For the longest time Logan has been marketing itself as a different kind of superhero movie. Sure, it boasts an R-rating, a trailer set to Johnny Cash’s haunting rendition of “Hurt” and a bleak aesthetic set in a grim future where mutant-kind is all but extinct. However, a part of me still thought of it as just another X-Men movie.
Then I saw the opening sequence.
Imagine being used to a certain style of violence when it comes to a character. I’ve seen Wolverine use his claws before, sometimes seriously, sometimes comically (ahem fire escape in X-Men Origins?), but the experience has always been bloodless. Those movies couldn’t show anything serious ,so it is really shocking to witness Wolverine slice a man’s arm off and see all the blood, tendons and muscles. From that moment on, Logan makes it clear that this isn’t going to be the usual capes and spandex movie we’ve grown accustomed to.
Logan is an examination of a character who has been in the spotlight for more than fifteen years. Gone are the glory days of saving lives and trying to make mutants and humans get along. All that’s left for Logan (Hugh Jackman) is a gig as an Uber limousine driver. He’s still taking care of Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart), who is losing a battle against an illness that’s ravaging his mind. The hero known as Wolverine is dead. Instead, there’s a shell of a man, trying to bury his pain with alcohol, just biding his time until his own life ends. The film draws parallels between Logan and Wild West heroes: people whose sole business was blood and violence, but are nearing the end of their time.
As a fan of the X-Men movies, it’s really sobering to see two of the franchise’s most iconic characters reduced to such dire circumstances. This is Patrick Stewart and Hugh Jackman’s last film as Professor X and Wolverine, and both acquitted themselves masterfully as we witness the conclusion to the father-and-son relationship shared by the characters. Their relationship provided much of the emotional heft of the film, and the two play off of each other incredibly well.
As for the action, I wasn’t joking when I said it was unexpectedly brutal, sometimes even uncomfortably so. Viewers know that Logan’s healing factor is compromised, so every injury he sustains is magnified in your mind. The sheer visceral nature of the fights keeps me from claiming they are enjoyable, but they are satisfying. That said, the conclusion to each fight brings a sense of foreboding because you can see Logan’s life being slowly hacked away.
Even after watching all of the trailers, I wasn’t expecting the final Wolverine movie to be like this. Logan is a film that takes a big risk with an established franchise. It’s bleak, dark and downright hopeless at times. The action can be unforgiving. The overall tone of the movie is solemn. There are some laughs, but this film is like saying goodbye to a longtime friend or relative.
Logan is a film that does everything in its power to hurt you … and I love it.