In cinemas nationwide now
Logan is a film of echoes. It harks back to road movies, westerns, samurai films, as well as the previous works of its director and star. The one thing it tries to distance itself from, at least as we would traditionally understand it, is a superhero film.
As the film’s title suggests, it is about the man rather than the alter-ego. It’s 2029 and Logan has put Wolverine in the past and is working as a taciturn limo driver. After a brutal run-in with some carjackers that sets the level of violence at an unflinching grindhouse standard right from the off, we discover Logan’s healing powers are somewhat diminished. He’s finally being poisoned by the adamantium that bolsters his skeleton. Also ailing is Patrick Stewart’s Professor Xavier, now in his nineties and riddled with dementia, which manifests as terrifying seizures that paralyses everyone in the vicinity. Into this desperate situation is thrown Laura, a young mutant, (played by a startling Dafne Keen) with similar skills and scowling attitude to Logan.
Hugh Jackman embodies his iconic role as never before, even as James Mangold’s movie is far removed from the previous titles in which Wolverine has graced the screen. We finally get to see the unalloyed berserker rage his alloyed body is capable of. We also get to see every second of a long, regretful life etched as deeply as the scars mapping his flesh. His failing body is mirrored in Xavier’s atrophying mind, deepening the themes of ageing and mortality. In a neat twist, this is a universe in which the X-Men comics exist and Logan is presented with the mythologised version of his past, like an over-the-hill gunslinger. These are themes Mangold has explored before in the elegiac Cop Land and for every moment of frenzied face-skewering, there is an equally powerful moment of reflection.
At its heart it’s a standard road movie, as the motley trio end up on the run from some rather generic villains headed by Richard E. Grant. This threat, while numerous in number, is the least interesting part of Logan; existing to be diced to kebab by our American Lone Wolf and Cub. Its echoes are to superlative fare however. There are moments of True Grit, Shane, Cormac McCarthy’s The Road, Mangold’s own take on 3:10 to Yuma, and Easy Rider. It really excels as a character study, and every emotional beat is thoroughly earned. Deadpool may have made the adult comic-book movie a viable option, but Logan is a seriously adult movie, and a nigh-on great one, comic-book or otherwise.