From the first scene, from the very first word in fact, it is clear that Logan is far from just another comic book movie. It may be the latest X-Men film to the fans but James Mangold and Hugh Jackman have created something distinct and different. We saw hints of what they wanted to achieve in their 2013
Logan is a very different beast. It shrinks its focus to a fine point, it collapses the worldwide grab of its superhero brethren to an almost claustrophobic hold. This film is less about saving the world, and far more about saving yourself. There is regret, the trappings of responsibility and a dark realistic tone. We are a million miles from the yellow spandex and pyrotechnic overkill of previous X-installments. Cleverly, Mangold and Jackman use the distance from the comic book world in fine fashion as a plot point. It feels like Wolverine has been taken off the lead, and the film runs riot with this new found freedom.
Newcomer Dafne Keen impresses as Laura (or X-23 to her friends), and her relationship with Logan draws the themes of the film out – that of making a stand, making a difference, even if it’s only for one person. As the chaos around them grows, and their would-be assailants gain ground on them, the three broken individuals fuse together. In reducing the number of mutants on show, and crucially having Professor X and Wolverine shown as almost irrevocably vulnerable, the stakes are real.
The final battle may bring to mind Superman III for a moment however this is quickly forgotten in the final, ultraviolent scene. And we need to talk about the violence. Director James Mangold and his star have talked about their wish to make a proper R-Rated Wolverine film and Logan more than lives up to it. Faces are removed, heads, legs and arms sliced away, necks are punctured, walls are redecorated. The action is dirty, brutal and fueled with rage.
Thus far the focus has been on the shape-shifters, mind-readers and clawfingered anti-heroes who walk in this world alongside us. The time has come to tell human stories. The social and political undertones of the X-Men stories have never been subtle, yet it is in this most human of stories that the difference between us and them disappears.