Evan Minniti staff writer
The Wolverine has had a long and convoluted backstory in the long and convoluted “X-Men” franchise. There have been a lot of ups and downs: movies like “X2”, “First Class” or “Days of Future Past” really work as smart, action packed superhero movies; whereas “Apocalypse” and “Last Stand” were pretty disappointing and mediocre. “Logan”, however, is not only the best X-Men movie, it is quite possibly only second to Christopher Nolan’s 2008 “The Dark Knight” on the list of best comic book movies.
Hugh Jackman and Patrick Stewart return to reprise their roles as Wolverine, known more casually as Logan, and as Charles Xavier, respectively. In a dystopian 2029, Wolverine is a beaten down, depressed, drug addicted and aging limo driver. Xavier is guilt-ridden, senile and dying. He is alone in the Mexican desert with no one for company but Caliban (Stephen Merchant), an albino mutant and former turncoat to the X-Men. The rest of the mutants have all been killed off, and there is no hope left for these three. Eventually a mysterious little girl named Laura (Dafne Keen) falls into their hands, hunted by a paramilitary force led by Donald Pierce (Boyd Holbrook). What follows is a chase to the Canadian border, in hopes of finding a sanctuary for Mutants.
“Logan” is absolutely brutal in the terms of its violence. It is by far the most violent of the X-Men franchise, but that doesn’t mean it is a mean spirited or pointless action film. “Logan” is a meditation on aging, mortality and reexamining the values (or lack thereof) that Logan built his life on. Logan has to dig himself out of a really dark period in his life. And after a lot of grief and suffering, he finds something worth fighting for, and that is really moving to see.
Jackman and Stewart give heart wrenching and believable performances. Jackman especially shines, on more than one occasion he moves us to tears. Eleven-year-old Keen, however, really steals the show here. Keen perfectly captures Laura’s muteness and violent mood swings, which in turn mirror Logan’s own behavior. Holbrook plays one of the more compelling villains in the franchise. Whereas Magneto, the traditional nemesis of the X-Men, could inspire respect from the audience because of his principles, intelligence and experiences as a Holocaust survivor, Pierce only inspires revulsion. He is an extremely unlikeable, cruel, often stupid sociopath who is only interested in money. The audience desperately wants to see him fail.
Overall, “Logan” has more in common with modern westerns like “No Country For Old Men” than a typical X-Men movie. “Logan”’s weighty theme of finding optimism in a bleak world serves as a great contrast to the postmodern cynical antics of “Deadpool”, another X-Men movie that bends the rules of the comic book format. “Logan” is an extremely violent but compelling character drama. It has a real emotional heart buried underneath some of the worst aspects of human nature.