Logan, directed by James Mangold, is without question one of the best superhero movies we’ve seen yet. If the hype hasn’t been enough to make you run to the theater, here are some reasons the latest Wolverine adventure is worth your while:
X-23. Straight out of the gate, it must be said that the introduction of X-23 (Dafne Keen) is absolutely explosive! She’s a girl who kicks ass and despite the fact that she needs Logan’s help, she’s no damsel in distress. She can slice and dice with the best of ’em, speaking of which—
It’s real. Logan earns its R rating by refusing to shy away from a very real depiction of the kind of damage that’s regularly caused in superhero blockbusters. It’s inevitable that people will get hurt and Logan makes us feel every tally in the body count. But it’s also real in the sense that it has heart. Hugh Jackman, Dafne Keen, and Patrick Stewart all turn in tremendously tender and nuanced performances as characters who are navigating a world that’s firmly set against them because of what makes them different. This, in turn, makes it all the more heartbreaking when the storm clouds on the horizon finally catch up with them.
It’s a Western as much as it is a superhero movie. Logan falls firmly into the tradition of Westerns like Unforgiven and True Grit, and there are a multitude of references and treats thrown in for the cinephiles who might be looking for them, some more blatant than others. That genre-bending works in the film’s favor, as it offers room for it to branch into directions it might not have otherwise, and more importantly, gives Hugh Jackman the opportunity to really dig his claws into Wolverine.
It’s gorgeous. The movie’s set in a decaying, future version of America, and cinematographer James Mathieson has an eye for images that are both foreign and familiar. From the shabby complex that Logan and Professor X call home, to the sprawling vastness that is America, every image is immaculate, even as the action descends into bloody chaos.
It’s timely. James Mangold himself has said that the political climate affected the making of the movie. Wolverine is dealing with unrest and upheaval on a personal as well as a broader scale and it’s caused him to retreat because he’s not sure how to fight or to protect those he cares about. The villains seek to destroy and to control those who are not like them, and all of the action takes place on the country’s borders. But there’s hope, even in the grimmest of situations, and it’s a fitting partner to the thrill that Logan is sure to send down a viewer’s spine.