All good things come to an end, though sometimes it’s sad when they do. Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine has been about for 17 years now, since he appeared in the first X-Men movie back in 2000. Both Hugh Jackman and Patrick Stewart have said this will be their final X-Men film, so have they gone out on a high?
Logan is set in the near future, 2029 to be precise, and sees Jackman performing as a chauffeur on the Mexican border (like a posh Uber). In the evening he’s hiding out in some abandoned oil buildings along with Professor X, who’s old and struggling with dementia, and Caliban, played by Stephen Merchant (The Office, Extras), an albino who can ‘smell’ mutants.
They feed Professor X with drugs to stop fits he’s having and talk of buying a yacht to get away from it all. That’s all thrown up in the air however when a woman finds Logan and asks for his help. She wants to pay him a lot of money to take her and her daughter to South Dakota. What she neglects to inform him is that she’s being pursued by lots of ‘enhanced’ men with large guns who want them both dead.
The man behind the camera, responsible for the story and who worked on the script is James Mangold, who you will know better for 3:10 to Yuma and Walk The Line. The latter is particularly significant as he’s obviously a massive Johnny Cash fan, there’s plenty of his music to listen to throughout. Scott Frank (The Wolverine, A Walk Among The Tombstones) and Michael Green (Green Lantern, upcoming Blade Runner 2049) are the other two writers.
What they have given us is something we haven’t seen for a long time; they’ve given us a Marvel, superhero film that is packed full of emotion, one with a story that’s almost believable and one that is full of wonderful performances. The emotion in Logan is a beautiful touch, it fits with the man’s self-destructive nature we’ve previously seen, this time he’s took it up a level, he wants to die.
Patrick Stewart as Professor X is also amazing and he and Jackman bounce of each other like an old married couple (for some reason my brain said The Odd Couple remake, or Grump Old Men!). There are some truly wonderful pieces with the two of them on screen, including some nice comedic touches.
Newcomer Dafne Keen plays Laura, the girl everyone is after, and she plays the part very well. One minute a young girl in a strange world, the next a screaming-banshee. She doesn’t say a lot, which is no more than an observation, the movie is about Logan and Mangold keeps our focus firmly where it should be.
Now, that’s not to say it doesn’t appear like things are being passed on. There’s a reason that mutants have pretty much died out in this future and it’s the same reason they have suddenly re-appeared, that is, Dr. Rice, played by Richard E. Grant (Withnail & I, Jackie). He has been continuing with his father’s experiments and created a whole bunch of mutant children, of which Laura is one. This feels very much like the franchise being left for someone else to pick-up with a whole new cast of characters should they wish.
I’d like to leave the review here; tell you that Logan is a fantastic, heartfelt movie with action, not much mutanty-stuff but some and powerful performances that take it out on a high. I’d like to, I really would, unfortunately it’s not all good.
Generally, the directing is good but the fight scenes are truly woeful. Obviously, a lot of time and effort has gone into training Keen (and her stunt double(s) no doubt) and choreographing the fight scenes she’s in. However, I can’t tell you how good they are as Mangold decides to go all shaky cam on us, not just shaky cam though, it’s fully zoomed in shaky cam, so all we see is an odd leg here or an odd fist there. The bits we do see look like they could be brilliant, Keen is venomous when she gets angry and leaps around like Yoda, but we miss a lot of it and it’s a crying shame.
Then we come to Mr. Merchant. I have no beef with Mr. Merchant, I think he’s funny in most things I’ve seen him in, but who thought it was a good idea to cast him in this needs to have a long think. He doesn’t really act, he is just himself, though not smiling. It jars with the rest of the movie, as does his Bristolian accent. I know, I know, that sounds like an odd thing to say but for me, it just doesn’t work and when you have Richard E. Grant in the movie who you underuse…it just ain’t right I tell ya!
Finally, as this is an IMAX review of the film, we come to the IMAX bit. Pointless. There, that was easy. Sorry, I don’t mean to be so flippant but I can’t see any reason why you’d see this film in IMAX over your more traditional formats. When you watch a Christopher Nolan film where he’s used IMAX you can see how he uses the format, he adds to the film with it. We get none of that here.
The reality is we shouldn’t get anything fancy like that either, this isn’t your typical Marvel film. As I said earlier, there’s actually not much in the way of sci-fi, it’s much more dramatic, more grounded, more, dare I say it, human. Logan is a damn fine send off for the character and for Jackman and Stewart. Now we look forward to Laura the Yoda-Banshee-Wolverine!