Review by Siobhán Rich for Mr. Will Wong
Fans of Marvel Comics and the X-Men franchise have been waiting for a good Wolverine Movie for a long time now. They have suffered through bad origin tales and bare-bones storytelling. Unlike the character he plays, Hugh Jackman is getting older and his window to play an un-aging comic book character felt like it was getting smaller. This is why Mark Millar’s incredibly popular 2008 Graphic Novel Old Man Logan seemed destined for the big screen. Despite early hype this is not really that Movie.
Very, very loosely-based around the highly-popular Novel, Logan finds Wolverine and Professor Xavier (Patrick Stewart) in an alternative timeline to the last time we saw them in X-Men Apocalypse. With subtle callbacks to set-up the new reality, the audience is introduced to a scarred and more ragged looking Logan who now works as a chauffeur so he can buy drugs for Xavier, whose powers are a constant to danger to those around him. While working, Logan meets Gabriela, a nurse who desperately needs Logan to take her to a safe haven in another state.
Gabriela and her daughter Laura are being hunted by Pierce (Boyd Holbrook) and Dr. Rice (Richard E. Grant), who believe Laura is their property. The result of cloning and mutant experimentation X-23, as she is referred to by the clinical villains, is the genetic daughter of Logan right down to the adamantium they applied her skeleton. The reluctant father agrees to bring Laura to her friends and must battle his own demons, Xavier’s uncontrollable powers, and Pierce’s cronies along the way.
Dafne Keen is effective as the quietly-lethal Laura. People have longed to see X-23 make her cinematic debut and she does so here in deadly style all while wearing a t-shirt emblazoned with a rainbow. She fights with a grace her animated alter-ego would approve of while still acknowledging the harsh reality that the predator the audience is cheering-on is an 11-year-old child.
From the first SNIKT! of Wolverine’s claws it is clear that Logan was the X-Men Movie that Deadpool gave us. The extremely gratuitous brief nudity aside, the cursing and violence in this Movie haven’t previously been seen in a Movie from the franchise. Wolverine’s kills are bloody and precise – the sight of his claws sticking out of a random extra’s head quickly becomes as commonplace as his trademark brooding.
Writer/Director James Mangold has put all his cards on the table for his second outing with the Canadian mutant. He strives to stay clear of neon bright action movie tropes by leaning toward the grainy sorrowful tones of an old western. The Movie feels like it was filmed in sepia tones and rarely deviates from that palate until the third act. Even the characters’ brief sojourn with the Munson family (headed by Eriq La Salle) is tinged with the bleak foreshadowing that nothing in Logan’s life ever ends well.
Logan tries hard to be both Comic Book-Movie and highbrow Film to service both fans and newcomers, but neither group is likely to be fully satiated. Even the easy familiarity between Stewart and Jackman underlines Logan’s uneasy footing as the Movie flirts briefly into buddy-road trip territory.
X-Men enthusiasts will enjoy dissecting the movie’s more interesting retcons and all the potential plotlines that are briefly hint at. While I will not divulge any spoilers, there are enough vague references and bites of throwaway dialogue to keep fans happy while they search for loopholes in Jackman’s assertion that Logan will be his final X-Men Movie.
Every year we see more and more Comic Book-themed Movies fight for box office dollars. By showing up early and with a fresh new take on the genre, Logan has ensured that 2017 will be the year of the Wolverine.
20th Century Fox Films Canada release LOGAN on Friday, March 3, 2017.