The 400-Word Review: Logan
By Sean Collier
March 5, 2017
The original “Old Man Logan” run of Marvel comics is one of those speculative flights of fancy that couldn’t exist in the current cinematic climate: Iron Man and Captain America are long dead, victims of anti-hero sentiment decades ago; Ant-Man’s gargantuan corpse rots somewhere in Virginia; the Hulk has become the leader of a backwoods cult.
Ignoring that all of the above-mentioned characters are owned by a different studio than 20th Century Fox’s long-running incarnation of Wolverine ... well, it’s a bit much, and it doesn’t sell many tie-in toys.
That said, Logan, the tenth chapter in the cinematic “X-Men” franchise, isn’t aimed at the younger set either. Taking a cue from Deadpool, this is a firmly adult chapter of the mutant saga, carrying a hard-earned “R” rating and dealing with themes — loss, death, desperation — at odds with even the bleaker moments in any of the major-studio superhero storylines.
Logan (Hugh Jackman, allegedly in his last turn with the character) is lying low in a world hostile to mutants. Working as a limo driver near the southern border, he’s caring for a rapidly deteriorating Professor Xavier (Patrick Stewart) somewhere in northern Mexico. For the first time in decades, though, there’s immediate trouble on the horizon — a young girl with some uncanny abilities (Dafne Keen) has turned up, and the people responsible would very much like to track her down.
So begins a desperate road trip, in one of the only thematic ties to the “Old Man Logan” series; other than an aging Wolverine, a dusty aesthetic and the need to cross great distances, the film doesn’t have much resemblance to the source material.
And that’s for the best.
Because while “Old Man Logan” has a certain asynchronous, madcap charm, Logan ranks among the best superhero films ever made. Jackman and Stewart are eager to say as much as possible in their final at-bat, meditating on life, meaning and anger, while director James Mangold sets out to make a film that is less comic-book adventure and more western epic.
Perhaps it is a vision of what could be done with iconic superhero characters when finality is a possibility; set well in the future and with the promise of no further (timeline-wise, anyway) appearances for its main characters, Logan needs not concern itself with continued branding. It is a film that stands alone — and stands taller for doing so.
My Rating: 9/10
Sean Collier is the Associate Editor of Pittsburgh Magazine and a member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association. Read more from Sean at pittsburghmagazine.com/afterdark