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Logan (A Movie Review)

Updated: Mar 20, 2020



LOGAN (2016)

Starring Hugh Jackman, Patrick Stewart, Richard E. Grant, Boyd Holbrook, Stephen Merchant, Dafne Keen, Doris Morgado, Elizabeth Rodriguez, Daniel Bernhardt, Saber Bankson, Mary Peyton Stewart, Lauren Gros, Krzysztof Soszynski, Elise Neal and Eriq La Salle.

Screenplay by Scott Frank, James Mangold and Michael Green.

Directed by James Mangold.

Distributed by 20th Century Fox.  135 minutes.  Rated R.

Most of the Marvel Comics characters have film rights owned by Disney, which bought the comic studio and has been putting the characters to good use as part of their own series of Marvel Comic Universe films.  However, a few of the Marvel characters belong to other studios, and those studios tend to milk those superheroes for anything they are worth.

For example, Sony owns the rights to Spider-Man, and in order to keep those rights, they have to keep the franchise alive, so they are currently in the midst of the third reboot of the film series in just 15 years.  20th Century Fox has the rights to The Fantastic Four (three movies and two reboots in slightly over a decade), Deadpool (who has been in a couple of films, though so far only one as the main character, with at least two more sequels on the way) and The X-Men (seven sequels and prequels over the last couple of decades.)

However, arguably, none has been as overused as Wolverine.

A then-unknown Hugh Jackman was the breakout star as the sullen, side-burned anti-hero in the first X-Men movie in 2000, and the movie execs have been trying with little success to make the character a breakout success ever since.  Jackman has worn the claws (either as a star, in a supporting role, or in a cameo) in a whole slew of films: X-Men (2000), X2 (2003), X-Men: The Last Stand (2006), X-Men Origins: Wolverine (2009), X-Men: First Class (2011), The Wolverine (2013), X-Men: Days of Future Past (2014), X-Men: Apocalypse (2016) and now Logan.  There have even been some rumors that he may be showing up in one of the upcoming Deadpool sequels, though Jackman has stated that he is stepping away from the character after Logan.

Logan is a little stealthier than most of these films – it is not specifically named after the X-Men or the superhero character Wolverine, it is named after his alter-ego’s nickname: James “Logan” Howlett.  However, the inscrutable title is not hiding anything: fan boys have known this a new Wolverine film from the get go.

The good news is Logan is the best Wolverine-centric movie since the first X-Men movie.

A look into the near future – the story takes place in 2029 – Logan introduces us to an older, tired Wolverine.  The world has moved on from the mutants, and Logan is scraping by for a living as a chauffeur.  Logan still has most of his powers, but they all seem to be weakened.  His razor-sharp claws are more halting about coming out.  He can still survive a gunshot, but they are taking a lot more out of him than they once did. In general, healing time is significantly longer.

Logan is sharing a dusty abandoned Texas industrial complex with Professor X (Patrick Stewart), who is slipping into senility, and a kvetching Caliban (Stephen Merchant), whose super-sensitive skin makes the dust-bowl heat of the area a constant challenge.  They dream of making enough money to buy a yacht and to then just drift off into the sunset, but as so often has happened in the past, real life intrudes on their plans.

Real life comes in the form of a Mexican nurse named Gabriela and a silent young teen named Laura.  The teen seems to have the same powers and claws as Wolverine, only an improved version.  It turns out that she is his young daughter, who has the same powers and curses as her dad.  This originally seemed kind of odd, an evil scientist implanted the razor sharp Adamantium claws in the character, so it didn’t seem like it could be hereditary.  It turns out the evil scientist’s son was continuing his work and did the same to Laura.

Gabriela and Laura are being hunted by a bunch of angry men with lots of guns.  Logan and Professor X have to take the girl on a road trip to cross the border into Canada, where Gabriela believes there is a group of fellow young mutants waiting and Laura can live her life in peace.  Logan believes it is a fool’s errand and there is no such place, but he agrees to care for the girl anyhow.  So they head across country with the bad guys in hot pursuit.

A critic friend of mine jokingly suggested, pretty accurately, that the film should perhaps be called Children of X-Men.

The new movie is darker, and a little more intellectual than normal superhero fare, though in quite a few scenes that violence factor is a little high for my tastes.  However, that is a factor of Wolverine (and the girl’s) powers, you can’t expect razor sharp claws without some things getting all cut up.

Logan also gets extra style points for running Johnny Cash’s “The Man Comes Around” over the end credits, which may seem surprising until you remember that writer-director James Mangold had previously written and directed the Cash bio-pic Walk the Line.

Jackman says that Logan is pretty much the end of the line for the character, at least as far as he is concerned.  (He won’t 100% close the door on the idea of coming back, but he seems pretty committed to moving on.)  If so, Logan is a very good denouement for the character of Wolverine.  Actually, even if not.  As the two previous Wolverine films showed, it is very easy to stumble with such a specific character.  Logan finally brings the series to a fitting final destination.  I hope the producers don’t give in to greed and try to go back to the well.

Jay S. Jacobs

Copyright ©2017 All rights reserved. Posted: March 2, 2017.

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