In a turn for the superhero genre, the writers of Logan craft a story not about a villain finding a vulnerability to use against the hero, but one of the hero dealing with their own personal vulnerability.
The story careens through expensive, loud chase scenes and especially brutal claw-to-face fights. They’re secondary though. If DC’s intent was to “adult” Batman and Superman last year, they failed – Logan drapes itself in superhero narrative maturity.
It’s gory and it’s coarse. Patrick Stewart so rarely breathes expletives with such number as he does in Logan. The R-rating is comic book marketing; Wolverine finally has his chance to slice through rooms of faceless thugs, no cautious editing required. Therein is not, however, the maturity. Instead, Logan tells a saga of an elder superhero, fragile and introverted, forced for the first time to realize the consequences of his selfishness.
As with all X-Men tales, Logan comes embedded with a social conscious. Hugh Jackman’s morose take on a character, explored in cinema for 17 years now, finds itself crossed with a renewed immigration cause. The sensational Dafne Keen bores into Logan’s life, needing to rush to the Canadian border for asylum turning the genre into a road movie and classic western, baked with modern dialog. Final images of young children sprinting to the border as gunmen attempt to stop them eerily speak on the issues.
Set in a near future, Logan’s world jumps ahead, yet so few years, the design isn’t alien. Changes come subtly, a world now almost entirely without mutants, if forever changed by their existence. Logan himself is part of a vanishing, nearly extinct species, existing, if barely. With Logan, Charles, and Caliband confined to rusting desert outposts and impoverished, little sign of heroism exists. The world almost appears stabilized without them. Logan is a disenfranchised war hero waiting for an end.
Logan earns its emotive value – this isn’t a case of a studio trying something new , breaking a worn mold, and earning easy credit for the attempt. Hugh Jackman’s (supposedly) final turn as Wolverine (or what’s left of Wolverine) allows the actor a dramatic range, expressing a sorrow undercut in previous films by the need for high-caliber action. Better still, on its own, pulled away from the dozen or so films which preceded it, Logan feels complete. There’s visible history and intelligent development of the world, establishing a past through natural dialog.
Through the lens of a previously invulnerable now decomposing screen hero, Logan concerns itself with coping. Dealing with aging and the maturity which comes alongside presents a stunning internal struggle for the film to wrestle with.