After six X-men movies, two wolverine movies and the runaway success of last years Deadpool, Hugh Jackman returns to reprise the role of Wolverine for the very last time. At this point I’m hesitant to call the three wolverine movies a trilogy, because both movies were so atrocious, the trilogy feels more like three separate attempts to make a good Wolverine movie. Well god darn it, they’ve finally gone and done it now with Logan, not that the bar was very high to begin with.
Fox have fulfilled on the fanboy promise of making an R-rated (Only a soft 15 cert over here) Wolverine movie. Finally, you’ll get to see Wolverine rip and tear through bad guys in the way that was impossible in the previous movies. Yay blood! For that reason, everybody says fuck a bunch, and motherfuckers get stabbed and impaled left, right and centre. At the same time there is something of an independent feel to the movie, for me the movie is at it’s best with the smaller quieter scenes between it’s characters rather than all the comic book theatrics involving evil clones and PMCs being turned into projectile gore fountains.
The worst thing I felt about Logan, that made me slightly cold towards it, is also what many would consider it’s biggest strength.
Put simply, Logan is set in a world where the X-men failed. And for me that frigging sucks, man.
The X-men were supposed to represent our better selves. People with fantastic gifts and powers, who get ostracised by society because they are different. Lo behold, Professor Charles Xavier takes them in, teaches them how to control their powers and become a force of good – they go on to selflessly defend humanity from those who think they are better.
Wolverine was always better as a part of the X-men. He was essentially this lone wanderer, this tough and difficult character with knives for hands who is taken in by the X-men and shown compassion. Each of the X-men have their own powers and internal conflicts that Wolverine had to accept and help out with. Together they were a cohesive unit – the X-men serve to humanise Wolverine. Being able to regenerate and cut people up gets to be very one note. How can you make a story in which your character is effectively invincible? Well that’s the reason the first two wolverine movies sucked.
Logan takes place in this dystopian future that feels all too familiar to our current political climate. It begins at the Mexican border where there is a big wall separating the two nations. There is a zero tolerance rule on the mutant section of society. There doesn’t seem to be many mutants left, they have all have disappeared or gone into hiding.
Enter Logan, who has long since ditched the heroic visage and moniker of Wolverine. He’s older, he’s an alcoholic, his claws still work but come out all bent, his healing ability is slowing down, he works tirelessly as a limo driver ferrying racist frat boys around the place. He works for money so that he may buy medicine, which he transports over the Mexican border to a settlement in the middle of nowhere, where a senile Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart) resides.
Xavier lives in this big empty water tank, that hearkens back to Cerebro – the structure he used to connect with other mutants out in the world. Unfortunately, Xavier is a shadow of his former self suffering from these seizures that amplify his psychic powers that triggers fatal seizures in all those around him. These can only be controlled through administration of the medicine Logan brings to him, but it causes him to have mood swings where he lashes out at Logan. He’s basically become a burden, far from the Xavier we knew and looked up to in the previous Xmen movies. There is still that wisdom that comes and go, but Xavier has reached a second childishness. At times it can be really hard to watch.
We are never given an explanation of what happened to the Xmen, it is implied that Xavier had an accident related to his seizures. Regardless, Xavier’s school for the gifted is gone – the Xmen are no more, we don’t even learn what happened to Magneto or the brotherhood of the mutants, but presumably they are gone also. Humanity has advanced oblivious of all the secret battles the X-men fought against the brotherhood.
It hasn’t stopped humanity from experimenting on child mutants in the name of ye olde super soldier plot. In comes the child, a girl called Laura (a real strong child performance from Dafne Keen). She possesses the same healing abilities as wolverine, and a similar set of adamantium claws that were grafted into her body for some nefarious military purposes. We learn that she was cloned from Wolverine’s blood, so she is in effect Wolverine’s daughter – possessing the same uncontrollable bouts of rage that old Wolvey is prone to. She is being hunted for by the authorities led by a bad hombre with a robot arm (Boyd Holbrook). Inevitably Logan buoyed on by Xavier must step in to look after Laura and transport her North of the Canadian border out of harm’s way.
From there Logan becomes something of a road movie, with the chase thriller dynamic of the Terminator as the authorities play catchup. It becomes something of a rolling odyssey, with daughter, daddy Logan and grand father meeting other characters along the way that challenge and colour their own disillusioned view of this failing world. Although spoilers, it’s still mainly pain, sadness and suffering.
It doesn’t quite hit the emotional moments as well as it perhaps could do. There is ample opportunity here to make all the grown men cry but it’s always falls short and the movie kind of just continues. It’s not helped by the fact that Logan feels largely unsympathetic at times. All the posters will have you thinking old man Logan will be accepting responsibility for this kid, but it never really happens. In so many ways Logan is Terminator 2, but whilst that movie did hit the emotional moments in between the action, even if it was cheesy, it made it more than just another sci-fi action movie. Logan could have gone in this direction, but it doesn’t.
It’s all rage against the dying of the light.
And whilst there maybe hope, you’ll never live long enough to see it.
Perhaps this is the superhero movie we deserve. No doubt Logan is a well made movie in places, through its fleeting moments of grace and character interaction. It’s interesting in how we are seeing this superhero movie being influenced by other genres such as the Western. It certainly is a strong note for Hugh Jackman to bow out from playing Wolverine, but at the same time there is such a bleakness, a cynical indifference, about the movie – it just left me cold and a little depressed. I guess what I am trying to say is that the world right now needs the X-men more than I realised.