Logan - 9/10
Hugh Jackman's final outing as the iconic Wolverine, not only delivered, but surpassed all my expectations.
Despite being an 'X-Men' movie, this is about as far removed from the X-Men franchise as you could feasibly get. In fact apart from the presence of Patrick Stewart, there is little to really associate this with the franchise. And as I believe it was intended, this stands alone within that universe. Forget Days of Future Past and the more recent Apocalypse, this one exists in it's own world, a long way from those.
The year is 2029, and mutants are on the verge of extinction. Their genes are no longer present in births, and haven't been for the previous quarter of a century. We find 'Logan' now living under an assumed identity and working as a chaffeur, in an attempt to earn enough cash to fully escape his former life, as well as his memories.
But then enter the fray young mutant Laura, and so begins Logan's final chance at redemption.
The performances of all those involved are exceptional. In easily his best 'Wolverine' role, Jackman plays the grizzled and conflicted beast to perfection. He's been worn down, he's tired, and he just wants to be left alone. But trouble always seems to find him. Alongside Jackman, Patrick Stewart gives us a very different Professor Charles Xavier to what we've had before. He's old, he's vulnerable, and mentally he isn't the man he was. We gage this through some of his dialogue, and on occasion he alludes to an earlier off-screen incident, that hints at how his mental deterioration has had a big impact on the situation they currently find themselves in. Jackman and Stewart also share some very touching scenes, and their relationship here is stronger than we've seen before; as well as very different to what we might remember. Young Dafne Keen deserves a special mention as Laura, her individual turn an exceptional one. Based on this she certainly has a very bright future indeed, and I'm sure we'll be seeing lots more of her before too long.
Director James Mangold (who also directed 2013's 'Wolverine'), has managed to defy the genre conventions with Logan. If I'm truthful I wasn't a big fan of that Wolverine film, and I was a little apprehensive when I heard Mangold was at the helm once again. However he has done an exceptional job and surely delivered us a first - a Best Picture nomination for a superhero movie - because believe me, that's how good a picture I believe this is. Unfortunately award shows tend not to like this genre, but with this we have much more than just a superhero film - it's part western, part road movie - and a class apart from others in it's grouping. And I believe it fully deserves to be recognised as such when the time comes. Lest my personal war with the Academy shall continue!
Great credit also needs to be given for the screenplay. As I've already alluded to, there are some genuinely moving moments between Jackman and Stewart, that at times ground the film and remind us that here the mighty are still human after all. And given that Keen doesn't have much to say in the film, she does have much to do, and boy does she do it very well. Her's is a predominantly physical performance, with a lot of bite, and she carries it off brilliantly through some excellently choreographed fight scenes. Throughout she also develops a very beliveable relationship with Jackman, one that video game fans could easily relate to with Ellie and Joel from Sony's 'The Last of Us' (there is also more than a passing resemblance too). The bond between them growing stronger, as the threat to their lives becomes ever more deadly. Logan also shows us his instinct to protect is still as strong as it once was for Rogue, but age and illness has caught up with him, and his healing ability is not what it once was. His fight not as strong either, but his will just as fierce. And this is all handled very well in the script by Mangold and his co-writers, Scott Frank and Michael Green. Touches of poignancy around the violence don't feel misplaced or forced either; certainly there is a gentle side to it all, uplifting in places too, but never does it descend too far into sentiment, and it maintains it's "grit" (that much overused word we all love to use when describing our darker superhero chapters).
And make no mistake, this is at times a very dark movie. I certainly won't spoil anything for anyone, but there is plenty of brutality, and more than a few scenes that remind us death remains a big part of superhero lore. Even if we may not normally see it, particularly in the more family oriented Avengers for example. In fact this is more akin to the recent Marvel TV outlay, Daredevil springing to mind for those familiar with that series. It could and should in my opinion have garnered an 18 certificate for some of the violence, but then I guess that would no doubt have deprived many of a truly wonderful 2 hours. And in mentioning that I've seen some complaints that the film is too long, but they should be immediately disregarded. The pacing of it is spot on - again, great credit to Mangold here - and it all builds to an exhilarating finale that certainly does not disappoint. As well as a memorable final scene, that's more than a fitting farewell for Jackman.
So in conclusion, it's quite simply another 2017 must see movie. Not just if you're a superhero fan, because like I say, this is more than just a superhero film. It's as brutal as it is affecting - yet always engaging. And for me easily the best of the genre since Nolan's 'The Dark Knight', some 10 years previous. It wouldn't be fair to compare the two, but I would say this raises the bar like that film did back then, and it will be interesting to see what follows outside of the 'Avengers' universe for Marvel. And particularly now for the 'X-Men' franchise. Because I just can't see this being bettered, especially now Jackman has retracted those claws of his for the final time too.
So a big nod to James and Hugh, and Patrick, and everyone else involved in the making of this film. For they got it right, and managed to send off a huge comic book legend in the most perfect way they could have. And I can't wait to see it again.