Last year Deadpool was held up as being something different and daring in the comic book movie genre. It used it's higher certification to ladle on the violence, nudity and crude humour but underneath that it was basically comic book film by numbers, failing totally to do anything interesting with world of possibility it's source material gave it.
Now with have Logan, another Wolverine story, another story about one of the most seen X-Men characters. Logan too has a higher certificate than the majority of comic book movies. Crucially Logan does do something different, something new with the genre.
What we have here is essentially a revisionist modern day western with a comic book background. It certainly shares elements (and even some dialogue) with the film's title it echoes, Shane. It's the tale of a reluctant fighter trying to leave a life behind but being drawn back to the violence he's trying to escape.
In amongst it there's a comedy-drama about the relationship between two men (Logan and Xavier) struggling with the realisation that their best days are behind them, in this there are echoes of the likes of Unforgiven whilst the determination to do one last thing right (and the Mexican border setting) echo the vastly under-rated The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada.
Crucially unlike Deadpool's ultra violence for the sake of it the much bloodier take on Logan's world serves a purpose. It's quite startling the first time we seen a claw clearly through a head and a limb severed but it helps to really bring home why Logan is the broken man he is. Haunted by years of this he's become a hollow man just trying to hang together long enough to get Charles somewhere away from anyone he could accidentally harm during seizures that shake the world.
A legacy that Logan has to try his best to help young Laura avoid if he can. This is sombre stuff.
Hugh Jackman and Patrick Stewart both do their best work as in these roles in the series and indeed both put in very strong performances all around from across their careers. Both mixing ably moments of levity in amongst introspection. One notable scene sees Jackman move from the physical comedy of unleashing his frustrations on a car, Basil Faulty style, to packing an emotional punch as you realise what's truly behind his outburst.
Likewise young Dafne Keen excels as Laura building a real sense of a child haunted by abuse but still wide eyed at a world she's not seen who slowly becomes attached to her travelling companions despite being mostly mute for a large part of the run time.
You could argue that Boyd Holbrook and Richard E. Grant's antagonists are under-developed but this is a film centered on the emotional journey of it's three leads more that it is on the tale of comic book conflict. But you do find yourself caring about a family introduced in an interluding chapter as Charles tries to show Logan what he should be striving for.
The film is beautifully shot, a mix of scorched landscapes along the border, dusty ageing interiors, washed out greys and hazy sunlight is used in the final act as the metaphor of a day coming to end comes towards it's conclusion. Sharpe contrasts, clear images bring a feeling that this is the real world not the high reality of typical comic book fare.
There is imagination in the action (and as mentioned it all serves a purpose; one scene of Logan killing paralysed & stranded men underlying where he is mentally and how desperate things are) but the heart of the film lies in the drama surrounding it.
Deadpool was labelled comic book film making for adults. It wasn't. Logan is.