Back in 2000, we were introduced to the X-Men’s first big screen outing – a film that proved to be massively successful that, it gained multiple sequels, spin-offs and soft reboots – taking a huge step forward in bringing the comic book movie genre to life. At the core of it is Wolverine, a character played by Hugh Jackman that went on to live in our hearts and minds as one of cinema’s most iconic badasses who we just can’t get enough of. His onscreen translation was accomplished with so much integrity that even with just one glance at the actor, you can already see him donning his character’s signature claws, and rugged demeanor. Because of that success, following the arrival of the third X-Men film in the original trilogy, the hero received a solo outing years after that only left most in dismay and disapproval for the injustice done to his origin story. Following that was a sequel that managed to outdo the last with a glint of superiority, but nevertheless ended up being stale still, and only decently lukewarm to be considered truly satisfying.
Logan, the third and supposedly final chapter in the Wolverine saga, dares to change all notions that we have previously thought of the long-running film series. This is an X-film in the canon that is always up for a dare, and with all of the steadfast courage that it bags, it gets through the finish line as, arguably, the best and boldest offering that we’ve to see yet from its genre, and the greatest hit that the series has ever thrown. James Mangold gives to us not only the Wolverine movie that we have clamored for too long, but as well as the one we all needed for a very long time. Servicing fans and audiences alike with unyielding precision, it gets us to digest rougher-edged entertainment than the usual fare that ultimately fulfills, and resolutely blows away.
Dead on from its introductory seconds, the atmosphere is all bleak, and the environment that we are taken to is parched; thirsting for life, when there isn’t any to be found – flawlessly effectuating a mood that embodies the characters’ conflicts, and the ravaged era of where they are set on whose starkness resembles much of what we see today. It is a far cry from the exhausting, flashy, awe-inspiring tales of superhero heroism that the industry is feeding us with – quenching the palates glittered with extravagance with something finally fresh, innovative, and mature as it plants itself in a world devoid of color. Clarity is apparent in its notion that, comic books are just fantasies where every hero is not who everyone perceives them to be, and there, it cuts deeper than it should – altering our perception on their tales.
Quick to make an impression during its opening scene that shows Logan in a wreck, you can easily feel that his story is nearing its end, and that we are in for a very different kind of comic book film – one not for the kids, and one that astonishingly shuns away from its wonderful conventions. Goodbyes have definitely never felt so good for the R-rating is recklessly justified, and the promises that it had made are gratified as things get messy, dark, and sometimes even cruel – not only in terms of the action, but also in thematic content. Seeing Hugh Jackman getting out of his sheltered cage, and breaking out into the wild to deliver the most unforgettable rendition of his character that we’ll ever lay our eyes on is divinely pleasing, with him freely spitting out profanities, and going irrepressibly berserk without ever giving a single damn. His performance here is a matchless triumph, and one that is big, and copious in depth. Going from profoundly dramatic to insanely amusing to relentlessly enthusing, Hugh Jackman is undoubtedly at his best, his most dauntless and comfortable; effortlessly living the role in unrestrained glory that serves us just right and absolutely proper.
What we get to see from him is not the Wolverine we have all been used to, but rather the one that should’ve leapt off of the pages of the comic books right when he entered the door. Here, he is damaged, aging, and vulnerable than ever – flesh rotting to the core, healing powers virtually terminated. As he faces his mortality, he crawls to his grave, but is given a “life” in the form of a child that he had not been expecting, as well as a task to protect one of the men that he had grown close with. Like everybody else, he is humanized, and is reduced to what he desires to revert back to, and the film attaches ourselves to him in ways that gets us truly affected – pulling switches that brings on waves of emotions to rush in, that, only also makes it hard to say goodbye to someone that we had been with for years. A human is what he is depicted to be, and all throughout, the film really lives up to its name; apt, staggering and different.
In spite of the bloody circus of gore going along with it that, involves limbs getting torn off, heads rolling to the floor and bodies getting impaled, they never serve as distractions that would stray us away from the impactful material that it has in its hands, which contains a grandeur so rare and marvelous that, it ends up turning this farewell into a memorial that looms and lingers. The action sequences stand on smaller ground, but nevertheless, sets on fire a gruesome, explosive blast that raises the fun to the highest level as we joyously stay within its radius. Sharp, brutal imagery is conceived, and not only does it escalate the grittiness to a shocking extent, but it also advances the characters’ arcs forward as we are revealed to the conflicts that incite these memorable moments.
Character dynamics are strengthened as it trudges along the pavement that is fortified by equally stunning performances, and we are left alone with a superb triad of characters – Logan, Charles Xavier, and the newest addition, Laura played by newcomer Dafne Keen. Wielding claws and slashing bodies, she is an irrepressible standout in all senses that is a wonder to be seen just as Patrick Stewart serves as the emotional circuit in between everything else. All that and more drives us for a dramatically-charged road trip that lets us take a peek past their special abilities, and opens up our senses to the humanity that lies within them. Together, they are pretty much tied like a family, a unit that feels much genuine to our eyes – pulsing life into a decaying land that could very well be the hero’s own soul that has fallen from grace. Spotlights with equal radiance are given to the trio, and enriched insights about who they are and what they feel are given in return. The villains that they encounter led by Boyd Holbrook and Richard E. Grant seem underdeveloped, but are sinister nonetheless; provoking their vulnerabilities, and testing their extremities, both physically and emotionally.
Filmmaker James Mangold’s panache for Westerns doesn’t shy away through that and several other aspects, and how he handles them barely leaves no stains of error – creating Logan to be a genuine film that breaks new ground; challenging everyone else in its path to get the nerve to be inventive. Placing everyone against the backdrop of what he perceives to be immersive, to great effect, he utilizes its glorified grandeur without leaving anything behind; getting keen on every detail present. He ends the saga with a wild, emotional final battle that sees our hero going out for arguably, the most intense battle of his life, and there, he gets to leave such memorable moments that really spears at where we would hurt the most. It is a bold highlight in the X-film series, and a triumphantly crestfallen closing salvo to Wolverine’s pain as well – parting us with a farewell that dramatizes the brutality through a human connection, and making us applaud and cry over the tragic events that will forever remain as one of the greatest and most revered moments in the comic book movie scene, as is the entirety of the film.
On all counts, it proves that, it’s not too big a blockbuster, nor is it too small a finale. Logan is a personal epic, and an emotional journey that intensifies by the minute as the richness of the source material is honored to degrees that stays so impassioned – rendering a beauty that glares a transcendent uniqueness with James Mangold’s more than faithful envisioning of a comic book movie unreeling what appears to be both a father-and-daughter’s quest, and a full-fledged Western pure with intricately-fleshed characters, and a sincerely compelling story to make this one last ride relentlessly engaging throughout as it defines who the character is to every one of us. It inundates us his psychological distress, and closes his story arc in a manner that is akin much to sealing an open wound that has been left open for years. It feels so painful, but as it gets poured over with a load of substance in a cautious manner, it gives rise to a burning sensation with a lasting effect. Nothing short of a perfected craft, it brings on the greatness in finality; rightfully making it stand among the giants of its crowd – giving reasons to be buzzed-about in the years to come.
- Logan is now showing in Philippine cinemas from 20th Century Fox. Rated R-16 by the MTRCB.