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Logan (R)




Logan (R)
Film Reviews by Amy Diaz

03/09/17
By Amy Diaz adiaz@hippopress.com



Logan (R)

In a dark future for mutants, Wolverine and Professor X are chased (as always) by anti-mutant bad guys in Logan, allegedly the final Hugh Jackman outing as the X-Men’s Wolverine.
It’s the year 2029 and while Logan (Hugh Jackman) can still mow down a group of guys trying to steal the hubcaps off his car, he isn’t the warrior he used to be. His metal claws don’t always extend as far — or extend at all without ever greater pain — and he appears to be crumbling from the inside. To make money he drives a limo for bachelorette parties and casino patrons across the southwest. 
He uses that money to fund a wreck of a compound in an abandoned factory in Mexico. There, a sun-sensitive mutant named Caliban (Stephen Merchant) helps Logan care for a wrecked Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart). Frequently ranting and confused, Charles is kept in an old water tank and kept medicated. On one occasion we see what happens when he isn’t doped up: he has seizures that sort of radiate out, causing everyone around him to shake and writhe as though they are about to implode. 
We don’t know why Charles is there, where all the X-Men of movies past are or why there haven’t been any mutants born in more than two decades.
At least, any mutants that people know about.
A woman named Gabriela (Elizabeth Rodriguez) comes looking for Logan — for Wolverine, really — with a young girl in tow. Gabriela wants Logan to protect her and young Laura (Dafne Keen) and get them to a spot in North Dakota where they will meet up with others and cross the border into Canada and safety. What exactly they’re trying to get away from isn’t immediately clear but it’s likely that Pierce (Boyd Holbrook), an ex-military mercenary-type with a biomechanical arm, has something to do with it. He shows up to tell Logan that Gabriela is looking for him and to insist that Logan call him when she finds him.
Eventually, Logan reluctantly finds himself acting as Laura’s protector. Even through his mental fog, Charles urges him to accept this duty. 
Perhaps because it’s stripped of the X-Men and of most other mutants, Logan feels very different than any of the X-Men movies that have come before. (Also there’s the R rating. You can’t discount the ability of characters to realistically swear and of the movie to show off some realistic gore in upping the “grittiness” factor.) I’ve seen coverage of this movie compare it to a Western, specifically (in a headline somewhere, Slate maybe) to Unforgiven. This movie does have that downbeat, futile-stand-against-black-hats feel. All other X-Men movies, even the other Wolverine movies, have  somewhere in their makeup the idea of the plucky band of X-Men protecting mutantkind and providing them with some kind of family. Here, it’s a sort of hopeless Children of Men world for the mutants and Logan is just trying to get by and trying to protect Charles, from the world and from himself. This isn’t the familiar underdogs putting up a fight against overwhelming odds. There is a sense that we are seeing two heroes after they’ve already lost the war and been broken by the aftermath. (It should also be said  that while Logan definitely has a more realistically dark and gritty feel than all previous X-Men movies, it isn’t glum, like the various DC movies of late.)
Where is all of this in the X-Men timeline?, you might ask. I’m not sure and I don’t think it matters. I think Logan is best when you think of it as a bottle episode. Generally, if you know that Wolverine can fight and has metal claws, Charles Xavier was once a teacher at a school and the two men have a complicated past, you can get along. 
Because you don’t have to know every minute of Logan’s backstory or Charles’ work setting up the school and mentoring the X-Men to understand the very father-son relationship these men have. As what Logan is doing becomes clear, it also becomes clear that he unreservedly loves Charles very much. And Charles, despite some very fatherly words about being disappointed in Logan, also clearly loves Logan, deep in the part of his mind that is still there. He loves Logan and wants to protect him with whatever abilities Charles has left as well — and protecting Laura, who could represent a nobler path for Logan, is part of that. This relationship between a fading Charles and an ailing Logan, as much as anything about supernatural powers, is what is at the core of this movie.
That relationship is also what gives this movie its heft and its stakes. I basically enjoyed this movie when it focused on these characters in the present and their relationships to each other. Occasionally, I would try to fit these character portraits with some previous iteration of them and that, I don’t know, hurt my brain. When the movie just gives us these men, aged in the movie and aged some 17 years in real life from when they started playing these characters, acting the heck out of these roles they’ve lived with for so long, Logan is pretty fantastic. 
I don’t think the franchise has given Stewart anything this interesting to do in years. This isn’t the serene, wise Professor X. He is the depressed Charles Xavier of X-Men: Days of Future Past, but with a finality and a regret that still-young character didn’t have. Here, Charles is fragile, weak, needy, battered and mentally cracking while still also the kind, desperate-to-help character we’ve seen in all these movies. 
Jackman’s Logan, meanwhile, has a heft his character has seldom had. Wolverine has always been the most fun of the X-Men but here he also seems the most human. 
Logan isn’t perfect. I found myself wanting more information on this bleak new world and how it came to be and yet also feeling like there was borderline too much private-army-chase stuff and not as much character study as I wanted. But overall if this truly is the end, at least for Stewart (who media reports has maybe considering this his last X-Men hurrah as well) and Jackman, Logan is a pretty solid way for these actors and these characters to say goodbye to each other. B
Rated R for strong brutal violence and language throughout and for brief nudity. Directed by James Mangold (who also has a “story by” credit) with a screenplay by Scott Frank & James Mangold and Michael Green, Logan is two hours and 17 minutes long and distributed by 20th Century Fox





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