Wolverine once wore a black spandex costume, but Logan now wears a chauffeur uniform.
Director/Writer James Mangold’s take on old man Logan is the anti-superhero movie, much closer to a dark Western mixed with a road flick. Gamers are likely to see plenty of The Last of Us here as Jackman’s grey and grizzled Wolverine channels Joel’s tortured journey and reluctant protective role.
This stunning end of an era grounds its characters in gritty realism, intimate moments, and a healthy dash of humor to balance out the dark violence and bleak tone. It ditches the Marvel routine of world-threatening superweapons and ludicrous CGI sequences for a smaller story digging deep into its main character and his relationships. This is the best superhero movie I’ve ever seen, but that could be because it’s so far from the typical fare Marvel releases several times a year (and for the rest of eternity.)
The opening scene sets the tone as a weary Wolverine, sleeping in his car, is woken up by car-jacking gangbangers. It predictably leads to violence but flips the script as the aging Logan struggles to dispatch a group of thugs he wouldn’t have broken a sweat over in the past. His powers are fading. He’s confronting mortality.
Professor X is also more frail and vulnerable than ever. He must be taken care of and isolated to protect himself and others from his decaying, but powerful mind. This rag-tag team is miles away from the glossy suits and decadent mansions of their prime. The X-Men are gone. They aren’t celebrity heroes. They exist on the periphery, scraping by.
The film is an intimate look at the life and consequences of being Wolverine. I applaud the guts it took to pace the movie so deliberately. Logan takes its time setting the tone, lingering on moments long enough to reveal the human element. This measured pace beautifully sets up a second-act action sequence that had me pumping an imaginary fist of joy and retribution.
The slower pace is so welcomed that I can mostly forgive the nearly 2.5 hour running time. It drags at a few points near the end, but still finishes on a very satisfying note.
The action sequences are on the horror side of gory as Wolverine’s claws are fully unleashed to impale heads and slice off limbs. Logan’s newfound vulnerability lends much-needed weight and stakes to the fight scenes. He scrapes and claws his way through as the underdog.
In between the action, we get a road trip in the vein of Terminator 2, as unlikely travel companions attempt to outrun a much more powerful enemy force. It’s incredibly refreshing to see comic-book characters treated as humans, and a genre film not burdened with spin-off setups and the rest of the checklist we’re usually saddled with.
Logan is an excellent film and the perfect send-off for this era of the franchise. I can easily recommend it to any fan of Wolverine, gritty Westerns, or movie-goers looking for an R-rated action flick with a deep and troubled soul.