Logan (2017): A Swan Song Done Right
Hugh Jackman has been Wolverine for nearly two decades and has one of the longest recurring roles ever in cinema, with Logan set to be his last appearance as the mutant. Logan is a superhero action western that follows the titular Wolverine in a post-apocalyptic world where mutants are extinct. Wolverine is on his last leg taking care of an aging and dementia-ridden Professor X (played by Patrick Stewart) when a young mutant by the name of Laura shows up, with identical abilities to Wolverine. Laura brings a list of problems to his doorstep like bounty hunters and rogue scientists. Now he must protect and aid Laura on a cross-country road trip while avoiding and fighting bad guys along the way. But will Logan be able to fight long enough to do so?
When it comes to the story, it's about as straightforward as it gets for a superhero film, but there's much more nuance to the story with its battered characters. As the film progresses each scene, each line of dialogue grows progressively more melancholic. Particularly in a quiet dinner scene where Logan and Charles reminisce about old times at Xavier's School for Gifted Youngsters. It gives them and the audience genuine nostalgia of good times gone by, since these two actors have been playing the respective characters for nearly two decades. Not to mention Hugh Jackman giving an emotional roller coaster of grief after burying his friend and father figure, Charles Xavier, after an intense fight with his clone X-24.
When we have superhero movies, they’re usually pretty tame and constricted within a PG-13 rating. However with Logan, 20th Century Fox took a risk and gave the movie an R rating. This gave the necessary freedom to be as ferocious with Wolverine as possible. It doesn't mean going into gory territory, but it gives more weight and damage behind each blow taken and given, for example, in the opening scene of the film where Logan is jumped by a group of car thieves. He takes several nasty blows and a shotgun to the chest, and he was still able to brutally kill or wound most of them before the thieves fled. Wolverine is an animalistic fighter so the fact that they made him all the more brutal in this film does the character justice, and leads the way to some extremely creative fight scenes. A great example of this is during the casino raid in the 2nd Act. Professor X has a seizure, adding that with his abilities leads to everyone in and around the casino to be painfully paralyzed, with the only two that are less affected being Wolverine and Laura. This allows for some gorey and creative kills as both try to stop Charles’s seizure before any innocent people die.
The only way this movie would be considered a swan song is if the character retired or died a hero’s death, and unfortunately, Logan was the latter. Dying a hero’s death after trying to protect Laura and her friends in the climax. While Wolverine succumbs to his tremendous injuries, he is given one last moment with his clone daughter Laura. This is bittersweet as this moment was foreshadowed by side character, Yukio, in The Wolverine and since this will be the last time Hugh Jackman will ever put on the adamantium claws. This moment is made even more tragic with Wolverine’s final line signifying finally accepting the love he so desperately tried to avoid because of all the pain it caused him.
Logan is a superhero western about redemption and purpose, which leads to some satisfying and heartbreaking character interactions as well as intense and original fight scenes. Hugh Jackman leaves it all on the table in his final performance as the fast healing mutant; giving all the gritty brooding and heart this character is known for. Patrick Stewart is as charismatic as ever as Professor X, even if his performance is a little heartbreaking. Acting newcomer Dafne Keen gives a great performance as Laura and holds her own against these acting veterans. A terrific story and fantastic acting, along with gruesomely beautiful action, Logan sets the standard for what superhero movies can be in the future.