Imagine leading a project for 17 years, each time you dive into it you get better at it than before. It's opened many doors for you and changed your life. You know you can continue & milk more from it but something inside tells you "don't run yourself dry - have enough to propel you into the next project". This process is not uncommon to creative souls and it was the case for Hugh Jackman and his stellar run with the Wolverine franchise. He did something truly extraordinary which was to pull out the big guns on his talent & influence to pay gratitude and homage to a role which made him a super-star. In his latest film "Logan" he portrays the character to its core essence and simply hit it out of the park. Inspired by what "Unforgiven" had provided to the western genre, Jackman's team does it for the superhero genre as his final curtain call for the role in a fashion any artist would envy.
As a comic book buff since my teenage years for more than a couple of decades ago, I came to know the character Wolverine very well like millions of fans. But when you grow up with it and you really know it, you may be forgiven to take a small ownership of it too. How Hugh Jackman was able to embody the character so well was just uncanny. Since his very first scene as Wolverine 17 years ago, I was impressed- "wow, this dude pulled it off just perfectly..." as I remember thinking to myself (worth mentioning that I was disappointed with how Cyclops was not even close). Hey it's hard to do, we're a tough crowd to please. I figured it was just good casting and great acting at the time, but 17 years on and 9 features later I now have another notion about Jackman and the role. He's become a A-list movie star and could've passed it on after 2-3 reprisals of the role as that's very common-citing creative growth blah blah blah. Jackman is a multi-awarded actor for other genres- he clearly doesn't need Wolverine career-wise. He instead fell in love with it and committed his entire movie career to it, and to close the loop like he did in Logan is simply sublime. So here's what I think now- as a professional he wanted to paint his ultimate stroke with a final curtain he can be happy with, a masterpiece.
Hugh Jackman did so with Logan with excellent writing and directing from James Mansgold-a film that is a motion picture version of the many graphic novels of past. For those unfamiliar with graphic novels- many would describe them as "alternative world, grittier, higher quality writing and artistry" than the average comic books. As the term suggests they are novels with social commentary and acute observations of our current misgivings as the human race- excluding a group of people due to fear, people's struggle to fight oppression and longing to be with family- all relevant right now. Jackman recalls how films like The Unforgiven, the Wrestler, Shane being the inspirations for this personal look into the antihero, Logan. How violence have marginalized him into a self-contained jail, the traumatized soldier barely coping with the repercussions. Listening to him talk about the film in interviews validates that he genuinely respects the fans, loves the characters, and truly understands the human story of struggles behind it all. If any of that gets too deep it's ok, just enjoy how familiar characters from Marvel are juxtaposed into a classic western film, set in a not-so-distant future.
Logan - it's gripping, real and emotional. So much so that both actors sir Patrick Stewart and Jackman got choked up in the final scene of the film at the Berlin film festival of its screening. Trust me, Mr. Stewart has seen and done everything in film and theatre, it takes a lot to get him to shed a tear. What a classy way to bid farewell to a role after so many years- to bring the best and deepest portrayal for the end. True craftsman of their art, for their fans, and to their characters. Just beautiful. I do however believe there's one more at least we'll see from Hugh Jackman on the Logan mythology, perhaps 10-20 years from now- a similar path Clint Eastwood had done with "Unforgiven".
Quick mention of this film-It's good- solid 4 stars. The scope of the film is not big but I appreciate the director's touch on how the world is changing and constantly pushing "relics" into retirement- such as riding into a small town and robbing banks, cowboys being cowboys alongside Native Americans. The relics push back via Jeff Bridges's fine performance. It's a modern film but you see the nostalgia for old-skool westerns throughout. Hell, you may not like westerns, but watch it for the insanely funny scenes with the waitresses from the diners.
A simple story of man rides into a small town, portrayed well by good acting. I liked the minor twist in the ending where the cliche final duel in the west shows another side. I liked it and it was a good escape for 80-90 minutes. I felt it could be typical of a novella you'd buy for a dime in the old days - the days of gun-slingers in the west.