In the near future, a weary Logan cares for an ailing Professor X in a hide out on the Mexican border. But Logan's attempts to hide from the world and his legacy are up-ended when a young mutant arrives, being pursued by dark forces.
"We've got ourselves an X-Men fan. Maybe a quarter of it happened, and not like this."
It's tough to say goodbye to a character - or rather a particular actor's take on a character. For 17 years, Hugh Jackman has been the living embodiment of Logan, the mutant better known to comic fans as Wolverine. Jackman's ride as the surly hero with six indestructible metal claws and a bad attitude has seen many ups and downs, but in Logan, he's given a dark, gritty, and emotional sendoff. It's the film fans have always wanted and their patience is rewarded in a film that isn't just one of the best comic book movies to date but is arguably a damn good piece of filmmaking.
In the not too distant future of 2029, some things have stayed the same but a lot has changed. Mutants are a dwindling species and no new mutants have been born in years. The once infamous X-Men are no more. Logan (Hugh Jackman), the once fearsome mutant with razor-sharp claws has retreated to the deserts of Mexico. By night he works as a limo driver along the border in Texas. By day he returns to a dilapidated factory building to care for Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart) with the help of the mutant tracker Caliban (Stephen Merchant). As Charles' degenerative brain disorder requires stronger and stronger medication, Logan faces his own mortality as his powers to heal diminish leaving him scarred and battered.
Logan would like nothing more than to retreat completely from humanity - but his loyalty to Charles keeps pulling him back into public life. When a mysterious woman named Gabriela (Elizabeth Rodriguez) and a small mute girl named Laura (Dafne Keen) locate Logan looking for help getting to North Dakota, Logan's quiet life is completely turned on end. Promised thousands of dollars in cash, Logan reluctantly takes the job, only to find a heaping helping of trouble.
As it happens Laura is a mutant with very similar abilities and fierce temperament to Logan's own. With a gang of mercenaries after them led by Pierce (Boyd Holbrook), Logan has no other choice but to deal with his past and truly become the hero everyone believes him to be by helping Laura find her friends and escape to freedom.
Movie trailers have a bad habit of overselling what you're going to see out of a movie. You may see a killer action sequence in the trailer hoping to witness it in context with the film only to discover that it had been cut entirely. You may hear a great quip or a line read out of a character and then be saddened when that payoff never happens. So when the first preview for Logan was released - I noticed a distinctly different tone for this film. I wasn't anything like X-Men, X-2, The Wolverine, and absolutely nothing like X-Men Origins: Wolverine. Logan had the look and feel of a down and dirty, gritty, and hyper-violent new take on the character we've come to know and love for over a decade. Coupled with the haunting cover of "Hurt" by Johnny Cash, I was hooked and couldn't wait to see it. But I was also worried that the final product couldn't possibly live up to the trailer. Thankfully it did.
When I settled into the theater to see Logan, I was instantly struck by the film's sense of brutality and mortality. Not only was I seeing a film where Wolverine's rage was finally fully unleashed, but I was watching the hero I spent decades seeing in comic books, cartoons, and movies confront the ramifications of his actions. Not only that, but I was watching the final performance of the character by Hugh Jackman, the man who has embodied him on screen for the last 17 years. Coupled with what will apparently be the final turn for Patrick Stewart as Charles, the film turned out to be a thrilling but deeply emotional rollercoaster ride.
Understandably, some may be put off by the heavy and down dealings of Logan. There is very little relief from the unrelenting tone of this picture as it constantly wants to remind you of mortality's inevitability. Some may also question its place within the established X-Men universe as Days of Future Past found a way to right past franchise wrongs and leave Logan in a world that almost seems happy. So what happened from that ending where Logan appears to have found peace and the loved ones who previously perished were alive and well again?
My best answer to that is the quote I opened this review with. For me, it would seem that versions past events happened. We get subtle nods, the government agency who gave Logan his adamantium claws and skeleton. There's mention of the Statue of Liberty incident from the first film. He still has his samurai sword from his previous solo adventure resting on a wall caked in dust. And of course, there's Charles. I take the line where he's pointing out the comic books to Laura as Mangold and Jackman saying everything we previously saw was the hyped-up fantasy and that this film is the closest thing to Logan's own personal dark reality. After 2016's X-Men: Apocalypse, I'm perfectly okay with this film acting as a sort of retcon to everything we've seen before.
Not content to be a simple-minded action adventure film with mutants using their CGI-enhanced super powers, Logan took the bold step of stripping itself of that sort of fantasy. Sure, we get brief moments of mutant antics, but there isn't any spectacle. It's brutal, violent, and at all times somber. Taking pages from classic westerns, director James Mangold and star Hugh Jackman craft an intricate and satisfying sendoff to the character. I rarely sit through the credits of movies (if I know there isn't a post-credit scene), but in this case, I had to just so I could have the time to collect myself. While the film focuses on finality and themes of mortality, it also celebrates how time and life move on. This is certainly not the last time we will see Wolverine on screen, but it's the last for Hugh Jackman. And I couldn't imagine a better sendoff for his take on the character.
Vital Disc Stats: The Blu-ray
Logan arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of 20th Century Fox in a three-disc Blu-ray + DVD + Digital HD set. Logan and Logan Noir each enjoy their own Region A BD-50 disc. All discs are housed in a standard Blu-ray case with identical slipcover artwork. The disc loads to trailers for other 20th Century Fox releases before arriving at an animated main menu with traditional navigation options. While both the original theatrical disc and the Logan Noir disc have the same audio commentary track, the bulk of the bonus feature content is found on the theatrical release disc.
Shot digitally, Logan comes packaged with a beautiful 2.39:1 1080p transfer. Detail levels are robust featuring an impressive emphasis on the practical makeup effects used to age Hugh Jackman and Patrick Stewart. The desert scenery, the impressive production design, and costuming come through with terrific clarity. Colors favor the more earthy yellows and browns while allowing primaries to have their own subtleties. Blue skies have a lovely pop and the frequent splashes of blood are bright red and beautiful. Black levels are nice and inky allowing for plenty of shadow separation to create an image that enjoys a nice three-dimensional vibe. There is the occasional soft shot here and there, but nothing worth getting worried over. Free of any compression issues, this is a terrific Blu-ray transfer.
For Logan Noir, director James Mangold and his team meticulously pulled out the color and regraded the image to a near-perfect black-and-white presentation. As I stated in my coverage for the Digital HD presentation, this is a damn beautiful image that only gets better on Blu-ray. Without having to deal with streaming compression, details are much sharper, more in line with the original color presentation. Black levels are deep with strong contrast levels. The grayscale offers up some solid shadow separation that allows for a nice amount of depth and dimension to the image. Some sequences do appear a tad hazy, Logan's desert hideout where he, Caliban, and Charles live is an example of this. Where I really love the look of this version of the film is with the makeup effects. The stronger blacks and darker shadows highlight the terrific work and make the faces appear more haunting. This is a beautiful presentation that 's free of any tricky compression issues or banding.
Both Logan and Logan Noir arrive on disc with a solid DTS-HD MA 7.1 audio mix. As much of the film is very quiet and conversational, the dialogue comes through clean and clear, front and center. There is a terrific sense of space and atmosphere at all times that creates an impressively immersive experience. Even in the subtlest moments, surround channels offer plenty of activity, a step here, a gust of wind there. Imaging is always active. Low tones get a nice amount of LFE activity. Sound effects, dialogue, and scoring are well balanced and allow the mix to move from quiet conversations to explosive action sequences flawlessly. Levels are pitch perfect allowing users to set it and forget and enjoy the ride.
With a bit of relief, it would appear that 20th Century Fox has decided to break with recent tradition and bring fans a genuinely robust assortment of bonus features. In addition to the exclusive Logan Noir, fans get to pick through everything from a terrific James Mangold director's commentary track to deleted scenes to an assortment of well-produced featurettes covering a wide range of topics.
Audio Commentary: With Director James Mangold.
Deleted Scenes (HD 7:45) Comprised of "Logan Gets A Ticker," "Alternate Dinner Scene," "Caliban's Death," "Bobby's Action Figures," "Medical Tent - Connect The Dots," and "Mutant Kid Puppet Master." All around these are some pretty great scenes, but understandable why they were cut. Most of them are simply reiterations of the themes expressed in other better scenes, while a bit like actually seeing Caliban actually die was a bit of overkill.
Making Logan: Casting The Film (HD 20:34) Filled with cast and crew interviews, this is an interesting and very personal look at how they went about casting the new characters as well as bringing back some old favorites - only different than the last time we saw them and not always for the better.
Making Logan: Crafting The Story (HD 12:13) This is a brief, but still very informative look at the filmmakers' approach towards the film, its place within the series paying tribute to the past films while also being very different and unique.
Making Logan: Crafting The Score (HD 4:22) Marco Beltrami's terrific score gets to shine in this brief look at how Beltrami approached the film without crafting a traditional action score and aiming for something more dramatic.
Making Logan: Designing The World (HD 17:53) This is a very cool look at the impressive production design work that went into creating a near-future that's believable without being distracting.
Making Logan: Stunts and Fights (HD 16:51) I gotta say, I love a great stunts featurette and when you see the lead stunt coordinator is wearing an eyepatch, somehow it's even better!
Making Logan: Wrapping Logan (HD 4:07) This is a very brief but meaningful look at Hugh Jackman's last days of filming and the last time putting on the claws.
Logan proved to be an unexpectedly emotional and visceral experience when it reached theater screens. As the farewell tour for star Hugh Jackman and possibly Patrick Stewart, Logan takes the comic book action fantastics and grounds them in a gritty and stark world. It may be tough with few moments of levity, the film ultimately proves to be a terrific sendoff for Jackman's take as the iconic comic book hero. 20th Century Fox has delivered an impressive Blu-ray package. With two versions of the film, each with their own unique and effective A/V presentations as well a host of impressive bonus features. Fans of the franchise and this film should not pass up this release. Highly Recommended.