baffling with each new entry. Certainly, Bryan Singer established a way to make superheroes cool for non-comic book fans with the first instalment, but despite their popularity in audiences’ memories, none of its nine entries have aged particularly well. With its addition of a tenth film, Logan, aging itself has come to encapsulate the overall mood of the franchise. Its trailers were certainly attention-grabbing, with Johnny Cash’s moody swansong “Hurt” playing over shots of a wounded and greyed Wolverine. Even the tagline “His Time Has Come” has embraced the greater sense of finality that hangs over the possibility of Hugh Jackman’s silver-clawed retirement. While nothing lasts forever, if Jackman is serious in stepping down from the role that made him a superstar, Logan could not be a better note to go out on for the iconic character.
While some have suggested the film is based on Mark Millar’s “Old Man Logan” miniseries, the only connection between Logan and its source is that Wolverine has become a bitter old man. One of the very weird things about the X-Men films as a whole is its complete disregard for continuity between each film. Suffice to say, Logan ignores every previous sequel, taking place one hundred years after the original movie, in a world where mutants are nearly entirely extinct. Disguised as James Hewlitt, Logan has become a self-destructive alcoholic, saving money for himself and Charlies Xavier (Patrick Stewart) to escape out to sea on a boat. Tracked down by fugitives and a company called Transigen, Logan finds himself in the care of a small girl named X-23 (Dafne Keen), tortured and infused with his DNA, leaving him no other choice than to go on the run to protect himself, Charles, and his daughter. But, dying of the very adamantium which gives him his powers, Logan becomes greatly uncertain of how he might succeed with his abilities becoming inert and a gun-for-hire named Donald Pierce (Boyd Holbrook) always hunting him down to cover up Transigen’s mistakes for good.
Some of the best superhero movies of the past decade have been those that mesh themselves with more established Hollywood genres of old. The Dark Knight was a crime-thriller; Guardians of the Galaxy was a science-fiction space opera; and Captain America: The Winter Soldier was a paranoid conspiracy film straight from the seventies. With Logan, superhero movies have amalgamated with classic westerns, most evidently Shane, but embellishing a more gritty sensibility that suits the aggressive nature of its character. There’s a clear sense of distancing from the franchise as the film begins with Hugh Jackman delivering an f-bomb to show just how adult Logan is to other X-Men films. Admittedly, such additions as foul language and gore seem like immature attempts to be taken seriously, but under James Mangold’s direction (who previously worked on The Wolverine), its explicit moments are done so in moderation and blend naturally into the world presented (that being said, it certainly isn’t for children either).
It’s an undoubtedly audacious choice on the part of everyone to toss out of everything both good and bad from previous X-Men, but Logan keeps the two most important aspects of the franchise in Hugh Jackman and Patrick Stewart themselves. Having performed the role nine times now, it’s almost easy to forget how apprehensive fans were of Fox’s announcement for Jackman in the role of the rabid Wolverine. An intense alpha-male, Wolverine was destined to diminish in popularity once the demand for steroid meatheads in 90s comics began to wane but Jackman elevated the most uninteresting character of the X-Men into culturally iconic status almost instantly. Such impact from Jackman and Stewart on the cultural consciousness of the new century means the dramatic weight in Logan is all the more impactful as a result, producing some of the most intensely affective moments in the entire series.
Even as the formulaic plotline of government/corporations versus the disenfranchised that X-Men have used for seventeen years now begins to surface, it fails to diminish from the intensity and excitement rampant throughout every scene. In a perfect world, Logan would be the complete end to X-Men, serving as a fitting tribute to a series that helped establish a genre that struggled to garner public attention for decades beforehand. In many ways, its use of Shane is an apt choice. Logan celebrates the superheroes of an older generation but admits that sometimes it’s time to move on. For its fans, this finale is as badass and poignant as they ever could have hoped, and Disney and Warner Bros. are going to have a tough time competing this year for the best superhero movie of 2017.
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Logan is released 1st March 2017
Logan – Official Website