There hasn’t been much to say about Marvel studios last few Wolverine films. X-Men Origins: Wolverine was a bust in every sense of the word as it lacked a good plot, characters, or anything else resembling fine filmmaking. The Wolverine seemed to almost get it straight, as the plot twist surrounding Wolverine, played by Hugh Jackman and his connection to his past in Japan all came together to form an intricate, yet graspable, story arc. But Logan does everything that The Wolverine did and way much more. Director James Mangold borrows faintly from the film’s original source material, that being the graphic novel Old Man Logan and delivers onto audiences a visual tapestry of the protagonist’s isolation and psychological despair.
Hugh Jackman’s performance as the titular hero is monumental in that its a complete break from what viewers would expect from Marvel Studios. The film opens with deeply troubled Wolverine living his older days as a limousine driver in a world devoid of mutant kind. Mangold’s choice of camera angles is top notch, as the director juxtaposes various close-up angles with long shots that epitomize the sense of loss the protagonist has in a society without mutant kind. One could not help feel that the cinematic landscape of the Tex-Mex border where the story begins is very similar to the barren settings of the old West. Unlike the previous films in the series, Wolverine, now known solely as Logan, isn’t the abrasive hero of old. Rather, Logan has become a drug addled alcoholic who’s addiction is used a mere means to escape his tragic past. A brilliant subplot that captures the essence of how far removed the film is from the graphic novel. From beginning to end, Logan integrates its cinematic scope by combining setting with character into two distinct yet fully integrated beings that coalesce into the story’s final act.
What makes Logan such a brilliant film is not only its story and settings but the characters that inhabit its desert filled landscapes. Patrick Stewart’s performance as the delirious yet ingenious Professor Charles Xavier is one of the highlights of the film. Stewart gives gravitas to the once leader of the X-men as his meanderings and withering voice is just some of the many nuances the actor brings to his role. One seems to get a sense of nostalgia seeing Wolverine and Professor X working side by side to save the future of mutant kind from the hands of a hostile post-genocidal society. Every second Stewart occupies the screen makes you feel the longing Professor X and Wolverine have for the glory days of the Xmen. Mangold lets you know just how much things have changed for them, as evidenced in every gray hair and bruised morsel of skin on Wolverine’s mangled flesh.
The character of Laura, played by Dafne Keen, was also a brilliant choice of casting by the director as her subtle vulnerability and overt ferocity come to the apex of the film’s cinematic metaphors. Laura doesn’t play very long into the girl in need of rescue stereotype, as her powers come into full view just at the very moment Logan himself is in need of help. A nice role reversal, executed eloquently at the very moment the script is in need of a shift in its characters trajectory. Keen is spot on with her actions as she constantly swings between the innocence of child hood and the feral nature of her mutant powers. Laura brings to fruition the ferocity that is lacking in Wolverine’s once insatiable blood lust. Logan is without a doubt a conflicted character, one that is searching for an end to his torment but manages to come full circle through the guise of the story’s supporting characters.
If you haven’t seen Logan yet I strongly advise you do so. It is a film that resonates deep within the human soul that is searching for a sense of redemption as the film progresses marvelously from being, middle, and end. Between its wonderful screenplay and resounding soundtrack, highlighted at the very end with the filmmakers haunting inclusion of the Johnny Cash song “When the Man Comes Around”, Logan bombards viewers with an internalization everything the characters are going through at the moment. The loneliness Wolverine feels at losing everything he loved corresponds to the barren wastelands of the Texas border town he inhabits. His surrounding, much like his soul, are devoid of life. This is a film that should be on any movie goers shelf, regardless of how much you know about the Marvel cinematic universe.
Simply put,Logan’s despair is as credible as any other character’s in a classic American drama film. The fact that this is a super hero film does nothing to detract from the sincerity of Hugh Jackman’s performance. Logan is truly a character driven story, a film that borrows the best of screenwriting and puts it together for the duration of its two-hour-plus running time. Mangold makes right what every other previous Wolverine film had done wrong through the depth and breath of scope that the director placed in every faze of the screenplay.