About forty seconds into James Mangold’s Logan, you find yourself confronting a bloody Logan who isn’t able to stand up while puny thugs decide to assault The Wolverine. And somewhere deep inside you feel a little uncomfortable. Probably because all you have seen Hugh Jackman do in the previous eight installments is watch the healing and indestructive Wolverine fend off anything that weakens him with utmost ease. It all falls apart in Logan, Wolverine’s swansong and an enigmatic crossroad of fear, uncertainty and reality. Wolverine is at his most vulnerable self here and yet far more courageous than all the rest of the X Men movies put together. And this is what makes Logan an extremely compelling watch; the chance and ability to finally empathize with a ‘superhero’ in a much finer sense and to witness whether they possess the same fortitude once their ‘gift’ has been taken away from them.
Logan, set in 2029, narrates the endeavour of Wolverine, as he drives through the rocky, dusty terrains of El Paso with Laura, a mutant who needs to be sent somewhere safe and a rugged, dying and somber Charles Xavier who wants to make sure of this happening. Donald Pierce (played adequately by Boyd Hollbrook) is a raging current who needs the mutant and spreads considerable blood without any account of collateral damage. The repeated encounters take a toll on Logan’s already dying self and even if he doesn’t show it, over the course of time, he starts developing a bonding with Laura. He finds within her, the same embodiment of rage that turns people into monsters and sees Laura waging off the inevitable with a silent grace. The relationship which Laura and Logan share has several layers to it and can be interpreted in a much wider canvas. The influence of nineties western classics on the Logan is clear and critical. The homage is directly linked when Charles watches scenes from the 1953 classic Shane, and the lines are repeated again in a final scene. The dust symbolizes the ruins the mutant have brought upon themselves in their ideology of helping mankind marking their own destruction. Patrick Stewart is remarkable as a Xavier who is on the brink of death, set upon the call of epileptic seizures that capsize the lives of anyone near him and there is nothing he could do about it. All Xavier wanted his whole life was to stop people from getting hurt, and in his final moments he cannot stop himself from hurting people. This irony is a powerful strike to the entire genre which relies heavily on willing suspension of disbelief. Everything dies in the end, it’s all about the manner in which it is achieved. Mortals, superheroes, they all do.
Hugh Jackman could have become a lot of other things, a fine actor, if his brooded look would not have been entirely associated with Wolverine his entire life. And even if he strutted and limped along the way, in Logan he delivers his finest performance. Every scene is a rave emotional experience and comes with a satisfaction of being content if not necessarily happy. He is in pain and so are we, and the audience agrees to be a part of it sailing across in the journey.
Logan becomes an imperative movie in changing the face of the superhero genre. The need and allowance of superheroes to be vulnerable and uncertain instead of omnipotent and sarcastic is something everyone had been wishing for a while. In Logan, James Mangold manages to capture every element which thrives on the edge of this conflict and the swansong he creates, becomes a painting. It is a magnum opus, a bloody opera and a massacred theater room with audiences still lying out for view. And yet, it is beautiful.