James Mangold’s Logan, the umpteenth X-Men sequel and a sort of postmortem on the series, is a comic book movie for people who are past the point of fatigue with the genre (that would be me). And one of the reasons why this one works so much better than many of the other recent superhero movies is that it feels less like a comic book picture and more like a western – in fact, Shane is name checked twice and the final credit scrawl includes a Johnny Cash tune.
On the other hand, yes, superpowers are flaunted, from razor sharp claws popping out of knuckles to mind controlling an entire casino, but Logan is up to something other than the typical fistfights and set pieces, although there are still plenty of those.
Set in the nearish future – 2029, I believe – the picture finds the titular character (Hugh Jackman) looking as if he were leaving Las Vegas, if you know what I mean, acting as a limo driver (no explanation for that), drinking a fair amount and caring for an aging and elderly Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart, great as always). The pair are hiding out in an abandoned spot in the west and, since this X-Men film is the first to nab an R rating, swearing up a storm.
Their relative peace is interrupted by the arrival of a woman (soon to be killed) and the young girl whom she is protecting who, suffice it to say, bears some similar traits to Logan. A group of government spooks show up and a series of extremely bloody battles ensues.
And much like J.J. Abrams’ recent Star Wars contribution, viewers may be surprised to see very familiar characters bite the bullet. During one particularly unsettling sequence – which borders on being a step too far – a kindly family gets mauled to death by one of the picture’s lead villains.
The film plays less as a blockbuster film and more as a dysfunctional father-daughter road drama, albeit one that includes a lot of throats getting ripped out and limbs being lopped off. In the same way that superhero movies were never quite the same again after Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy, Logan feels as if the genre is breaking new ground. Comic book movies are starting to feel less and less like movies about guys fighting crime in spandex and more like crime dramas (in the case of The Dark Knight) or westerns (Logan). It’s a welcome change.
I’m not sure whether there will be further X-Men films, although I’m nearly positive that if this one makes a lot of money it’ll be difficult for studios not to attempt to make the case for another one. However, Logan feels like the end of something – and should it be the last of the series, a fitting one.