Review: ‘Logan’ (Days of Future Present)

One of the best superhero films to date (that isn’t actually a superhero film).

Once called “The Wolverine,” Logan (Hugh Jackman) isn’t doing so well. The bullet holes that once healed instantly take effort, thugs he used to wallop without a thought take too much time, and even glasses are needed to read his mobile texts. Working as a chauffeur in Texas, Logan is saving up cash as fast as he can, but his biggest worry is over the mental state of his friend Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart) in his declining years. Keeping out of the public eye abruptly becomes impossible as a new complication enters Logan’s life: a young girl with a familiar attitude… and claws to match.

Since the 2000 X-Men movie that launched Hugh Jackman and his Wolverine into international cinematic stardom, the franchise has had its ups and downs. Hopes that Bryan Singer’s helming of X-Men: Apocalypse would continue the high note following X-Men: Days of Future Past were dashed with poor performance and poor reviews, never mind rumors that Jackman was looking to hang up his adamantium claws (it’s tough playing the tough). One thing did change, however: the success of Deadpool backed by a big mainstream studio touting an R-rating for a franchise flick. With the announcement that Jackman was playing Wolvie for the final time AND that it would be rated R, will Hugh’s final outing in the X-Men universe worth his claws?

Witness the end of a superhero’s career… or, perhaps, the end of a man. Logan has always been the guy everyone needs who could never seem to get things right with himself, and this film exemplifies his purpose: he’s at his best when protecting others. For Wolverine’s previous two solo outings, the story has been finding the willingness to get involved, but this is also a future story: whatever happened to the X-Men? It isn’t set all that far into the future, either; there are plenty of revelations as to what happened between then and “now,” and much of it is jaw-dropping. Sadly, like all Marvel continuity, it’s also subject to the ebb and flow of the writer’s whim, but for the purposes of this tale, this is for keeps… whatever happens.

Hugh Jackman takes on more than his typical duties (you’ll see) and gives it his usual all, so let’s mention the other players. Patrick Stewart’s aged Prof. X could be argued as getting a deserving fate; it’s the collateral damage that’s in question. Stephen Merchant plays Caliban, a former villain with little left to lose set upon gaining some small shred of redemption for himself; his part seems bigger than it is and little of it is wasted. Boyd Holbrook’s Donald Pierce — yep, the former cyborg Hellfire Club charter member — has been reduced to head merc in charge of reacquisitions, but it’s a meaty part if altogether different from his comic book counterpart (which is par for the course concerning the X-Men film franchise).

What works in Logan that fails as a plot device in Wolvie’s previous solo films is who needs his help, this time being Laura Kinney aka X-23, a young lady who’s more femme fatale than helpless victim. The character is portrayed by Dafne Keen, a Millie Bobby Brown lookalike who tumbles, performs martial arts, and manages to convince you an eleven-year old can be deadly… and that’s before her claws come out. Needless to say, if a franchise film continues from this point — even as its own continuity — Keen appears more than capable of helming her own franchise of X-Kids, so why not?

Come for the adamantium claws but bring a box of tissues; you knew this was going to happen sooner than later.

Logan is rated R for strong brutal violence and language throughout, some brief nudity, and never raising a hand to a mutant child.

4 Skull Recommendation Out of Four

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