Review: Logan

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This is the ninth time Hugh Jackman has donned the claws of the character that he is arguably best known for. This time the title of the film doesn’t contain the words ‘X-Men’ or ‘Wolverine’, which should give you a clue as to the tone of the movie, even if you haven’t seen the trailers which gave a downbeat, western vibe along with that Johnny Cash song.

 The film itself really is a completely different beast than any of Fox’s forays into the X-Men universe. For a start,all mutants seem to have been wiped out with the exception of Logan, Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart) and Caliban – an albino mutant played by Stephen Merchant looking like a very gaunt Richard O’Brien. Instead of fighting back against the people responsible for this perceived cull, they are in hiding, with Logan working as a chauffeur to make enough money to get the drugs Charles needs as he is going senile.

Logan plays more like a drama with some action elements. But even these action scenes work on a much more intimate level than your standard comic book movie where typically, entire cities are being levelled by giant robots or orc-like creatures from space/another dimension. In this film Logan is pitted against gangs and paramilitary bounty-hunters. And, unlike any previous films, you’re aware that Jackman has said this is the final Wolverine movie, plus something is wrong with him, he isn’t healing like he used to and he also seems to have something of a death-wish, so there is real jeopardy when he gets into a fight.

In fact, this movie is like a dysfunctional family drama with the put upon father (Logan) looking after an increasingly frail and mentally deteriorating grandfather (Charles) while looking after a tear away daughter. And what a performance from the young Dafne Keen who plays Laura, or X-23. Although she is mute for the majority of the film, her intensity is palpable an herd physical ability is impressive. As soon as she is forced into Logan’s life and he realises what she is, it gives him a reason to carry on.

Along the way there are some touching moments between all the central characters, especially when they help out and are taken in by a farmer’s family. But there are also some big surprises that really pull the rug from under you with one scene in particular playing with your expectations of how these kind of scenes usually play out.

As previously stated, while Logan is trying to get Laura from Mexico to ‘Eden’ in the North of America, he is pitted against paramilitary-style bounty hunters who are in the employ of Dr Rice (Richard E. Grant) the man in charge of creating a new generation of mutants who wants her back. His character reveals himself to be the son of the man in charge of the original Weapon X programme that created Wolverine. This is a nice nod to the previous films, and there are a couple of these sprinkled throughout the film, but not enough to distract.

Actually, Logan is probably the only film in the entire franchise that isn’t bogged down by being closely tied to the franchise. It’s a true stand-alone where you wouldn’t need to have seen a single X-Men film before. It also stands apart because of its 15 rating. The fact that we finally get to see the violence this character is capable of made a refreshing change and wasn’t used too gratuitously like it was in Deadpool.

One of the main criticisms of the film is its overuse of swearing, especially at the beginning, where it seemed like the script writers were let loose after not being able to use them. But again, rather than the cartoony, gross-out use of violence and language in Deadpool, at least the swearing was used in ‘real’ ways, even if it did feel gratuitous in places.

This is the best X-Men film in the 17 year history of the franchise, and this is mainly to do with the more intimate feel of the film as well as the fact the filmmakers were able to play with different genres. It’s more like a drama or a western, similar in tone and even colour palette to Unforgiven. If you’ve never watched an X-Men film before it won’t matter, the story is that good that it can be watched in isolation. Go see it.

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