By Kevin Shaw
I came into “Logan” with high hopes. Even with my high expectations, the movie blew me away. It is supposedly Hugh Jackman’s last performance as Wolverine –– my undisputed favorite X-Man –– and its R rating made for a really refreshing superhero movie.
“Logan” is set in Texas in 2029 when mutants are a dwindling species, an alternate timeline from the rest of the X-Men films. This is Jackman’s ninth portrayal of Wolverine –– 10th if you count his cameo in “X-Men: First Class” –– but there is something different about the character this time around.
Director James Mangold chose to adapt this movie’s storyline from genius comic book writer Mark Millar’s “Old Man Logan” version of Wolverine. In this movie Logan is old, weak and drinks whiskey like it’s water just to get through the day.
Logan and mutant Caliban (Stephen Merchant) care for a failing Professor X (Patrick Stewart). Their relative peace is shattered when Logan is recognized as the iconic X-Man and introduced to a young mutant girl named Laura (Dafne Keen) whose character impressed me throughout the film.
From the first Red-Band trailer, which featured a man being stabbed in the skull with adamantium claws amongst other gruesome acts, it was clear that this was going to be a violent movie. But the trailer did not do justice to the film’s true violent nature.
There was a plethora of blood, guts and severed limbs, but the violent scenes were tastefully done –– the action was incredibly well choreographed and masterfully executed by movie veteran Jackman and first-time movie actress Keen. Logan’s diminishing powers added suspense to the realistic thrills of the movie, always leaving me wondering which punch would be the one to break him.
The heart and soul of any movie is in the actors’ performances. A dry performance would betray a well-written script. Luckily, Jackman and Stewart are masters of their craft. Keen, however, was the most surprising of all given her age. Her role as X-23 is both physically and emotionally demanding, but the 12-year-old delivered a stunning performance.
Thanks to the R rating, the typical allotment of one non-sexualized use of the f-word allowed for PG-13 movies was replaced with a multitude of viciously delivered swears. I often feel that dialogue constrictions forsake the theme of a movie. The characters are usually restricted to unrealistically clean-mouthed dialogue because of a movie’s rating, but “Logan” does not have this problem.
A grumpy, alcoholic ex-super hero would play fast and loose with his word choice, and the dialogue of this movie reflects that. It’s a little thing, but something I really appreciate.
“Logan” has proved that with a dedicated cast and crew, and a director with a vision and a passion for the art of filmmaking, it is possible to create an unparalleled movie masterpiece. With the recent success of both “Deadpool” and “Logan,” two R-rated X-Men movies, I have high hopes for the future of adult superhero films.