Trilogies are an odd thing, aren’t they? Oh there’s plenty of them, usually in the action movie genre, but it’s very rare in these instances that the third film is the best of the three, with the possible exception of Return Of The King. And the X-Men series has three of the bloody things now, and the franchise has been kind enough to support my theory thus far. The first trilogy ended horribly with X-Men: The Last Stand; a film so utterly putrid that original director spent an entire film since then wiping it from the canon! Then there was X-Men: Apocalypse, the third in the more favourable First Class trilogy, but which was mundane to the point of my considering going back and re-reviewing it just to give it a bit more stick. And finally we have Logan; the third and final installment of the Wolverine spin-off movies, which just might be the greatest superhero film ever made. What’s that? Deadpool counts as an X-Men film? Maybe run that by me again, Wikipedia, when the studio has rebuilt their fourth wall.
So at long last we finally have a film that has done the character of Wolverine some justice, and moved away from the mutton-chopped, cigar-chomping badass to get a good look at what lies beneath the regenerative surface. James Mangold has learned some lessons from the disappointment that was The Wolverine, and the Logan we see in this film is like nothing we have ever seen before. Jackman’s portrayal of the scarred, broken and dying warrior in this film is very moving, and reminded me a lot of Clint Eastwood’s character in Unforgiven; a man well past his prime, and while fully aware that his end is coming has no idea what to do about it. Alongside Patrick Stewart’s senile and psychologically damaged Xavier, the two men make for the emotional story that the X-Men series has always been capable but never quite achieved through it’s mostly average writing.
Of course, the intention with the previous films has been to appeal to the widest possible audience. This is not the case with Logan, and the film shines because of it. The film is gritty and highly unpleasant in places, from the foul language spattered across to the dialogue to the raw brutality of the fight scenes. The latter is, however, displays a true understanding of the source material, for Wolverine is and always has been a visceral character. The unbalanced fight with his younger cloned self had a distinctly animalistic feel to it, with the audience wincing with every skin-crawling slash. And though I wouldn’t normally mention this, I have to tip my hat to the hair and make-up department in this film, because I genuinely forgot Jackman’s relative youth whilst watching his scarred and coughing performance.
It’s not a perfect film. The writing, whilst mostly solid throughout, does phone it in a little in places. I’m not going to spoil the ending, but when the relationship between the three characters has been a subtle one throughout, to turn the drama up to 11 for the films finale really does detract from the experience. I was almost annoyed that the film hadn’t reduced me to tears, but the very last moment of the film (which you will know when you see it), was so simply yet powerfully delivered that I did shed one solitary tear. I love the minimalism of this film, due to it actually developing what few characters it has rather than shoehorning in as many as possible within the run-time. That being said, there are a few things the movie assumes you already know going in, like who all the blokes with metal arms are, and what precisely it was that killed all the mutants off in the first place, which from my understanding varies from different continuities. Finally, I’d say that it suffers a little from what I am coining ‘Man Of Steel syndrome‘ (nothing to do with neck injuries, I swear). This pertains to a film with a powerfully emotional trailer that does it’s job so well that the resulting film can’t really live up to the hype.
While still burdened with occasional narrative issue, Logan is hands down the best superhero film I have seen since Iron Man. Why? Because it had the balls to do things differently, distance itself from it’s predecessors and carve out it’s own image in an industry straining under the dead weight of CGI holographics and exhaustively quippy dialogue. It fixed what was broken before, developed what was already good, and ultimately is very aware of its finality. This is Jackman’s last performance as Wolverine after a 17 year run, so having pulled out all the acting stops and having the production value to back it up, Logan is a fitting end to the character and a final redemption of a spin-off series that has left its audiences disappointed. Way to stick it to the fans, Mangold. Logan is worth 10 of any current Marvel properties, and it’s like Citizen Kane next to the likes of Doctor Strange.