Going into the film Logan I honestly had about moderate expectations. By that I mean I didn’t set the bar incredibly high, and I knew about as much as anyone going in rather than really researching the movie. I knew that this was Hugh Jackman’s final film in the titular role and had recently heard that this would-be Patrick Stewards final role as Professor X as well (talk is cheap, Steward). Even though I didn’t do much research on the movie itself, I am a fan of the Old Man Logan comic and felt that that should be a good place to draw comparison from not in terms of story accuracy but in the tone of an older, battered Wolverine. Typically, I try not to do these reviews with too many spoilers or discussing the ending; however, to attempt to do so on this film would be robbing it of much of the praise I feel it deserves. Be wary going on from this point.
I feel a good place to begin with this movie is the story. While it is different from the Old Man Logan comic in various aspects, it does clearly draw inspiration from this source. The setting is not the same, the world is not some apocalyptic wasteland controlled by villains, however all the mutants are gone. The film explains that something has made all the current generation of mutants disappear, and that no new mutants have been born in decades, essentially leaving the few stragglers that survived this purge as outcasts and living in extreme secrecy. This was the only point of the movie that I felt could’ve used some slightly better explanation, or it was left rather ambiguous on purpose which may very well be the case. It seems that instead of Wolverine killing the mutants as was the case in the comics, Professor X was the cause of their deaths. As he aged, it turned out that Charles Xavier has a degenerative brain disease. Which from what I can tell, is Alzheimer’s coupled with something along the lines of epilepsy. Forgive me, I’m not versed well enough in this field to say for sure what it was, and the film doesn’t outright explain what it is and dialogue just reveals it to be a “degenerative brain disease in the most dangerous brain on earth”. When Professor X does not take the proper medication, not only does he lose his memory (and even when he does his memory is impaired), he will suffer from a seizure, which sets off his psychic abilities and paralyzes then kills anything within a very large radius. This is hinted at being the cause of the deaths of most of the mutants, however there was also another cause. This movie is set in the future, although not terribly distant. Giant automated machines farm and cultivate mass quantities of genetically modified foods, primarily corn, for sugary foods and drink that use corn syrup. It is revealed that this was a long con of the villains in the movie as the corn syrup, found in almost anything, was modified to repress the mutant gene and thus the reason for no new mutants being born. It wasn’t explained if this could also repress the genes in current mutants or not, however the film has the heroes nonchalantly avoid processed food throughout. While I wish it had some more direct clarification one thing remains sure: no more mutants.
Wolverine in the film is taking care of the now mentally degenerative Professor X. He moonlights as a limo driver allowing him to get the cash to illegally purchase medicine that keeps the professor’s seizures at bay and help with his Alzheimer’s. He is also beginning to suffer from adamantium poisoning. The metal attached to his skeletal structure finally beginning to take a real toll on him, his healing factor is keeping him alive but regressed to a snail’s crawl. He still cannot be killed conventionally, however if he sustains enough damage and then suffers a vital blow he will die, and he knows it. This also causes him to age noticeably. I felt the plot device here was a fantastic choice. The man who could run through battalions of enemies is now getting seriously injured and every bullet is felt, ever major wound is grievous and doesn’t fully heal leaving his body scared and disfigured. So, that in mind, the story is simply this: The weapon X program that created Wolverine has taken on a new moniker and the fact that no new mutants are being born was engineered by them essentially paving the way for buyer demand of manufactured mutants like wolverine labeled as super weapons. This is where X-22 comes in. She is the girl you see in all the trailers, and she is running from the owners of the weapons program and their sinister hired guns. The corporation decided to shut down her division of the weapons program, and by shut down I mean kill all the children in cold blood. Of course, the children being mutants successfully run, but they are separated and X-22, with the help of a nurse who worked at the corporation, seek out Logan in a plea for help in meeting at a rendezvous point which they also believe to be a haven. Logan doesn’t want to do this at any point along the way even towards the end of the movie. He is ready to commit suicide and finally experience death by shooting himself in the head with an adamantium bullet, but only after sailing into the sunset with Professor X in tow and giving him a peaceful death away from where he can hurt anyone once his seizures finally take over and kill him.
Logan initially agrees to go for 2 reasons, the first being the hired guns are already out to get him so he must run anyways, and the second being the promise of money so he can buy his boat. Along the way, he learns there is no monetary reward but grows an attachment to X-22 upon learning that she is his daughter. The genetics they used to make her were his, and they performed adamantium surgery on her skeletal structure same as him. Through various twists and turns, including MANY heartbreaking scenes such as the death of Charles, they finally make it to their rendezvous point and are going to cross the border and disappear in obscurity in Canada. To give them the time they need and kill off the major heads of the corporation that’s done all these atrocities, Logan sacrifices himself in glorious battle and X-22 lays him to rest. Wolverine is dead.
The performances given in the movie are phenomenal even from such surprising roles such as X-22. This was arguably the best child acting I’ve ever seen, maybe Stranger Things comes close. Her dynamic with Logan was great for father-daughter but it also kept up with the fact that they were total strangers. The final moments of the film reach out and rip your heart out as she lays her newly late father to rest and gives him a grave. Her display of rage during her action sequences were violent and full of emotion, but it just reached the line of ridiculous without going over it. In other words, it was very believable that she was angry and yelling and a small, more ferocious version of Wolverine himself. While we’re on heartbreaking character deliveries Patrick Steward really closed the book on his character in a fantastic way. When he dies, pouring his heart out, confessing his sins, admitting he’s finally at peace only to be betrayed (from his perspective), I about teared up. It made Logan’s lines of “it wasn’t me, it wasn’t me” more heart wrenching. He displayed Alzheimer’s very well, pulling off crazy and foul mouthed with a noticeable difference in attitude after his meds with precision. You feel as Logan does seeing this once great and very much loved one slowly lose their grip that only terrible diseases do to people. I can see why Steward felt this was a good end to the character.
Finally, the elephant in the room is Hugh Jackman’s performance. People like to throw around the phrase "Oscar winner" whenever they mean a good performance that usually does stand out from other movies, but in this I confidently say Jackman should be a considered nomination. The movie was framed in such a way that his character didn’t have to fall for typical super hero’s tropes. He wasn’t static in any way, never holding fast to any values in fast it was the opposite. He was very dynamic, showed a range of emotions that let the audience know every time he was conflicted. Logan had no real morals, and it made everything he did a huge ethical dilemma which Jackson conveyed with great prowess. Every choice he made one could see the doubt, he looked old and very noticeably tired. He had many great scenes and when Charles died the emotions ran high with everything from relief to grief to extreme rage. It was even worse when he choked up and couldn’t speak when he laid Charles to rest in his grave, the delivery will really grip you. Knowing his mission had succeeded at the end even though it cost him his life filled him with the looks of understanding and relief, finally allowing himself to open and care for X-22. I don’t know how much more praise I can give him or the movie, he makes you laugh, he makes you cry, and you feel a real connection to the character, something that drives the stakes up high in this movie even though the threat is not even close to world ending or city destroying. The only thing to really save is a child, and Logan’s heart, both of which this movie succeeds in doing.
If you haven’t seen Logan already you need to, it should definingly be a staple for comic book movies and just casual movie goers as well. It shows how to give an honest and book ending performance without an overblown plot or high CGI effects. It shows how to display emotion that really connects with the viewer and how important character development is in a story rather than purely setting. Logan comes highly recommend and the clear and finality of the ending is a great close to a character portrayed by an actor that I grew up with and has been associate with for 17 years. Hugh Jackman will be missed, and I say with confidence that there will never be a better Logan in this lifetime.