This review is of the TV-14 edited version of the film. All thoughts below should be addressed as such as a review of the unedited version would be more negative
Wolverine’s had a checkered history with his films. Most people didn’t care for the first one or even the second all that much. This was the one that finally made the books as a definitive title for the character. At least for most people because after seeing this one I can confirm that it is the weakest film in the X-Men franchise. Yes, weaker than X-Men origins. It’s a very depressing look at how the Marvel Universe could have turned out for the mutants and Wolverine never really got to have his happy ending.
The movie starts up in the future where Wolverine is even more of a drunk than usual and doesn’t have any qualms about using his claws on people now. He’s just sick of everything turning out so badly so he’s been saving up money for a while now. He’ll take Professor Xavier away and they’ll both basically die. Wolverine even got himself some adamantium bullets to finish the job. Before any of this can happen, a lady appears asking for his help. Wolverine definitely says no since his adventuring days are over but she is murdered and her daughter Laura ends up hitching a ride.
Professor Xavier insists on their helping her so Wolverine is stuck now. He’ll have to try and get her to her final destination which is supposed to be a safe haven from the mutant hunters. This won’t be easy though as something is up with Wolverine’s abilities and his healing regeneration has been greatly reduced. Meanwhile Xavier has a lot of seizures now and can barely use his abilities either. Time is not on their side so the race is on.
I definitely have a lot of issues with the film, mostly just around how depressing it all is so lets go with the positives first. The fight scenes are very solid. I think that characters with a strong regeneration ability should be used to fighting a little recklessly because any trade is actually in their favor. So they can be good with either landing hits on their own, or dealing out equal damage. It makes sense so I’m cool with that and Wolverine does get in some good combos once he gets going.
I do think he feels very nerfed but at least there is a story reason for it. Otherwise I would expect Wolverine to look much better in this film. Another positive is that Laura’s character was handled very well. She has grown up with a rather lousy life at this point and so she is doing her best to move on forward. She doesn’t dwell on the past all that much and only talks when necessary. She really just wants to complete her mission and get to safety to put this life of violence behind her. When she does fight Laura is calculated and ruthless in destroying her opponents.
She’s not some kind of super hero so she doesn’t have to worry about the mercy rule. Laura’s life has always been in a do or die scenario so if she doesn’t strike quickly then she knows that it could all be over. I thought she was definitely the highlight here and in general I always liked her character. It would be a lot of fun to see her more in some future movies.
Okay now lets talk about some of the iffy stuff. First we have to talk about Wolverine. I’m cool with a main character being reluctant to help and not wanting to get back into the hero game. So when he turns the lady down the first few times you can understand. There is no obvious threat at the moment and there are presumably others who can help. Once she asks him for help again by flagging his car (Wolverine runs an Uber type operation) and it’s obvious that she is in critical danger, he shouldn’t have left her again.
Bring her and Laura with him in the car. Abandoning her was just an awful look and I can see why Laura was so upset. Logan tries abandoning Laura several times as well later on in the film. He also puts Caliban in a rather bad spot by having him drive off with the villain. This version of Logan has absolutely 0 qualms about killing so just stab the guy a few more times to make sure that he doesn’t get up,. I’ll give him less grief about this though since he thought that the guy was dead.
Logan is just way too depressed here though to the point where he acts like a villain. It’s almost like Bruce Wayne nearly murdering Terry McGuiness back in the first episode of Batman Beyond by turning off the suit. There’s a line that you cross when you go too far into being a thorn in the way of justice. That’s just how Logan is here and it takes an extremely long time until he finally gets ready for action.
Then you throw in the fact that he’s a lot weaker here and it’s annoying to see him lose just about every fight that he’s in. Common thugs are beating him up left and right, never mind the X-24 clone who really lays him out. Even if Wolverine’s not a nice guy anymore, you hope to see him getting some wins but until his rage mode near the end he is getting thrown around a whole lot. It’s not cool and it definitely doesn’t help him as a character. I just didn’t like Logan here, his days of being the Wolverine were definitely long gone.
I can’t say that I liked how Xavier was portrayed either. The guy is half crazy and can’t even control his own abilities with the seizures now. I have a super hard time believing that this could happen to a telepath, particularly one of Xavier’s ability. The twist of how this affected the X-Men was also awful. It’s certainly a convenient way to make sure that nobody else shows up but it’s not satisfying at all. To think that this is how it would all end after so many battles and fights to achieve peace between humans and mutants.
This ending is certainly not what anyone would have hoped for. I’d have much preferred Xavier to go out in a blaze of glory or something like that. In the end, the world went from being fantastical to quite normal since the world seems like any everyday place now. At least Caliban seemed like a reasonable guy right from the start for the heroes. He was probably the only one who seemed like a nice guy with no drawbacks so of course things get really rough for him here.
As for the villains, Pierce is the main one and he’s okay I guess. There’s just not a lot to him and you could think of the guy as an average thug only he’s got some tech so he can fight a little bit. I think with a bit more screen time he could have been better as the charismatic kind of villain but the film was not able to pull that off. Dr. Zandar is your average twisted scientist villain who just likes to be as evil and cruel as possible so there’s not much to him either. Not a quality villain.
The only one who seemed solid was X-24. At first I actually thought he was Sabretooth who somehow managed to return to the main lines once more but the twist worked out rather well. I like the idea of this guy being as savage as Wolverine was in his prime so the dilemma is in how to take this guy out. He really is quite strong and made for an impressive threat. Whenever he was on screen you knew that things were going to get really tough for the heroes.
As you’d probably expect, this film gets very violent. You really have the claws in full force by both the heroes and villains with the usual human experimentation going on as well. It’s trying really hard to be the most violent of the X-Men films to live up to the Wolverine rep and it earns this but at the detriment of the film. You don’t need all of this excessive violence and it takes away from the action scenes. The movie definitely should have toned things down and it would have helped out.
At least the ending of the film is solid enough. I didn’t have any issues with it and it seemed like a classic way to end things. I absolutely would have preferred a happier ending with more room for big sequels and all that but it still wasn’t bad. It’s not a grim dark ending either, just more of a bitter sweet one so the heroes couldn’t win on all fronts and had to settle for a few.
At the end of the day, part of the problem with this film is that it’s going more for an apocalyptic future vibe rather than being a full blown comic book movie. You don’t have too many big battles with lots of super abilities and flashy CGI. Instead you usually have very dreary backgrounds with the characters fighting very ordinary humans aside from X-24. The fact that the humans do well is sad in itself. At least by the end you have them taking the Ls as the heroes finally get ready for combat.
Overall, Logan’s not a good movie. It really wrecks Logan’s character quite thoroughly and I would say that Xavier was really mishandled as well. Laura was a shining point in the movie at least. You’re better off watching Dark Phoenix as the true end point to the X-Men series as that one soared above expectations and did deliver with a lot of fun fights and cool plots going on. If Wolverine does get another film, I’d like them to just put him in a fun setting and let us see Wolverine the superhero as opposed to Logan, the jaded old timer.