Once known as Wolverine, Logan (Hugh Jackman) is now a gray and grizzled veteran. His bushy beard and obvious limp make it seem as though his time as an X-Man was from a forgotten time. He drives a Chrysler limousine to make ends meet and refuses to make amends with the fact that he is deteriorating; not only as a man but also as a mutant. Logan’s healing factor is almost non-existent as it pushes bullets through open wounds as if he’s taking a slow, painful dump. He coughs up blood, his wounds stay fresh for far too long, he can’t read without glasses, he doesn’t sleep, his eyes are always bloodshot, and his hands have pus where his claws come out. Logan wouldn’t be the first one to tell you that getting old sucks, but the not-so-distant future sucks even more.
In 2029, no mutants have been born in 25 years and mutantkind has become all but extinct. All who remain other than Logan is an albino named Caliban (Stephen Merchant), a former mutant tracker, and a bed-ridden Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart). Xavier has gotten so sick that his power as a telepath becomes uncontrollable during extreme seizures and he finds himself locked away inside of a rusty water tower. Logan makes money to pay for medicine for Xavier’s seizures, but is taken aback when a Hispanic woman named Gabriela (Orange is the New Black’s Elizabeth Rodriguez) recognizes him as the former Wolverine. Logan is forced back into the heroic spotlight despite his desire to stay hidden and it revolves around transporting a young mutant named Laura (Dafne Keen) to safety.
Logan isn’t your average superhero film. It’s not lighthearted and no one is really fighting for the greater good. Colors seem to be purposely absent because that bleak tone is exactly what director James Mangold is going for. In between a constant stream of, “fucks,” muttered by both Hugh Jackman and Patrick Stewart is a pile of severed limbs, an assortment of severed heads, and a continuous gushing geyser of blood. While Logan eventually does the right thing, he has no desire to. He is forced into it and then does all of the wrong things while attempting to take the right path. Every decision is met with a shitload of vulgarity, a series of gruff-sounding groans, and a lashing out of anger which typically includes a fair share of bloodshed but sometimes results in property damage like a truck getting totaled by a shovel.
Logan is based on the Old Man Logan storyline written by Mark Millar and illustrated by Steve McNiven. In that storyline, Logan hasn’t unleashed his claws in 50 years, has become a pacifist, is now a farmer, and lives peacefully with his family; a wife, a son, and a daughter. The Hulk and She-Hulk have mated despite being related and the two run a Hulk gang who terrorize everyone from California to Washington. The story includes symbiote wearing dinosaurs, Red Skull parading around in Captain America’s outfit, and some underground scavengers known as Moloids among many other awesome things. While there will never be a fully faithful adaptation of this incredible story, Logan embodies a similar tone to a masterful degree. The film takes pride in the flaws associated with becoming older and how damaged the world can become once it grows based on a broken society. Mutants may be gone, but that hatred is still there festering.
This is the R-rated Wolverine you’ve always wanted on the big screen; savage, brutal, and animalistic as fuck. He tears men apart solely because he gets frustrated with the situation. He drinks himself stupid to not only forget what he remembers, but also to numb the pain. Logan wants to die and he doesn’t attempt to hide that. His rough shape, disheveled appearance, and overall cantankerousness only intensifies how miserable he is. The film opens with Logan confronting a group of guys attempting to steal the rims off of his car. He’s shot point blank with a shotgun and gets the shit kicked out of him before he goes berserk and begins chopping off arms and legs. This is only the beginning of how ferocious the film can get though with explosive confrontations in the desert, the crimson carnage at a farmhouse at night, and the gory finale in broad daylight in the forest. You see Logan’s claws not only go through people’s midsections, but also their heads, facial features, and clean through their fleshiest appendages and most vital organs. Logan is through fucking around while ripping everyone apart, tearing through their chest cavity, and slicing off their face only scratches the surface of how deep he’s willing to claw and slash.
The other obvious highlight is Hugh Jackman himself. Wolverine has never been this broken. All hope is lost and he’s basically clinging to a reason to live by a tremendously thin thread. Jackman stumbles through the picture with a peculiar kind of elegance. Logan’s health is in the shitter, his mind is a jumbled mess, and his age is a rising issue. The way Jackman is able to portray all of this with a simple yet run-down look, a chug of some booze, and the muttering of something as simple as, “I don’t need this bullshit,” taps into this Lethal Weapon set during the apocalypse kind of mentality. It’s an incredible art to showcase that kind of pain, discomfort, and absolute hatred of what the world has become, especially if it’s solely for the love of a character and not something based off of reality.
Boyd Holbrook is a big surprise in Logan. He has one hell of a screen presence even if his Terminator hand is basically pointless. Holbrook portrays Donald Pierce, the leader of a group known as The Reavers. Pierce is hunting down Laura and Logan is the key to her whereabouts. While other characters are involved, the film is mostly a struggle between Logan and Pierce. Holbrook talks in this southern accent that only seems to heighten his charisma and persistence. While Logan is more ferocious in his actions, Pierce has a ruthlessly strategic mind. His ability to stay calm when his methods are so cruel translate into one of the most memorable performances of the film.
There are so many qualms to have about Logan despite its plethora of strengths. Dafne Keen is exceptional as Laura until she opens her mouth to speak. Then she suddenly becomes annoying and you find yourself wishing for subtitles. You admire how similar she is to Logan when it comes to anger, fighting style, and mutant abilities, but you can’t help but feel like she’s a bit of a brat that needs a good slap. In the graphic novel, Logan accompanied a blind Hawkeye on a delivery to help pay for his debts. Hawkeye was basically the last element of Logan’s superhero past. In the film, Charles Xavier fills that role and he seriously has no reason for being there. No blame should be put on Patrick Stewart’s shoulders since he acts the shit out of the role and the character serves the same purpose as Hawkeye did in the original story while Logan’s unspeakable act that made him sheath his claws in the first place has sort of shifted over to Xavier in the film. However, Xavier accomplishes nothing over the course of the film other than feeding Laura some Corn Flakes, watching a movie, and putting on a hat. You question whether or not he was really needed in this film after you’ve seen everything play out.
A company called Transigen is heavily involved with the Laura character, but their big project is a gigantic letdown. James Mangold couldn’t have gone with a Deadpool tease, a Sabretooth cameo, or God forbid the cinematic introduction of Omega Red. Instead you get something massively disappointing. On one hand, it keeps everything contained within the film which is perfect. You don’t really want a film like this hinting at sequels or leaving the obvious holes to expand on a franchise. But something or someone really cool could have been hinted at here and it just seems like wasted potential.
Recently headlines started making the rounds that three minutes have been added to the film’s runtime and it’s rumored to be an end credits sequence. If you’re going to go through the trouble of keeping everything contained within this film over the course of its duration, then why add something after the content you’ve guarded so closely? The other issue is after you see the ending; you’ll agree that nothing should follow it. Logan is a film designed to resolve the arc of a specific character while also writing a certain actor out of a particular role for good. You shouldn’t be talking about anything other than the final shot of the film while walking out of that theater; not some lame teaser for the next X-Men film.
Logan has several issues, but fortunately those imperfections don’t get in the way of how stunning the film is as a whole. It takes serious balls to make a superhero film that is this heartbreaking. I know people say that R-rated films aren’t for kids, but Jesus Christ don’t take your Goddamn kids to this. They will probably hate you forever. Logan is the mercilessly barbaric Wolverine film you have always wanted chock full of blood, gore, and extreme vulgarity even South Park would be proud of. Hugh Jackman’s swan song to the character is beautifully bleak and James Mangold can finally say he did the source material proud (for the most part, anyway). 4.5/5 Inches of Bearded Goodness.