Wow. LOGAN is a great superhero movie, a great movie period. It’s the year 2029, and the X-Men are all gone except for Charles Xavier (their founder and mentor), Caliban and Logan (Wolverine). They live off the grid in a remote site on the Mexican border, saving their money for a final escape from the civilized world. No new mutants have been born in 25 years. A woman finds them who claims her daughter Laura is a mutant who needs their protection. A road trip ensues in which Logan must get the girl to a safe haven before the violent authorities who created her catch them.
This dark film breaks so many conventions I can’t believe anybody had the stones to actually make it. It elevates the superhero genre into something that far transcends its roots, something approaching literature, and in my view is one of the best superhero films of all time, if not the best.
LOGAN is R-rated, bloody violent and filled with cursing. The action scenes are amazing. Wolverine is finally unleashed to use his claws with gory abandon. No costumed figures throwing CGI effects at each other while exchanging witty quips. No character deaths that evoke yawns. LOGAN delivers great action but has a leisurely pace and focuses on character, making me care when somebody tries to win, when somebody gets hurt, when somebody dies. It’s a movie about people with superheroes, not the other way around, and that makes it a film you can invest in. There are numerous instances where something realistic or surprising happens, keeping you engaged.
LOGAN is not a happy movie, it’s filled with pathos. The X-Men reference a glorious past that is now gone, with the survivors suffering in old age. Charles Xavier has Alzheimers, which causes him to periodically lose control of his powerful psionic abilities. Logan’s metallic skeleton is slowly killing him, degrading his self-healing abilities and making him age. He drinks to self-medicate against the pain and also the memories of his troubled past. They’re still alive, but they’re hardly living, broken down and weary. They reference their past, but these are powerful moments, never cutesy or winking at the viewer. (The viewer can enjoy the film while having only a basic knowledge of the X-Men franchise.) When they are given the task of saving Laura, they get to experience life to the fullest again and once again use their abilities to achieve a higher purpose.
Speaking of cutesy, the film also includes kids, normally a no-go for me. I have kids, I love kids, but they often ruin adult movies–Terminator 2, Aliens, Indiana Jones 2. Not in LOGAN. Laura is a fantastic character, a mini Wolverine, moody and savage. The actress who plays Laura, Dafne Keen, is amazing. She and the rest of the excellent cast led by Hugh Jackman, the terrific script, the gritty realism, the exciting action, all combine to create a movie that made me care and wowed me.