To be honest, going into Logan I wasn’t expecting much, though I was hoping they would go out big. My dismissive attitude wasn’t fair to Hugh Jackman, who’s done a fine job playing Logan, but it was justifiable considering the franchise hasn’t always fired on all cylinders. No matter how good Jackman’s portrayal was, when everything else was mediocre, the whole thing suffered. Duh, right?
Well, forget all that. Logan is the Wolverine movie we’ve all wanted to see. With all the talk of it being a modern western, I want to go one step further and say that Logan is Hugh Jackman’s Unforgiven.
The comparison to a western is easy to make for a couple reasons. First, Logan makes the juxtaposition explicitly, highlighting a scene from Shane prominently in the movie’s plot. Second, the story follows the western theme of a weary killer looking to live out the rest of his days peace, whatever that means after the madness of his life, but is thrown back into the fire one last time (exactly the story in the aforementioned Shane and Unforgiven).
One thing that hit me hard, emotionally, is Jackman has been playing this character for the past 17 years. Jackman has been at it for all his career. His big break was getting the role for X-Men. In fact, as far as the character is concerned, Jackman is Wolverine, period. For this to be his last hurrah means saying goodbye to someone we’ve grown up, or old, with—we’re losing a dear friend.
Speaking of Jackman playing Wolverine his whole career, another poignant aspect of Logan is Jackman started this journey with Patrick Stewart, and here they are together again at the end. In Unforgiven Billy Munny and Ned Logan’s relationship is hinted at, but we’ve witnessed Logan and Xavier’s. There’s an unmistakable bond Jackman and Stewart have formed over the years that is palpable in their performances.
Where Logan really shines is in its evolution of the comic book movie. I believe that if a person went into Logan having never seen any previous Wolverine movie, or any of the X-Men films, that person wouldn’t know this was a comic book movie. It’s a sci fi drama focusing on the characters less than being about the explosions and powers (though, there’s that, too). There is nothing pretty, or slick, or “summer blockbuster” about Logan. It leverages the gritty reality trend in story telling, setting it apart from the other comic book movies which tend to be more glossy and showy, like the comics themselves. Even the title focuses on the man, not some larger-than-life character in a yellow and brown suit.
While my admonition in the title to “bring a tissue” (to wipe your tears) might be hyperbole for most viewers, I readily admit that I actually cried. I’m sure there are a handful of others out there who’ll need to sit through the credits in order to “man up” their geek tears. Patrick Stewart, in an interview on The Graham Norton Show, told how at the premiere screening, in a pivotal scene, Jackman reached over and took Stewart’s hand. Jackman was crying. Stewart did, as well. If you’re prone to tear up, so will you. Trust me, you’ll feel it when you see it.
Whereas I normally don’t like to spoil anything in my reaction pieces, I will spoil one thing, there’s no end teaser. Logan is it. End of the line. I give you this spoiler because if you need to sit through to the end, hoping to have something distract you from all the feelz, you might end up like me when there was no parting teaser—the reality finally sinking in with the final black screen: tearing up all over again.