All words by Lloyd Newkirk (The Dirty Mexican)
So you’re already questioning me/yourself/your mother about my strange title are you not? Or you’re as much of fan of the X-men comics as I am and you know exactly what I’m hinting at.
A fan of the comics who too, has some twisted love/hate relationship with the films. To be frank I pretty much loathe the original trilogy. Well, at least two-thirds of it. 2000’s “X-Men” was lacklustre to someone educated in the art and intricate storytelling possessed by comics. I was fourteen when I visited the cinema with a bunch of my cousins who all loved it. I was like “why the fuck were their costumes so lame?” “Why was Wolverine such a jock?” “Why was Cyclops such a dork?” Poor decisions that have left me in disdain for any film with the X stamped in the title that was produced by Fox. That being said, the newer trilogy featuring younger Professor Xavier and Magneto played by James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender respectively didn’t leave as much of a sour taste in my mouth as 2000’s ”X-Men” and 2005’s “The Last Stand” did. (X-2 was okay).
I enjoyed First Class. It was the reinvigoration the franchise needed. Days Of Future Past was even better. I finally started believing in a franchise that both catered to comic nerds and unwashed sheep alike. Despite the film featuring both acting stables from both sets of trilogies, this film really changed my perceptions about the comic-book film genre. Especially in the sense that these films do not fall under the Marvel studio rights (like MCU ala Avengers). Fox has been holding onto the rights for dear life and putting out, for the most part, lacklustre adaptations of some of the best characters around, in comics, let alone in fiction. Days of Future Past featured a stellar plot device (time travel obviously), executed in the most comic book nerd way ever, a great well-rounded portrayal of Logan by Jackman and each and every other cast member gave a palpable levity to their characters who were in this case at their wit’s end. The film was darker and less comical (excuse the unintentional pun) than that of the first trilogy.
Okay, that’s enough as to why I love and hate those films. Let’s move on to Logan. Logan is Hugh Jackman and Patrick Stewart’s magnum opus when it comes to playing these beloved characters. Hugh Jackman has come a long way as the grizzled adamantium claw-wielding “anti-hero”. Patrick Stewart’s old and demented Xavier is truly a wondrous performance to behold. I guarantee you will laugh many times and cry at some points too. (or maybe that’s just me)
So what sets this, the third Wolverine apart from the horrible messes that the two predecessors were? ( X-Men Origins Wolverine & The Wolverine) James Mangold has crafted a world where mutants are no longer around. There hasn’t been a mutant birth in years and the world has moved on. Humanity has all but won. It’s a bleak, sad and downright fucking depressing world where humanity is thriving despite being the real cancer. Great move there Mangold, throwing in some perfectly cynical social commentary.
Let’s not forget that this is the first time we get to see Logan and other mutants in an R-rated outing. As childish and masculinely stupid as it is, this is fucking awesome. All comic book fans have waited to see the Wolverine finally spill guts and blood, and my god, despite it being over the top at times, it fucking works like a charm. It’s both refreshing and tiresome to hear both Prof Xavier and Logan throw the f-bomb around like my mother at big family gatherings. It, however, does not feel forced. Or maybe it does, but it doesn’t detract from the fact that this film, despite it’s darker and stark nature is basically the best Wolverine film, the best comic book film since The Dark Knight and definitely the best X-men universe film ever!
It’s just sad that it comes a little too late. This is the final outing for Hugh Jackman as Wolverine and I’m pretty sure that is the case for Stewart playing our favourite, charming, most powerful telepath, school principal for gifted youngsters.
So what is the deal with that? Well, Hollywood seems to make fewer r-rated films than they did in the 90s. It’s all about money, why make a film exclusively awesome for people eighteen and above when they put out a turd that gets both tweens and teens in the theatres? As soon they try to be “too dark”, reshoots happen(I’m looking at you Suicide Squad), age restrictions are lifted and the final product, albeit more accessible just is not as great. I’m not saying a film has to be r-rated to be great, but if Deadpool and this film are anything to go by, a film crafted with mature themes just works! It gives the writers and director a certain, albeit controlled somewhat, free reign to tackle darker and grittier thematic essences. It’s not just the violence and crass language. It does fucking help the spectacle. How have we been okay with Wolverine in the past laying into poor unsuspecting cannon fodder with no blood being squirted across the camera? It feels more real when a people actually die in these films. When the stakes are raised, it leaves more of an impact on one as one leaves the cinema.
Despite the film’s hefty run time of about two and half hours, the final chapter in Logan’s cinematic story is by no means one that drags on. There were times where I was wondering if it was a bit long, but this runtime only added to the character development and the crafting of a believable yet sombre world where hateful humans have all but won.
Praise has to go to young actress Dafne Keen for her amazing portrayal of X-23, a young mutant who has adamantium claws in both her hands and feet. Her performance, albeit silent for most of the film was stellar, even when she was basically “scream roaring” at her assailants as she took them down, brutally. Other notable performances go to Boyd Holbrook, a human mutant hater with cyborg appendages, Richard E Grant’s Dr Rice and of course Stephen Merchant’s portrayal as Caliban.
All in all, Logan is a powerful piece of Hollywood cinema, a gritty yet stark X-Men film and one of the best superhero films to date. It gets a well deserved 8.9/10 from me, let’s hope Hollywood doesn’t do the predictable thing of churning out fuck bomb heavy films now due to the success of this beautifully r-rated romp.