Despite having seen every X-Men film (aside from the recent “Apocalypse”), I had never seen either of the two Wolverine standalone films. I had heard enough negative reviews to have simply avoided them, not because I was averse to the idea of Wolverine in his own movie – he is truly one of the most well written comic book characters around, but more because I just hadn’t seen an example of a successful idea for the character of Wolverine on his own. Then along came “Logan”.
I’ll go ahead and tell you right now that if you’re one of those people who likes to think themselves “above” comic book movies, you would still dig this. I have seen many a superhero flick and there was almost no resemblance to those here. Sure, it’s about a superhero and there are great action sequences, but it doesn’t follow conventional blockbuster tropes. It’s actually a modern Western, gritty and down-to-earth, steeped in old filmmaking lore. What director James Mangold & co. were able to do here is hearken back to the good old days of filmmaking – sparse locations and sets, more character focus, simple but effective antagonists, and disguise it all in a way that also appeals to comic book fans and general movie audiences. It’s brilliant and a joy to behold.
I won’t go too much into the plot details of the film, because I feel they’re better left experienced and also because it’s better if you at least have a working knowledge of Wolverine and the X-Men going in and I’m not going to assume that everyone reading this has that. But even though prior knowledge will enhance your enjoyment and understanding, what I also liked about this film was that it is very much independent. It doesn’t concern itself with Easter eggs or setting up for a myriad of future sequels. It is content to exist on its own, in its own space.
Camera work is sublime thanks to Mangold and cinematographer John Mathieson. Gorgeous Southwestern landscapes are brought to full life, although there is an alternate black and white version called “Logan Noir” that I’m anxious to see as well. Story is concise, filled with emotion – mostly due to the fantastic camaraderie of the ever excellent Hugh Jackman and newcomer Dafne Keen who absolutely 100% steals the show here. Although the movie is indeed called “Logan” and it’s the title character we revolve around, Keen is very much central to the film’s plot and ideas and she is astounding. One of the finest young performances I’ve seen (just after Millie Bobby Brown), and one of the finest performances period I’ll see this year. Patrick Stewart and Stephen Merchant give very fine turns here as well. This movie is so wholly enjoyable and I can’t thank James Mangold enough for all the effort he and his team put in to make such an enduring and bold work of filmmaking.