Logan

Logan ★★★★½

This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.

This review may contain spoilers.

What happens when an old soul trapped in an immortal body finally starts to feel the knocking of death at his door?

This serves as the crux of the multiple themes explored throughout Logan, which finally sees the effects of being a superhero begin to take their toll on the eponymous protagonist. This ain't your grandpappy's X-Men movie, and it lets you know it within the first twenty seconds.

The world has changed to a state almost beyond recognition. The hopeful future that Wolverine fought for all those years ago is now a distant notion as he lives out his days drinking away his sorrows and trying to keep his dying mentor alive just a little longer. It doesn't sound much like a superhero story, and that's because it isn't. Logan wasn't made to be a good X-Men movie, it was made to be a great film, and it is exactly that.

The film is a Western, a roadtrip and a redemption tale all intertwined into one at the backdrop of a near future in which mutants are nearly extinct. In many ways, it's Midnight Special meets Wolverine, but fittingly with the tone of the film, it is absolutely ruthless, brutal and near-excessively violent, but by no means for the sake of it. Mangold's action is well shot and relentless; finally giving us the animal instincts Logan tries so hard to constrain.

Each and every performance is great. Hugh Jackman has been the saving grace of this franchise since 2000, and so it's fitting that he should receive a sendoff in the best film in the series to date. The characters are treated as real people despite their often heightened attributes. Consequently, we really care about them on a level rarely seen in this genre; Mangold manages to make you feel something towards all these characters. We desperately want Logan to redeem himself, we want to see Laura get across the border and we want to see Charles enjoy his final hour. Meanwhile, the film's antagonists are despicable, but not in a comedic or vaudevillian manner - we understand their perspective.

To take a life is to wound one's soul, and Logan's is finally beginning to scar. But as Charles tells him, 'You still have time', resulting in an ultimate sacrifice which has an emotionally gut-wrenching punch, not least due to the heartbreaking and stunning performance of newcomer Dafne Keen. She is Logan's final mission; both to save her and to show her that a life like his isn't one for the lighthearted.

Ultimately, while it isn't perfect - the film is a little long and there are one or two plot elements which aren't that well explained - I wholeheartedly believe that this is the best comic book adaptation since The Dark Knight. Every element of it is seamless and streamlined; managing to be both thoroughly entertaining and emotionally engaging. The action sequences are reasonably sparse, but when they get going they are some of the most riveting and unique sequences I've ever seen in a film of this genre. Logan's painful struggle through the hotel during Charles' seizure is absolutely brilliant; giving a sense that not one of these characters is safe. Also, Laura's unleashing of almost feral and animalistic brutality towards her torturers is a real breath of fresh air; it's both riveting and pretty frightening. That's not to say that the action is what makes the film, in fact, quite the contrary. The film hinges on its performances, its intriguing characters and its well-written plot, and is all the better for it.

This isn't your typical superhero story, but it's one which deserves to be seen and may hopefully inspire some more creativity and risk-taking in an often lacklustre genre.

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