This is the end. And what a satisfying end it is.
After seventeen years and nine movies, Hugh Jackman is bowing out of the role he’s become most famous for: The Wolverine, aka Logan. And his final effort, Logan, is just the send-off that he deserved. It pays homage to the character’s past, whilst setting itself apart from the films of the X-Men universe that precede it, achieving its own unique voice and style. It might make reference to the battles of the past, but whereas those battles may have had scale, those of Logan have weight and violence. Lots and lots of brilliantly shot, gripping violence.
Which in combination with Wolverine’s ailing regenerative powers raises the stakes hugely. For once it actually feels as though he is in danger. When he’s attacked, it’s not just a quick healing, blood-free graze that he picks up. It’s deep, gory slices into his skin and gunshots to his chest, and they all have an impact that effects him from one fight to the next, culminating in a war torn, craggy and tired version of a man previously near-invincible. And it works the other way round too when it’s Logan dishing out the pain. It’s no holds barred, berserker rage stuff, and it makes for a real treat. The years have not been kind to him, his friends are all but gone, his Adamantium claws are jamming and infected, and no matter how much he tries to fly under the radar, he can’t escape his past.
He’s not the only one that the passing of time has been cruel to. Patrick Stewart’s Professor Charles Xavier is also back, yet he’s a shell of the man he was. Boxed away and medicated for his own safety by Logan, his formerly brilliant mind is failing, as he finds himself confused and prone to dangerous seizures that slow time around him. The new wave of mutants that he’d predicted never came, those he had taught are now gone, and it’s those painful facts that he has to live with. The pair live on the dusty border of Mexico, accompanied by Caliban (Stephen Merchant), an albino mutant who cares for Xavier when Logan is absent, chauffeuring drunken teens around for a living. Early doors, Merchant’s Bristolian accent and general whimsy is a touch distracting considering the overall tone, yet largely he does a pretty solid job on the whole (and his makeup is certainly commendable).
The trio’s lives are turned upside down by the arrival of a young mutant girl called Laura (Dafne Keen), who is being hunted by the nefarious Zander Rice (Richard E. Grant) and his Reavers; technologically enhanced mercs led by Donald Pierce, played by the playfully nasty Boyd Holbrook. Laura’s past is intrinsically linked to both Rice and Wolverine, who she shares more than a few traits and powers with. To Rice, she is known as X-23, to Xavier she’s seen as the future of his dying race, mutant kind. Her standoffish relationship with Logan becomes more akin to that of a father/daughter, leading to some hefty emotional turns throughout. Dafne Keen is perfect, conveying anger, sadness, regret and remorse with barely a page worth of dialogue.
Of the villains, though Richard E. Grant might be the headliner, he’s also the most “comic bookey” element of the film, something that it otherwise tends to avoid altogether. Whilst his presence leads to scenes that conjure memories of Terminator Salvation (just, you know, a not rubbish version of it), Holbrook’s Donald Pierce is a more worthy foe for Logan, even if I would have liked to learn a little bit more about the Reavers, who are generally quite mysterious.
They aren’t the only mysteries though – there’s one left dangling agonisingly, hinted at but never resolved. But it’s not a deal breaker. In fact, come the end, it’s hardly even an issue. We’ve already seen enough of Logan’s past to know that it’s filled with more sorrow than the majority will ever face. And it’s that which makes the end of Hugh Jackman’s journey as the character even more impactful.
This is, quite simply, both Jackman and Wolverine’s finest hour.
Rating (out of 5):