Marvel superhero movies are usually defined by a PG rated narrative and an orgy of comic-book special effects showing worldly destruction on a regular basis. With the exception of Deadpool, that trend has continued with the recent movies released in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, until now. Logan, the swan song of Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine- a character he has portrayed with intense feral rage for 17 years, culminates the legend of its titular character with a perfect sendoff.
Unlike any conventional superhero movie you have seen, Logan is darker, grittier with brutal blood-soaked action, and set in a neo-noir western landscape. This marks a significant shift from the enjoyable PG-13 escapist fantasies conjured by Bryan Singer in the original X-Men movies and their ensuing sequels. In Logan, the premise is a post-apocalyptic world for the mutants, who are facing extinction while the handful of remnants are struggling for survival.
We have an ailing, guilt-ridden Professor X (who provides comedic relief with his quips) and a perennially pissed off Logan, all aging and grouchy and stubborn, fed up with his life and slowly being poisoned by the adamantium within his body.
A reluctant Logan finds himself on a mission to safely escort a new mutant girl and the entire movie is about the trials and tribulations faced by them enroute. Entrenched in cuss-filled dialogues and furious blade-slashing action, which actually looks refreshing to see instead of the CGI-driven explosion we witness in every other superhero flick, the movie is paced smartly.
The poignant moments between Logan and Professor X serve as the perfect foil for the adrenaline-fueled, rage-filled carnage that follows. For the first time ever, there is an integrated meta-narrative in the movie – the X-Men comics are explicitly shown and used to solidify the plot. There are several gut-wrenching moments also, which are in perfect sync with the overall tone of the movie- dark and morbid, swirling in sickness and despair, with any chance of hope or redemption being fraught with grave dangers.
It would not be an understatement to say that Hugh Jackman, in his final act as the Wolverine, totally knocks it out of the park with a gripping and nuanced performance thoroughly deserving of an Oscar nomination. Patrick Stewart, who has said this would be his final portrayal of Professor X, makes a strong case for the best supporting actor for his vulnerable, seizure prone depiction of an ideal mutant who has had a tumultuous fall owing to the degeneration of his brain. Another fine performance is from the young mutant X-23, but you will have to watch her yourself lest I may mention any spoilers.
Superhero movies are rarely liked by the Academy but if there was any case for a best picture award in this genre, Logan would be right at the top.
Are there any cons to this? The running time is a bit too long at 2 hours 21 minutes, and someone accustomed to watching fast-paced superhero action might feel a bit bored by some slow sequences, especially the dialogue-driven scenes.
Also, the slashing and stabbing becomes a bit repetitive after some time, so this can be yet another factor that can make some sections of the audience a bit weary. Nevertheless, the R-rated Logan is a genre-defying brutal saga, a new landmark in superhero cinema, and a fitting ode to the legend of Wolverine.