I went and saw Logan last night. Much hype about the film, but it pretty well lived up to it.
I wouldn’t call this a typical marvel movie, in fact I can’t really think of it as a superhero film. What it is is a drama that happens to have mutants as its major characters. Their abilities play a large part in the story, and there is the usual lashings of violence throughout, but it serves the narrative rather than the other way around. What it is really is a road movie featuring a world weary Logan (Wolverine) who is slowly coming apart mentally as well as physically; and ailing Charles; and Laura, the runaway mutant at the centre of the story – and Logan’s daughter.
It has a depth very few movies of this type have. I’ve seen many people say this is the best superhero movie since Dark Knight, and I would agree. What they have in common is a darkness that gives them an authentic depth, with little of the showy and sensational SFX. There are fight scenes, and lots of them, but they’re brutal and real, rather than the choreographed spectacles we’re more accustomed to.
Hugh Jackman as an actor has often had that aura of near perfection. He’s a lovely bloke and looks good and everyone likes him and on screen he has some of that charisma whether playing straight roles or roles like Wolverine. Even as Wolverine he has been powerful and driven and something near invincible.
He has lost that veneer in this movie. I’ve never seen Hugh Jackman like this before, still physically impressive, but aging and vulnerable, constrained for much of the movie in a dark suit and heavily bearded, forcing himself to go on when he no longer really has the will to. He has come to the end of his tether, and if Laura had never turned up chances are he would have faded away. She does turn up though, and he is forced to action.
There’s a theme running through the movie of Shane, the great Alan Ladd movie, and the movie shadows it. Logan can’t escape his past, nor his fate. He is Wolverine, and he can’t run from it. And though he’d rather not he takes off across country, battering himself and others in the journey, dragging himself reluctantly from one confrontation to the next, and ultimately, like Shane does, he is compelled finally to do what he knows is right, to take things on one last time when it would have been easier to do nothing.
It’s a story of character and the roads we choose, willingly or not, and being true, ultimately, to the path we’ve chosen.
For me there’s no higher praise but to say it’s the sort of thing I’d have been glad to write.