Movie Review: Logan

Certificate 15, 137 minutes

Director: James Mangold

Stars: Hugh Jackman, Patrick Stewart, Dafne Keen

Logan starts with Logan/Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) asleep in the back of a limo when he is awakened by noises coming from outside it. Exiting the limo, he finds several gang bangers attempting to remove the car’s wheels in order to steal them. Logan advises them not to do this, at which point he gets shot and the gang bangers continue, believing him to be dead. Not the case, and Logan gets back up. A messy fight ensues until Logan finally loses his temper and kills several of the gang bangers, with the survivors running away.

LoganThe year is 2029 and Logan is working, under his birth name of James Howlett, in West El Paso as a limousine driver. Whilst he is waiting at a cemetery for his client, a strange woman approaches him and says that she recognises him as being Wolverine and that she needs his help. Logan refuses, but the exchange is observed by a man with an artificial hand. Later, after Logan buys some drugs outside a hospital, the man, Pierce (Boyd Holbrook), approaches Logan and says that the woman, Gabriela (Elizabeth Rodriguez), took something from him that he needs returning. Pierce works as the head of security for Transigen Alkali. Pierce also references that he knows that Logan is hiding someone.

In this year, there are very few mutants left. None have been born in over two decades. Logan is caring, with the help of the albino mutant tracker Caliban (Stephen Merchant), for Professor X, Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart), south of the border. Neither Logan nor Professor X are what they once were. Logan has aged, something the nigh-immortal never seemed capable of doing before, and is no longer healing as fast. His body is covered by scars that have not healed properly and he walks with a limp. Professor X is being kept medicated in order to prevent seizures inside a metal tank, in order to reduce the effects of these. He, too, is old, and something is clearly wrong with him as well. Something happened that appears to have left Charles and Logan as the last of the X-Men, and the professor himself seems to not be entirely in control of his powers, powers that are incredibly dangerous.

Despite no new mutants being born in years, and being in a metal tank that supposedly helps keep his powers limited, Xavier states that he has detected a new mutant, a young one. The woman, Gabriella, has a girl with her, Laura (Dafne Keen), and she offers to pay Logan to take them to North Dakota. Laura is the stolen item that Pierce’s company wants back. She is part of a super-soldier program run by a Dr. Rice (Richard E. Grant), and is one of a group called X-23. This, and the mention of “Alkali,” links her to the Weapon X programme that operated out of Alkali Lake – the one which created Wolverine himself.

Logan really isn’t interested in helping, but he wants the money Gabriela is offering. Xavier tells Logan that Laura – who seems mute – is the mutant that he had detected, the new one, one Professor X says is very like Logan. When Pierce’s men – many of whom seem to have cybernetic limbs – arrive at where Logan and Professor X are hiding in order to recover the girl, it turns out that Professor X was being literal not metaphorical when he said that Laura was very like Logan. For she, too, has adamantine claws, a healing factor – and a serious temper on her. All in all, she resembles a very young, better trained, and very violent Wolverine, and one who is in rather better physical condition. Rather against his own judgement, Logan ends up helping Laura and, together with Xavier, decide to escort Laura to North Dakota. Pierce and his Reavers are not coopering in this, and Laura is not the only creation of Dr. Rice’s.

Logan is apparently inspired to a degree by the graphic novel Old Man Logan. Wolverine is, by this point, a disillusioned and ageing man who has lost almost all of his friends to one thing or another. One of the few remaining mutants still alive, his body is finally failing him and he is drinking a lot, even for him. This all contributes to create a character who, while still dangerous, is no longer what he once was and clearly appears to be dying, something that he would appear to welcome. Yet he will get called in to do, perhaps, one last good thing, from a man who would likely never consider himself good, to help someone he has a major connection to, someone he never even knew existed.

This is Jackman’s ninth, and probably final, outing as Wolverine, a role he has played for seventeen years now. Excepting the spin-off film Deadpool, Jackman is the only person to have portrayed the same character in all the nine major films in the series, from a very brief cameo in First Class to several films, of which this is the third and final, focussing primarily on the Wolverine, one of the most popular comic book characters of all time, a flawed and violent anti-hero who still manages to accomplish a lot of good. Even X-Men Origins: Wolverine, a film which has largely been ignored in the series’ continuity, would seem to have got a nod in this film. Jackman’s portrayal of the aged and disillusioned Logan is a deeper characterisation than his previous ones of the hyper violent member of the X-Men, and it makes Logan seem, if anything, more human, especially as he now has some human frailties. Professor X is more of a side character in this film, but Stewart does a good job of portraying a man whose once-great mind is now failing him.

Logan has a 15 certificate, the highest for any X-Men film in the main series. Only the spin-off Deadpool matched it in rating, and previously all the X-Men films had been far more family friendly. The result, as can only be expected of a film whose two major characters are individuals with metal claws and serious anger management issues, is an incredibly violent film. Many, many people get stabbed, sliced and diced by the claws of the two mutants, as they take out their issues on those hunting them down.

In the post-credits scene of X-Men: Apocalypse, a blood sample was retrieved from the wrecked Weapon X facility which was marked “Weapon X” on behalf of the Essex Corporation. The link to Essex would seem to have been largely ignored for this film, but the blood sample presumably played a role.

Logan is really not that upbeat a film, and it gives the whole feeling of being the end of an era and of a series – there is no post-credits scene for one thing, so it’s unclear what direction the franchise will move in next (Jackman hasn’t completely ruled out appearing as Wolverine again, a character he is now intimately associated with). Even though this is an incredibly violent and action-filled film it actually, in many ways, has more character than most of the series. The periods of all-out, blood-drenched action are interspersed with the developing relationship between the tired and disillusioned Logan and Laura, a young girl who he has a very significant connection with, and the relationship between Wolverine and Professor X, as the last of the X-Men. The end result is an action film that is not purely about action, but also about relationships. Logan ends up being a film that is deeper and more moving than any that has gone before, yet still maintains the level of violence often associated with Wolverine.

 

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