A man drives a limousine through the dark, rained-out city. Though he looks strong, he has an unkempt, wrinkled face with a forlorn demeanor. His eyes are on the road, but his mind is in the glory days, either the paradise that he believes to lie ahead or the past prestige that his previous successes held. A few tough guys rattle his cage; shake him from his fantasy. He seems to tired to fight, making him an easy target, no matter how strong he looks, or how much he resembles The Wolverine from the beloved X-Men comics that the people of the world seem so fond of. However, in a blistering rage, the wrinkled man reveals his true nature, slashing and tearing at the men that disturbed him. Soon, the tough guys lie, bloodied and dead, on the street. But so does the driver, breathing softly, basking in his recent misery and his old glories. By his face, his name appears: Logan.
Logan is one of the best comic book films ever made, in large part because of the fact that, as much as films like Man of Steel or Captain America: Civil War attempt to place their iconic protagonists in a world close to our own, with human trials and tests of faith, Logan is the real deal. Hugh Jackman plays the hero as a truly battered, truly broken human being in a world where he has nothing and almost no one, with high hopes that fate seems to dash at every turn. His only companions are a jittery, inquisitive mutant (Stephen Merchant) and Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart, in perhaps his best performance), also broken, by not by fate, but by age. Charles has dementia and often forgets the name of his pupil. He has seizures, dangerous for everyone around him, due to his powerful telepathy. Charles and Logan’s dynamic in Logan is mesmerizing, with Jackman and Stewart bringing to light the mutants’ demons with haunting realism. They lead real lives, have real passions, fears, beliefs, and ideas. Hugh Jackman gives the best performance as a superhero in film history. No one comes close to his bleak mentality and intimidating physicality. It is difficult to reinvent the character that you have become so associated with. Jackman does it with startling ease.
The action in Logan is never a throwaway scene, an obligatory feature in what is, among many descriptions, an action film. The choreography is swift and beautiful, and yet convincing for the characters. Every hit has impact, as each character is vulnerable. Logan takes many hits in this film, more than most heroes take. But, more importantly, the action acts as an extension of the story, a spontaneous event that is lead into smoothly in a way that compliments the film in more ways than just being an entertaining beat-’em-up moment. The film was reminiscent of Mad Max: Fury Road in that respect. The characters are bloodied, beaten, stabbed, shot, and torn open. Logan is a violent film, but the farthest from gratuitous as I’ve seen.
Logan is in many ways, a neo-Western. The color palette is filled with sun-scorched browns and yellows, with a gruff hero with a victorious past and a tragic present, called out on one last journey for the good of the people that remind him most of himself (in Logan, this is X-23, played wordlessly and intensely by Dafne Keen). But, in its own tradition, Logan takes a gamble with a story and event set that creates an intense nihilism. The film is bleak, dark, with little hope throughout its nearly two-and-a-half-hour-long. However, despite many’s growing concerns, Logan is not a depressive slog. The film has energy to spare, most of it generated by the lead performances and exciting action sequences. I let the theatre after seeing the film with a strange feeling of adrenaline and sadness, of excitement and thoughtfulness.
Logan is so good that I forgot that I was watching a movie, much less one based on a comic book. Its performances drew me in, the distinctive and beautiful direction and cinematography held me there with some help from its punishing script and action, and it left me with nothing left, and yet so much more than what I entered with. Logan is the best Marvel film ever made, and Nolan’s The Dark Knight is the only thing keeping it out of superhero films’ top spot. It will be discussed for years to come, with Jackman’s Wolverine forever defined by his lowest state and highest achievement.
Final Grade: A