Arts & Entertainment, Features

REVIEW: “Logan” is Wolverine at his oldest and best

Hugh Jackman reprises his role as Wolverine in the new movie, “Logan,” coming out Friday. PHOTO COURTESY JOHN MATHIESON

Throughout 17 years of donning metal claws, fans have come to associate Wolverine with Hugh Jackman and vice versa. So how do you respectfully end the saga of a character that has become so dear to fans of all ages? The answer: with respect, and maybe a little more blood and guts than you’re used to.

“Logan” follows Wolverine in 2029, where all mutants have been seemingly wiped out, leaving only himself, professor Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart) and new mutant Caliban (Stephen Merchant). The catch: Caliban’s ability to track mutants has no more use, Professor X suffers from Alzheimer’s Disease, and Wolverine’s healing factor seems to not work as well as it used to. All three are hiding out in Mexico, with Logan making ends meet as a limo driver. It all changes when Logan receives a different kind of job, having to take 11-year-old Laura (Dafne Keen) up to North Dakota to a place called Eden. However, Eden is supposedly a mutant sanctuary, and Laura is the world’s last new mutant. Fighting against the mutant-hunting Reavers led by crazed cyborg Donald Pierce (Boyd Holbrook), Logan must go past his limits in order to potentially save all of mutantkind.

If the plot seems like a lot to take in, it’s because it definitely is, and that’s one of the film’s major faults. With a full runtime of two hours and 17 minutes, “Logan” spends most of its first hour laying the groundwork for this post-apocalyptic future, and how the main cast lives in it. That’s all well and good for comic book fans who relish every detail of these kinds of stories, but the average viewer might feel a little overwhelmed with all of these different elements colliding at once.

Speaking of comic book fans, those who’ve been following Logan’s story in the pages will naturally want to draw parallels between the movie and the now-famous story arc, “Old Man Logan,” which shows an older Wolverine fending for himself in a post-apocalyptic world. Right off the bat, they’ll notice one major difference: the lack of the rest of the entire Marvel Universe. Yet the film still pulls it off masterfully. It may not be “Old Man Logan,” but it definitely is the story of Logan as an old man. On top of this, “Logan” is most definitely rated R — the film opens with Wolverine brutally slashing some carjackers — making it veer more on the side of “Deadpool” in terms of action, gore and storytelling.

What “Logan” lacks in story, it more than makes up for in acting. While Wolverine may be the focus of the movie, Keen’s Laura is certainly the breakthrough role. Despite not speaking for more than half of the movie, Keen manages to pull off an extremely compelling performance in and out of action scenes with all the rage of her comic book, with most of the movie’s best fights revolving around her. Stewart’s latest run as Charles Xavier is just as incredible, with Stewart really putting in every bit of his classical training into the famous leader of the X-Men. His struggle with Alzheimer’s seems genuine, making Professor X responsible for some of the most tear-wrenching moments of the movie.

But, of course, the best performance goes to Jackman in his curtain-closing turn as Wolverine. Jackman’s talent turns Wolverine, a character who in the first “X-Men” movie back in 2000 could be considered one-note at best, into a deep, complex and well-rounded character. His age is apparent in more than how he looks: he fights slower, is less enraged, yet still has that slightly selfish worldview. This Wolverine is clearly at the end of his journey, and with a delayed healing factor, the stakes have never been higher. Much like his co-stars, Jackman puts every part of himself into the conclusion of his time as Logan.

With all that, “Logan” can truly be considered the way to retire a character. Everything about it feels like a definite, final adventure, and that only helps to strengthen everything about this film. This is, without a doubt, the curtain call that Jackman’s Wolverine deserves.

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