Director: James Mangold
Screenwriter: Scott Frank, James Mangold, Michael Green
Cast: Hugh Jackman, Patrick Stewart, Dafne Keen, Boyd Holbrook
Runtime: 137 mins
Genre: Action, Drama, Sci-Fi, Thriller
Review by Dave Griffiths
Sometimes the worst thing a film lover can do is believe the hype surrounding a film before it arrives in cinemas. In the months leading up to Logan we had heard that it was stand-alone Wolverine film different to any other X-Men movie, it would be R-Rated and aimed for adults and then just to make sure that our excitement levels were at their peak the rumours started coming out of the States was that Logan was going to be the best comic book movie since The Dark Knight. Then of course came the trailer which made the film appear like it was going to have amazing similarities to The Wrestler. All of the things that I was expecting from the pre-hype went out the window just twenty minutes into the film, though.
Set in the not too distant future, the film finds Logan (Hugh Jackman – Eddie The Eagle) hiding just over the Mexican border. All of the other mutants are now gone – dead – and Logan is left hiding out with Caliban (Stephen Merchant – The Office) while he looks after an ailing Professor Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart – Star Trek: Next Generation) who is suffering from dementia. Logan is a mess himself – unshaven, alcoholic and making ends meet by doing a mundane job as a chauffeur.
Logan’s life is turned around though when a distraught woman, Gabriela (Elizabeth Rodriguez – Orange Is The New Black), turns to him saying that a young girl, Laura (Dafne Keen – The Refugees), needs his help. He refuses to but that all that changes when Pierce (Boyd Holbrook – Gone Girl) shows up trying to hunt down Laura.
The premise was there to set up an almost post-apocalyptic Wolverine film, and if the film had kept to the tone of the trailer it would have done just that, but instead director James Mangold (The Wolverine) falls into the same traps that a lot of the early X-Men movies did. In fact, perhaps the most frustrating part of Logan is the screenplay. At times the film threatens to become something brilliant, but then it is let down by some really lazy writing. Like so often in the Marvel universe the ‘bad guys’ are walking clichés, so much so that Boyd Holbrook is wasted playing a character that pretty much has zero characterisation. Then there are simple, frustrating things like those same one-dimensional baddies pulling out ‘secret weapons’ that are never referenced to earlier. They also seem dumb enough to keep trying the same tricks to bring down Logan, normally running at him and firing wildly, despite the fact he has already created a body count mowing down the last twenty or so guys that have tried the same tactic. Then there are things such as Logan and Xavier stupidly putting innocent people in danger when they should be able to predict what is going to happen and mutants seemingly forgetting their special abilities and choosing to run from those who are pursuing them. Perhaps the biggest shock though is the screenplay treating one of the franchise’s most loved characters in a really disrespectful way that is sure to infuriate those who have grown up with the franchise.
It really does feel weird that Mangold didn’t have a better handle on the subjects at hand. The director of a film like Girl, Interrupted should have had a better grasp on how to handle Xavier’s mental decay while films like Walk The Line and 3:10 To Yuma should have a better handle on dramatic storylines that serve their characters better. Mangold is normally a good director, but here he seems to too easily fall into some of the traps that Bryan Singer fell into early on in the franchise.
The shame here is that Mangold wastes the skills of two men that turned up on their set with their A-Game ready to go. Patrick Stewart delivers one of the performances of his career as he plays Charles as a man that is not only struggling with his memory but also struggling with ghosts of the past. Likewise, Jackman decides to go out with a bang. His performance as the aged and disgruntled Logan is one of his performances in the franchise and as usual, his action scenes are sublime.
Logan is one of those films that any fan of the franchise has to watch. The film is a finale to two of the actors that have made this series so special, and while it is arguable that the story doesn’t do their characters justice, Jackman and Stewart do both step up to plate and deliver memorable performances. It’s not very often that I like to see actors go back on their word and return to a role after a finale I would find it pretty easy to forgive these two men if a better script came along for their characters.