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‘Logan’ is a profoundly human experience that transcends superhero film

Ben Rothstein/20th Century Fox

After appearing as the Wolverine for 17 years, spanning nine films and creating countless memories for “X-Men” fans around the world, the time has finally come for Hugh Jackman to retract his claws for good. For many, this is a very bittersweet decision done by the actor, and while Jackman owes nothing to the beloved character, to see him leave behind such a memorable role of his career is a heavy pill to swallow.

However, with such a strong fan base, this character could never go out without a bang, and I can honestly say that Jackman’s final Wolverine film, “Logan,” is nothing short of a beautiful superhero masterpiece.

Starting with the action, “Logan” is a heavyweight slam of brutal beat downs, fits of uncontrollable rage and a grittiness that has never graced the “X-Men” film series before. Logan’s claws slice through arms, legs, and leave behind gruesome slash marks. Through the blood splatters though, there lies meaning.

Each fight has an impactful reason behind it, and it makes all of the brutality evenly weighted with the heavy plot that carries it. This brutality also ties in beautifully with Logan’s aging body and how he isn’t the same frenzied killer that he used to be. He’s slow, and with each swing of his claws you can feel the energy he’s exerting, and with every blow he receives, you can feel the pain that courses through him. Without the blood and brutality, these feelings would be much harder to capture, and while the CGI isn’t perfect, “Logan” incorporates this new style with the utmost respect.

Following the new form of violence, “Logan” also looks to build off of plot points that other “X-Men” films have only touched upon. In the distant future, Logan’s bitterness and anger toward the world has grown so much that it consumes him entirely, and everything that used to bring him even a smidge of joy is nothing more than a memory to him now. He drinks constantly, swears profusely and is haunted by his dark past.

While caring for a sick and aging Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart) in the desert, Logan’s attempt at a quiet life is suddenly interrupted when he must escort a young mutant girl across the country and fight off the evil men that follow in close pursuit. That’s as much as I can really say without giving too much away; however, this basic premise is the catalyst for an emotional journey about what really matters in one’s life.

How much is Logan willing to risk in order to find peace? And more importantly, how much will he sacrifice in order to protect those around him? It’s through the deep impact of these decisions that “Logan” transcends from a dime-a-dozen superhero flick into a caring and touching story of human life.

While the action and story are fantastic, it’s the titular character that truly shines. This is the clawed beast like we’ve never seen him before; he’s old, weak, walks with a heavy limp and when he needs his animalistic rage the most, it isn’t always there to protect him. In this final installment, he’s more human than ever.

The big story arc for this character is on whether or not he wants to continue living with all the chaos he’s caused over his lifetime. He has become the most dangerous man alive, and as his age gets the best of him, he sways on how much is really worth living for. It’s truly heartbreaking to watch these thoughts enter Logan’s mind, but it all feels incredibly genuine and well worthy for Jackman’s final film. As a fan, you’ll be dragged by the heartstrings the whole way.

Although this film has its fair share of emotional moments, it still allows for plenty of laughs along the way. The highlight of the titular character’s journey is how he interacts with other characters, which brings as many funny moments as it does deep ones. His relationship with Charles Xavier is a great example of this. Charles hasn’t aged well either, and while his deteriorating mind warrants some serious challenges, his sharp wit is truly charming and adds some much needed comic relief to the film.

Laura (Dafne Keen)—the mutant girl he must help—is another very important piece of Logan’s character development. Logan wants nothing to do with this girl and finds her more of a liability than anything else; however, how their relationship evolves over the course of the film is truly remarkable. Laura is a girl of few words but her abilities as a mutant reminds Logan of what he used to be, creating a deeper connection than you’ll find in any other superhero film. This is only boosted by great performances from all three actors, making their relationships feel genuine and their biggest decisions that much more impactful.

“Logan” isn’t just impressive—it’s deeply moving. This is nothing like the superhero films that fans are used to: it is so, so much more. Full of both physical and emotional brutality, the direction Hugh Jackman decided to go for this final unleashing of the beast is nothing short of marvelous.

Charlie Turner can be reached at chturner@umass.edu.

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