Wolverine aka Logan, the beloved character played so brilliantly by Hugh Jackman over the duration of 17 years and 8 previous films in the “X-Men” universe, is ready to don his claws one last time in his 3rd and final chapter.
As the movie title suggests, “Logan” makes do without the spectacle of expensive CGI effects and instead, focuses on the central tormented mutant. By combining Marvel mythology with Western mythology, director James Mangold manages to craft a stripped down story about despair, decay, and death.
The year is now 2029. Superhuman mutants have been driven to the bring of extinction with no record of mutant births over the last 25 years. The few who managed to survive now live in an abandoned smelting factory that resembles dystopia.
Wolverine is now working as a freelance limo driver under his original name, James Howlett. The older clawed mutant is dying. His invincible adamantium skeleton is slowly poisoning him, thus weakening his healing powers and heightened senses. To compensate, alcohol becomes an outlet for Logan to heal.
He spends most of his time scrambling to make ends meet and support his old mentor, Charles “Professor X” Xavier, now a feeble man in his 90s and no longer able to gain full control of his body or his powers. Even his legendary telepathic powers are now a danger to every living thing nearby as a result of his violent seizures. If you think Logan is in a sad state, Xavier is even sadder.
Also living in the isolated refinery is Caliban: a pale, sun-sensitive mutant with tracking abilities who is a makeshift nursemaid for Xavier and also takes care of domestic chores. Their lives are no walk in the park, but this trio can at least rely on each other on a certain routine.
Their status quo is disrupted when a Mexican nurse named Gabriela who recognises that James Howlett is (or was) the Wolverine and begs him to deliver her and her “daughter” Laura (played by smashing newcomer Dafne Keen) to a specific location up north. The young ferocious Laura may only be an 11-year-old child, but being the genetic copy of Wolverine (aka X-23) gives her no such youthful luxuries.
Logan ends up reluctantly becoming Laura’s guardian and agrees to take her to North Dakota, the location where she believes is an Eden for young mutants. Hot on her heels are Dr. Zander Rice (the head of Transigen who is responsible for creating X-23 and other children experiments) together with Donald Pierce and his paramilitary cyborg Reavers.
What’s interesting about Pierce is his sly southern charm, which he uses to mask his brutal lack of compassion. Although this henchman has a serious fanboy crush on Wolverine, he is one twisted horror. To him, Laura is just a mere puppy who ran away and he will stop at nothing to get her back.
The odds are, however, stacked against Logan and the ailing Xavier – especially when Caliban has been taken hostage. What happens next is a showdown of graphic bloodbath. Taking a cue from last year’s “Deadpool” killing spree, the berserker-raging beast within Wolverine is unleashed. He drops multiple f-bombs, punctures baddies’ skulls, and then lacerates their limbs.
Having said that, there is a distinct difference between the 2 “X-Men” films. As The Verge‘s Tasha Robinson points out, “Deadpool” finds cynical, bitter, and playful humour even in the most miserable situations.
“Logan”, on the other hand, embraces its misery, positing a world where heroism and even kindness are always brutally punished, and yet personal connection is the only meaningful resource left to its characters.
Another surprise, we must say, lies in Keen’s performance. We see Laura/X-23 matching Wolverine’s violence slice for slice with her own set of razor-sharp claws against a troop of adversaries. Whether she’s eating a bowl of cereal, screaming in rage, or sucking a bullet out of her arm before spitting it out casually, Keen – in her first big-screen role – is electrifying as Laura.
Similarly, Patrick Stewart is equally compelling as Xavier as he alternates between tenderness and profane gusto. It is during his moments of clarity where we get to see him still harbouring the desire to shape the future for the better. The movie is emotionally the strongest when the trio are sharing a scene together.
Of course, “Logan” is not without its flaws. The villains here, being pretty one-note, are somewhat disappointing. More over, the one person (don’t worry, we won’t spoil it for you) that can supposedly take down Wolverine essentially served no purpose. It was pointless to bring this character back from Wolverine’s past.
But all of that can be forgiven with Jackman giving one of his best performances to date as Wolverine. Not only does “Logan” provides an in-depth look into the titular character’s inner turmoil between his humanity and destructive nature, but his solo outing here is also grounded.
It’s ironic that the best Wolverine movie is without “Wolverine” in its title. Of all the “X-Men” films that have been released, this is by far the saddest and most serious. If this is truly Jackman and Stewart’s mutual swan song in playing these iconic “X-Men” characters, the pair certainly did go out on a high note.
While the weight of the graphic violence may hang over throughout the film, it is the daring emotional moments that linger longer. Don’t be surprised if you find yourself shedding a tear or two on your way out.
Watch the trailer here:
P/s: There is no end credits scene for “Logan”, but feel free to remain in the hall if you wish.
“Logan” is currently showing in local cinemas.
For more information, visit the film’s official Facebook page.