Went and saw Logan, Hugh Jackman’s farewell to Wolverine after over a decade-and-a-half of playing the character—and what a sendoff it is!
As a lover of comic books, movies, and comic book movies, one of my biggest pet peeves is when people say that the latest Batman or Captain America feels more like such-and-such genre than a conventional superhero film—mostly because such sentiments tend to be quickly forgotten and drowned out by complaints about “superhero fatigue”—but in this case, it’s a valid observation: like Mad Max: Fury Road, Logan is an unabashed, if not entirely traditional, Western. Retaining only the best bits of X-Men mythology and trimming away all the fat (and, considering the franchise includes such duds as The Last Stand and Origins: Wolverine, there’s a lot of fat), director James Mangold focuses on narrative and character development rather than fan service. He utilizes familiar archetypes—Logan is the classic gruff loner that gradually rediscovers his humanity after getting caught up in someone else’s conflict—but, as always, the real meat of the story is in its details. Wolverine’s every movement and gesture, from his clumsy, lumbering gait to his constant consumption of alcohol, communicates just how broken he is—physically and psychologically—after witnessing the loss of his family, the extinction of mutants, and the mental deterioration of his once-brilliant friend and savior, Charles Xavier (played once again by Patrick Stewart, at his very best). Like Bruce Wayne in The Dark Knight Rises and James Bond in Skyfall, our hero must claw his way out of the darkness, not to defeat some megalomaniac or thwart a convoluted conspiracy, but simply to find a reason to continue living when his mentor’s dream of a brighter future has already been utterly crushed.
Best of all, Logan is tailor-made for cinephiles. Mangold remixes elements from Unforgiven, Lone Wolf and Cub, Children of Men, everything Sergio Leone ever directed, and especially Shane into a wholly original work of pop art: part blockbuster, part gory exploitation flick, part road movie, part odd couple comedy, part tearjerker—in short, a real all-you-can-eat buffet, which certainly appealed to my diverse cinematic palate.
[Originally written March 4, 2017.]