It’s The End of an Era. 17 years ago, “X-Men” launched the superhero movie genre as we know it. And now, its breakout star Hugh Jackman is saying goodbye to his iconic Wolverine character in “Logan”. It’s Jackman’s third Wolverine spinoff movie, and a commendable swan song.
From the opening scene, it’s obvious that “Logan” is a far cry from your traditional “X-Men” / superhero film. Just as “Deadpool” stunned some audiences with the amount of adult material, “Logan” earns its R-rating for intense, bloody and often gory violence. Jackman came-up with the initial concept for “Logan” about two years ago. He then called director James Mangold and they got right to work on this final chapter.
The story takes place in 2029 - six years after the events of “X-Men: Days of Future Past”. Logan, now sporting a scruffy beard, has seen the majority of his fellow X-friends die-off. He is no longer “The Wolverine”, but rather James the limo driver - though he is still recognized occasionally.
Logan’s main duty is helping to care of an elderly Professor X (Patrick Stewart- who needs regular medication to prevent mind-controlled seizures that, because he has the most powerful mind on the planet, paralyze everyone around him. The professor is in hiding in Mexico, along with fellow mutant Caliban (played by Stephen Merchant). Logan is clearly aging as well - and struggling physically, no longer able to heal quickly from gunshots and stabbings.
A mysterious young girl soon enters their world - and she changes everything.
“Logan” has a pretty simple story that’s executed fairly well. The pacing is so radically different from the norm for this genre that it does take a while for the film to gain some traction. But once that happens, it’s impossible not to become deeply attached to the core characters. Jackman gives the most physically demanding and effective performance of this series, as does Stewart, who has also said this is his final X-Men appearance.
This is a rare superhero movie that can be characterized as a drama. Yes, there’s loads of action, but these scenes are purposely grim and not the usual glorified/silly fun. Diehards may be excited by all the slashing (including more than one severed head shot) but the goal clearly wasn’t for the gore to be crowd-pleasing. This is the story about a man coming to terms with life - and the end of life. A washed-up former champion struggling to go out on his own terms.
In many ways, “Logan” is a standalone film - you would not have to have seen any of the previous “X-Men” films to appreciate the messages and the execution. This may just be the new standard on how to end a superhero franchise.