LOGAN. Clever blend of western, road movie, and superhero film. The final salute to the warrior

“Logan” is a clever blend of western, road movie, and superhero film, where all these conventions naturally complement each other.

Radosław Pisula

16 February 2024


Hugh Jackman has been portraying the comic book mutant since 2000, which is a rarity on a global scale. Unfortunately, while his antics in team films usually come off convincingly, his solo adventures have so far been disappointing: “X-Men Origins: Wolverine” is an ill-considered mess, missing the elements that make the character popular, and “The Wolverine” is simply a mediocre film, lacking in edge. However, after the huge success of Deadpool, Fox decided to take a risk, giving James Mangold a second chance and the green light to set the new film in an R-rated world, allowing Logan to shed his shackles and show what metal claws can really do to the human body.

“Logan” is a clever blend of western, road movie, and superhero film, where all these conventions naturally complement each other. Mangold eagerly crafts his story from various templates and doesn’t even pretend that it’s not one big collage – this is perfectly summed up in the scene where the characters watch the finale of “Shane” in a hotel room, while Logan reads a comic… about the X-Men. It’s just a shame that the plot is a very rigid template with evil corporations and genetic experiments (although the situation involving the underage characters can tug at the heartstrings, and some will surely discuss the similarity of certain solutions to the refugee situation), so the third act never catches up with the outstanding beginning. The story in the finale clearly falls apart because the antagonists here are incredibly bland – so much so that at one point they had to introduce a specific curiosity into the mix, intended to pose a real threat to the characters, as Boyd Holbrook and Richard E. Grant were given incredibly poorly written characters to play.


But apparently, it’s not the destination that matters but the journey, and the stops on Logan, Xavier, and X-23’s journey in the first two acts make up an incredibly enjoyable story, significantly twisting the previously known world of the X-Men films. I buy into this slow narrative, which can be compared, for example, to the works of Jeff Nichols – although sometimes it all goes on a bit too much. The subsequent stops before the overly exaggerated finale serve character development, cementing their relationships – here the true strength of the mutant film world is revealed, because Logan and dementia-ridden Xavier are already complete characters, with a rich history, which makes such a reckoning story a sensible consequence of their journey together: we get an excellent father-son bond, saturated with fatigue, grumpiness, but also great love – a real emotional bulldozer. You can see that these actors have been working together for years, so the feelings swirling between them are not a bit false. And the added daughter/granddaughter to the mix, mostly silent for much of the movie, only enhances this acting duel. Moreover, X-23 and Xavier steal Jackman’s last dance – the underage character has huge charisma and charm (fantastic casting), and Stewart once again proves that alongside Ian McKellen, he is the greatest acting asset of the entire series. Here he’s having a blast, maintaining the warm-hearted teacher stance (although sometimes grumpy) – even when his character’s situation is nothing to envy. And – perhaps most importantly – limiting the cast to the bare minimum allows them to breathe, as previously even in solo films, the Wolverine world was crowded with characters, after which they all ran around the screen like headless chickens.

There’s a lot of nihilism here, with the landscape covered in dust building a post-apocalyptic atmosphere (although it’s only the world of the near future, where changes are actually cosmetic compared to our times), and humor seems ostensibly dead in the ditch – there are a few genuinely funny situations, but thankfully no one thought to Deadpool it up here. And finally, this legendary R-rating is used superbly – guts are ripped out, heads and limbs fly in the air, but Mangold doesn’t revel in it like someone allowed him to shoot Logan in a hard version – curses, violence, and even nudity are sensibly used. Especially the latter, because here the claws sinking into a face are quick and naturalistic – without irony, smiles, or blood fountains. The choreography is also excellent, tailored to the characters – Logan moves like a bulldozer, striking to kill in one blow, because he has no strength for more acrobatics, and pocket-sized X-23 jumps around like a wild animal, using her size to her advantage. And even more bravado lies in the dialogues, because while they may not be particularly sophisticated, they are adorned with such natural profanities and in such quantity that even Martin Scorsese himself would sign them.


“Logan” is not a masterpiece – Mangold is just a very good craftsman and lacks an authorial grip on the material, which someone like Darren Aronofsky (associated with Logan for years) could have done, but ultimately we get an incredibly fresh addition to the genre and a concrete summary of Jackman’s adventure with the hairy grump. Although his character suffers, worn down by years of lost battles (mostly with his own nature) and for most of the film he wanders with a sour face and heavy breath, the actor himself still has a twinkle in his eye – proving that he deeply understands the character he’s spent a chunk of his life with, and never loses resonance for a moment. This ostensibly final charge of Wolverine’s with Jackman’s face cements the definitive version of this character. He finally got a chance to break free from the leash and play the character as it should have looked like back in 2000.

Ultimately, the director doesn’t redefine the genre (because this is no longer a superhero film, but a hybrid escaping from the clutches of spandex cinema), but skillfully utilizes all the goods he’s been given – well-developed characters, excellent actors, the category of age pushed to the limit, and holding the technical level. There are no frills or unique solutions here, but after the last few films with Logan, no one expected that – the director was supposed to finally release a film worthy of the comic Wolverine, and he succeeded with flying colors. The production is bloody, consistent, and brimming with emotions. There are also some longueurs, the finale is clearly weaker than the beginning, a few elements could have been significantly polished here – but ultimately, the audience gets a great action film that will still hold up in a few years. This is a road movie smelling of burnt sand, sweat, and coagulated blood – worth embarking on a journey with this strange crew.