Stefan Carlson, Photo Editor
The most emotionally moving film of the year, so far, is a superhero flick.
Yes, the genre usually known for schlocky, big-budget, popcorn blockbusters has evolved.
“Logan,” the newest addition in the X-Men franchise, is the source of the mutation.
The film opens as Logan (Hugh Jackman) attempts to secure a better life for himself and his companion, the increasingly-unstable Professor Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart).
In his endeavors, he is burdened with transporting the only known mutant to be born in the last 25 years — a young girl named Laura (Dafne Keen) — from his hideout in Mexico to a Canadian safe haven while saddled with the unstable, delusional Xavier all while being pursued by a ruthless corporation looking to capture Laura.
The film shines during this journey as the actors, given material overflowing with emotional depth, are allowed to show their skills.
Stewart is a standout, utilizing his Shakespearean chops to bring a nuanced sense of humanity to the aged Professor Xavier.
Keen delivers a promising performance as Laura, showcasing the young actor’s surprisingly-varied range.
However, it is Jackman who carries the film. His all-out performance brings an emotional gravity to a character who could easily have (and has been) played as an angry, drunken cliché.
Yes, most of the time he is drunk, but his drunkenness feels more like a cry for help here than ever before. Logan is aging, forced to face a mortality he never thought applied to him.
The result of this conflict, and the themes it brings along with it, is one of the most compelling of the year, thanks to a masterfully-crafted script by Scott Frank.
However, just because the film addresses more emotional aspects of Logan’s story, it doesn’t leave out any of the action. In fact, it ramps it up to 11.
The film’s action sequences are beautiful, no-nonsense numbers expertly-choreographed by director James Mangold.
Logan’s metallic claws rip through flesh as if it were paper, gouging out eyeballs and leaving no shortage of blood in their wake. The film treats violence as part of the everyday. It neither glorifies it, nor avoids it. The result is absolutely thrilling.
But ultimately, “Logan” is a cathartic film-going experience. The new pinnacle that all superhero movies should reach for in their storytelling.
It’s fascinating to watch Logan deal with his nearing immortality, his desires for a family and his love for his daughter.
The film perfectly pinpoints that human element that makes superheroes so compelling. They are super. They have powers. But they’re flawed, mortal, broken. And fascinating as a result.