Well everyone, it looks like we’ve finally reached the end of our seventeen year-long journey with the original X-Men cast. Over the course of I-lost-count-of-how-many films in the X-Men franchise, Fox finally gives fans the hard-R sendoff to Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine that most of us didn’t even know we wanted, in the form of the brutal, unapologetic neo-Western Logan. Tonally and aesthetically, this film has less in common with any of the previous entries in the series and more kinship with the likes of Unforgiven – heck, the title itself (one word, name of the main character) is even a reference to the classic Western Shane, which is seen playing on television at one point during the film and is even quoted a handful of times. And perhaps most fortunate of all is how this film holds up as a standalone feature without any connection to the previous X-flicks, since the studio seems to have given up on keeping the continuity in the franchise the least bit sensible for what’s been at least a decade now. Just sit back and enjoy the ride without trying to think of how it fits into the larger X-Men universe and all that business.
Set in the not-too-distant quasi-dystopic future of 2029, Logan finds its titular antihero as an aging, barely functional loner that’s working as a limo driver on the US-Mexico boarder because topical!, and also as one of the last reaming mutants still alive, due to deliberately ambiguous circumstances. Soon enough, trouble finds Wolverine once again as he – along with an also significantly aged Charles Xavier, living in hiding from the government and in the care of Logan – is tasked with overseeing the safe, speedy transportation of a mutant child (known simply as X-23) to an alleged safe haven and out of the hands of a dangerous military organization that’s been seeking her out. Immediately queue dozens of expandable henchmen for Hugh Jackman to brutally hack and slash his way through, and we have ourselves a movie, folks – and a pretty darn good one at that.
Thanks to all of the success Fox’s own Deadpool enjoyed last year due to its much hyped R rating, the door has now been opened for Logan to take a crack at it, albeit with a more serious tone, and by God do they take full advantage of that. Nevermind bearing witness to seeing Patrick Stewart cussing like a sailor all throughout, Logan finally delivers on the promise of seeing some truly berserk, wrenching action sequences all centered around Wolverine and the damage his metal claws are capable of. But what’s most surprising is not just the degree of the action itself, but rather the weight and impact it bears. This isn’t just pithy, “awesome” gore-hungry nonsense, but at times seriously uncomfortable and messy to deal with. It subversively draws you into a more (for lack of a better term) “comic book” lite feel, but all the action turns out to be much more grounded and nasty than expected. The degree of which, mind you, brings us to the next section of the review…
While all of the hard-R carnage and more downbeat tone certainly aid in making Logan feel more distinctive and singular than its predecessors, I’ll be the first to admit that a little bit of that goes a long way here. Because there are times in here that, like a lesser season of Game of Thrones, everything starts to become a little predictable in how miserable it all gets. After a while, it gets to a point where a noticeable formula begins to emerge within the individual vignettes that arise from the film, i.e. every time a situation arises, just imagine the worst, most grim possible outcome for said scenario, and that’s probably how it’s going to wind up. Once you notice the pattern of “Logan, Xavier, & X-23 show up somewhere / the bad guys follow them and kill *everyone* in sight / main trio barely escapes with their lives / repeat”, it starts to wear thin just a tad. Also worth mentioning is how some of the earlier combat scenes can get a little over-edited and shaky-cam heavy on occasion. But then again, if we saw with perfect clarity each time Wolverine’s claws went through some poor asshole’s face, it might run the risk of getting stale, and fortunately the spectacle of seeing some seriously hardcore Wolverine violence never gets old, even with Logan’s near 2.5 hour runtime.
While at first glance it would seem unusual to end such an otherwise lightweight and kid-friendly film series like X-Men with such a glum, brooding closer like Logan, it’s all well-earned and appropriately handled enough that it ultimately feels right. Much like the audience that’s grown up with this series, the characters in the films themselves have also grown up and matured right alongside of each other. If you’re just in the mood for the exact same thing you’ve seen dozens of times before at this point, the you’re better off just re-watching your Blu-Ray of X-Men: Apocalypse again, since this film really caps the series off in an unconventional yet effective route. At a time where it seemed like we might be starting to really get sick of this series, Logan gives us the catharsis that such a long-running series truly deserves, and we as audience members needed from it.