Logan is the long awaited/eagerly anticipated R-rated Wolverine movie and it lives up the hopes of Wolverine fans in spades.
Based on a story by director James Mangold – with some elements of the classic Old Man Logan comics by Mark Millar and Steve McNiven folded in – Logan is set in 2029, a world in which mutants are almost extinct.
Logan (Hugh Jackman) gets by by driving a limousine and, with help of Caliban (Stephen Merchant), takes care of a 90-year old Charles (Patrick Stewart) whose bouts of dementia can be accompanied by what could be called mindquakes.
One day, while Logan is chauffeuring some people to a funeral, he is approaching by a Hispanic woman who begs for his help – to no avail.
In the meantime, Charles claims to have been communicating with someone, but Logan figures it’s just a symptom of his dementia.
In desperation, the woman, Gabriela (Elizabeth Rodriguez) hires Logan’s limo to take her, and a girl she claims is a mutant, to a safe haven called Eden.
Logan features a Wolverine long past his prime, his regenerative abilities are faltering and he no longer heals as quickly as he used to. He’s cranky and pessimistic but feeds Charles hope by planning to buy a boat and living on the ocean – away from everyone else.
Jackman makes us feel every creak in Logan’s body – and wince when we see that when he retracts his claws, the result is messy. He’s still tough as nails – as the film’s opening sequence in which a bunch of enthusiastic opportunists try to steal the hubcaps from his limo – shows. Logan really is the best at what he does – and what he does best is kill.
Stewart wins our sympathy as he portrays a Charles who is trying with every fibre of his being to maintain some kind of dignity as his mind and body fail. When Laura (Dafne Keen, superb in her film debut) comes into their lives, he does his best to make the trio a family – despite Logan’s unwillingness to even entertain the thought.
There are, of course, bad guys – this is a Marvel movie, after all – but they are mostly ciphers and/or cannon fodder. The only two we get to know at all are a cyborg called Pierce (Boyd Holbrook), who leads the small army trying to catch Laura, and Dr. Rice (Richard E. Grant), who has long since given up any pretense that his work is for the betterment of humanity.
In interviews, Mangold and Jackman have said that Logan should be seen as the Unforgiven of superhero movies – the violence is neither comic book over the top, nor understated. In the screening I attended this afternoon, no one cheered at any of the violence – the feeling seemed to be more ‘oh My God!’ than ‘Wow! Cool!’
Slowly, as the film progresses, Laura begins to win Logan over – which makes sense; she’s a lot like him, lacking only his training and discipline.
Keen is wonderful in the role – especially because as Logan begrudgingly becomes attached to her, she is longing for him to do so. If Logan wasn’t a comic book movie, I’d think she might have a shot a few Best Supporting Actress nominations (or even awards). She handles the film’s humor and drama – and action – with aplomb.
The film makes pointed references to the 1953 classic Shane – with its gunslinger hero who will always be a killer and never settle down. In a way, Shane is his own worst enemy – a case that can (and is) made for Logan here.
Mangold even takes the film into meta territory with Laura being an X-Men fan because of comics that Logan dismisses as maybe a quarter of the truth and ‘it didn’t happen like that.’ In this X-verse, nothing is shiny for long – not even adamantium.
In IMAX, Logan is an exhausting experience. It moves quickly and hits hard. It demands more of its audience than the usual comic book movie and rewards with unexpected details. There is no clever tag after the closing credits because when the credits do roll, there is nothing left to be said.
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