“I always know who you are, Logan. But, sometimes, I don’t recognize you.”
The genres of film have gone through various changes throughout history. Look at any film of the 1980s and of today, and you will see the difference. It is also true for the superhero genre. Largely unheard of before the start of the millennium, the 21st century has been something of a boom period for it. There are so many comic book superhero based films now that it is difficult to pinpoint the very beginning. However, it can be argued that X-Men (1999) had a lot to do with the super renaissance.
As with other genres, the comic book movie genre has grown exponentially. Every few years or so comes a film that raises the bar for it. But, there comes a point when the desire for more increases. Such desire always brings about landmark change in whatever art form it concerns and said genre is no different. Many hail Deadpool as setting the trend for a new kind of comic book movie. But, it is Logan that shall be seen by history as the one that redefined the quintessential comic book film.
Hugh Jackman is back for one last turn as the iconic Wolverine but this is a Wolverine unlike anything we have ever seen. The hair is white, the skin wrinkled and his body is covered with horrific scars. The scars that are prevalent inside his head, however, form the crux of the film. This is an aged, broken man who lives in a world where the mutants are no more. He resides in a home that is basically an empty water tanker along with the legendary Professor X. Together they survive on a daily basis and their wait for the embrace of death is too obvious to miss.
That is however, the only obvious thing in this film. Why the world is this way is never explained fully and that seems like a conscious effort by director James Mangold. The decision works wonderfully. It frees the film from any continuity issues and gets to tell its own story. There are some scenes which brutally reflect the current state of affairs in America. It almost makes it a logical step to assume that this is a future Trump’s America with mutants in it.
The independent story also allows Mangold the quiet moments that have become unheard of in comic book movies. There are many moments in the film that are devoid of dialogue. But they leave so much said that it would be hard for your eyes not to well up. It is magnificent direction at work when a simple scene of some people having dinner together can have such a profound impact.
But the real reason the world waited for this film was a chance to see what every Wolverine fan had been hoping for. A film about the Wolverine that didn’t hold back or restrain itself. The film does not disappoint. This is the R-rated film Wolverine fans were waiting for. Violence is gruesome and calling it bloody would be an understatement. The language is profane and even there, no part of Logan holds back. The action is top notch and directed with great care for fans. Without revealing much, let’s just say that you will scream with joy towards the final act of the film.
You will weep as well. Logan’s strength, after all, does not lie in its flawless action or streamlined direction but in its performances. Sir Patrick Stewart plays the most vulnerable version of the character we have seen. Professor X suffering from a brain degenerative disease holds a lot of potential for compelling character beats and Stewart doesn’t disappoint. It is a testament to his talent that he is able to play a man holding on to a failing mind while not seeming deranged at all.
Hugh Jackman, of course, is the star of the film. He gives the role everything he has and succeeds phenomenally. There are moments when you can look at Jackman’s face and feel every sorrow he has undergone. You can sense the rigours of the tortuously long life he has led and at the same time, the hero that resides within the broken self. Dafne Keen plays Laura and if there is anyone in the film that matches Jackman it is her. Her connection to Logan is the bedrock of this film and what drives it to its deserved conclusion.
There is a moment in this film where Logan picks up an X-Men comic. He remarks that maybe a quarter of all that had happened and almost none of it like in the comic. Some have interpreted that remark to be on the comic book film genre itself. What if the X-Men movies were not what we saw, but the comic version that Logan tosses to the floor? None of it is clear and that is the beauty of Logan. It isn’t bothered about comic book tropes, continuity or the super hero fighting an army of aliens or a world ending threat. All that it wants to do is tell a story. A story, not of a mutant or a superhero, but of a man. A man who is tired of it all and wants to end it. Man who lays awake at night, reliving the horrors of his life. A man who wants his life to mean something.
A man who finally gets that chance. One last time.
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