|Starring||Hugh Jackman, Patrick Stewart, Stephen Merchant, Boyd Holbrook, Dafne Keen, Richard E Grant|
|Release||3 MAR (US) 1 MAR (UK) Certificate 15|
Logan is a work of remarkable maturity, relatively speaking of course. Mangold has sand-blasted the X-Men aesthetic, leaving it raw and rusty: Logan's world is one where the apocalypse already happened and nobody noticed - border walls, secret police, mass extinction and genocide. The last X-Men movie had Olivia Munn wearing a swimsuit and swinging around purple energy swords; this movie has Stephen Merchant ironing Professor X's underpants. A deliberate attempt to age up the franchise, Logan asks big questions of its protagonist and drags him through the dirt until it gets its answers. Touchstones here are Westerns like Unforgiven and Shane, movies that never had to worry too much about sequels. The same way you could strip the costumes out of The Dark Knight and still have a brilliant cop movie, take the adamantium out of Logan and you're left with the bones of a compelling Western.
Jackman, unsurprisingly, is totemic in the role. Never forget that this anger-fuelled feral berserker is played by a man whose default mode is 'singing showtunes'. This is a very different Logan than we've seen before; angry in a different way, because he already knows he's playing a zero sum game - he's howling into the void. Kudos to Logan's hair and makeup team, because Wolverine's look - sun-damaged skin, limp, Forest Whitaker eye, hair kitchen-scissored into a Simon Cowell bog-brush - tells the story that Mangold's screenplay needs not specify: that the unkillable man is dying. And you feel his pain: by the movie's end, the film is practically coughing blood. Logan's exhaustion and the futility he feels with his own failing body are palpable - the entire third act is punctuated by blackouts - but Jackman sells every miserable second.
It's a straightforward road movie, a buddy movie of sorts even, but one packed full of grace notes: Xavier calmly taming wild horses loose on a highway; the look on the face of a particular character as he pulls a trigger; Wolverine, reduced to the stakes of a bum, taking a bullet to protect the deposit on his rented car. Patrick Stewart, meanwhile, provides a sage yin to Logan's raging yang, giving his most committed performance as Xavier at the seventh time of asking, bringing the kind of gravitas and pathos we assume he'll also be bringing to his next role as a turd in The Emoji Movie.
Let's not beat around the bush: important characters die in this movie, and that's absolutely a good thing. Wolverine more than anyone knows the value of a long lifespan (17 years running that superhero game) but it's all for nought if there is nothing at stake. Superheroes are routinely resurrected because box-office keeps their heart beating. A sense of finality is a rare thing indeed. Logan, and Jackman, know you can't secure a legacy by leaving a door open. If Fox had any sense, they'd let Logan be the adamantium bullet in the head of the X-Men series, because superhero movies don't get any better than this.