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TAC Reviews...Logan

 

This film marks both the end of the X-Men movies and Wolverine spin-offs but also the final time that Hugh Jackman will appear as the titular character. Having first appeared in X-Men 17 years ago, Jackman has appeared in one form or another in every X-Men film to date. Due to Jackman’s age (he turns 50 this year) it is not surprising that this is the last time we will see Wolverine because whilst the character doesn’t age, the actor does so there comes a time when the actor must let the character go. Unlike previous Wolverine films in which Patrick Stewart only cameos as Professor Charles Xavier, this time Stewart is a key cast member and this film will delve much deeper into the characters of both men than any film that has come before it.

 

Logan Poster

 

My usual short introduction got a little side tracked, as usually I just say things like the film was released in 2017 and features Hugh Jackman reprising the role as Logan aka Wolverine, with Patrick Stewart as Charles Xavier with Stephen Merchant as Caliban and introducing Dafne Keen as Laura. Naturally a lot has changed for Logan since the events of Days of Future Past so allow me to bring you up to date.

 

The year is 2029 and Logan is working in Texas as a limo driver, he has aged considerably due to the fact that the adamantium that is fused to his skeleton is poisoning him (I’m honestly not sure of the adamantium was always toxic and his ability to regenerate has just always cured him of its toxicity or the adamantium has finally caused his healing factor to slow down which is now steadily poisoning him). Anyway, he is caring for Charles Xavier who is suffering from neurogenerative disease which is causing him to lose control of his telepathic powers. Logan is his caretaker and is struggling to keep Charles on medication to prevent him from having seizures which are potentially lethal to mutants around him and cause humans to freeze in place. The pair are aided by an albino mutant named Caliban. Logan is working on getting enough money to buy a boat so he and Charles can live out on the ocean where presumably Charles won’t be a danger to anyone around him any longer.

 

On a day like any other Logan is approached by a woman named Gabriela who wants Logan to take her and her daughter Laura to North Dakota, and will pay him enough money to get himself and Charles the boat Logan wants. Logan refuses but is then approached by Donald Pierce, the chief of security of a company called Alkali-Transigen, who wants Gabriela and her daughter. Logan kicks Pierce out of his limo and reluctantly Logan agrees to help Gabriela but when he goes to pick them up he finds Gabriela murdered and her daughter is nowhere to be seen.

 

Returning to his home across the Mexican border, Logan discovers Laura is hiding in the boot of the limo. Charles is excited at the prospect of a new mutant as no new mutants have been born in the past 25 years. Unfortunately Pierce follows Logan and attempts to take Laura into custody as Logan attempts to escape with Charles.

 

It turns out that Laura and Logan have far more in common than Logan first realised as she too has accelerated healing and has adamantium claws. She swiftly dispatches Pierce’s security detail but Pierce himself is left alive. Charles, Logan and Laura are forced to run as Pierce pursues them both and captures Caliban using him to track where Logan has gone. Faced with the prospect of his own mortality, his body not healing as it once did, and having to look after Charles, who’s powers are becomingly increasingly unpredictable, Logan must face the fact that maybe his time has finally come…

 

So, the thing that you have to understand going into this film is that the set-up is a bit confusing, now you know how Days of Future Past basically rewrote the original films’ canon, this film is taking place after the events of that timeline. At the end of Future Past it seemed that the actions of the mutants in the past had now created a Golden Age for all mutants, as Charles’ school for gifted youngsters was thriving, Jean Grey and Scott Summers were alive and well. Plus the X-Mansion was a safe haven for all mutants. It seemed that finally mutants had been accepted into society and perhaps there was a future in which humans and mutants could live together side-by-side. However, by the events of Logan all mutants with the acceptation of Charles, Caliban and Logan himself are all dead. How the other mutants disappeared is explained later on but I will talk about that in a bit. You’ll know when because I will drop a spoiler warning before I…well…spoil anything.

 

The majority of the film takes place during the road trip from Mexico to North Dakota and so we don’t see the X-Mansion, the jet or any of the locations that we are familiar with from previous films. It is not really explained what has happened to Charles’ home or why and how he and Logan ended up in Mexico. Plus it is never explained why they are struggling with money when surely if they had access to the jet they could have simply flown to some deserted island to live in peace. The point is that there are major gaps between the events of the final moments of Future Past and what is happening here.

 

There is a lot to like about this film and it has an American R-rating which means the film has a lot more violence, bad language and gore than any previous X-Men film, but this is a good thing. We get to see Logan slicing people into pieces with his claws, characters get decapitated, and blood splatters freely across the ground. I have heard that the success of Deadpool with its R-rating was the reason Logan got a more adult rating but apparently Jackman took a pay cut to ensure that his final outing got an R-rating. This film isn’t just an excuse to suddenly bloody everything up for the sake of it because Logan is quite a brutal character that has been a living weapon during his life. He struggles with his rage, his pain and his loyalty for people he cares about. We also see in this film the burden of always outliving the ones that you love, Logan has seen the people he cares most deeply about die around him when he can do nothing to save them.

 

One of the highlights of this film is Patrick Stewart. Similarly to Logan he is now free to swear and comes across as a crotchety old man, bitter with the world but is also struggling with the brain disease that he is now being affected by. By the way, if you get a chance watch Blunt Talk because that show sees Stewart as a drug taking, booze drinking, foul mouthed talk show host that is so much fun to see. Here he has a great chemistry with Jackman, and there are scenes in which the two are clearly having a ball bouncing off one another. There are some genuinely funny moments which reminded me more of a senile father and his weary son looking after him, however there are also touching moments in which we can see how deeply Logan and Charles care for one another. Both men have lost everything that they have spent so much time fighting to protect and both know that nothing will ever be the same as it was. Charles recognises the importance of Laura whilst Logan is naturally reluctant to allow anyone to get close to him because those he loves always die leaving him to carry on living.

 

Logan is a story about characters and the struggles that they have in a world in which the majority of their kind have died. Laura is an innocent in this new world and it is up to Charles Xavier and Logan to protect her from the people that want her dead.

 

As a villain Pierce is quite charismatic and hides his obvious sociopathic tendencies by being more soft spoken but he is utterly ruthless. He is prepared to kill or torture anyone to complete his mission. The thing is that during the film there are loads of chances to just kill Pierce. Logan knocks him out and instructs Caliban to drive him out into the desert and dump him, which leads to Caliban getting captured. Why did they not just kill him?? Plus Logan makes no attempt to rescue Caliban after he is captured, possibly because Pierce indicates he is dead, but if Logan had just killed him then Caliban wouldn’t have been captured. This happens more than once and more than once I found myself thinking “Just kill him already!!” but they don’t and Pierce continues being a thorn in the trios side for the entire film. Brit Richard E Grant also appears as the stereo-typical mad scientist type who wants to harness mutants and turn them into weapons…yeah real original guy…but he is only in the film at the end and lacks anything that makes him diabolical or especially interesting.

 

Right I should now drop this here…

 

(...Spoiler Ahead...)

 

Okay, so what happened to the other mutants is initially only implied and it seemed that Professor X may have been responsible for the deaths of mutants. His seizures cause huge pain to mutants around him, with prolonged effect being fatal and only Logan seems capable of resisting the effects of them. In a later scene Charles talks about the first decent night sleep he has had in years and that he doesn’t deserve to sleep soundly after what he has done. This suggested to me that perhaps he had one of these seizures and accidently killed every mutant in the world. We saw in X-Men 2 that using Cerebro he was able to see every mutant on the planet so my thinking was that perhaps he had a seizure when linked to Cerebro  and accidently killed all the world’s mutants. Personally I thought this would be an incredibly ballsy thing to do, to make the man who has been a mentor to so many mutants during his life the ultimate instrument of their destruction…but…this is not the case. Richard E Grant’s character was the one who hunted down and killed all the other mutants. So the Golden Age that we glimpsed at the end of Future Past in which mutants were accepted into society didn’t last as some mad scientist was able to hunt them down and kill them all, and not a single mutant or person in authority stopped him…what…the…fuck?????

 

I hate it when I have an idea that seems to be better than the one the filmmakers ran with and that is exactly what I think happened here. Charles Xavier lost control of his formidable powers and accidently killed all mutants, that would explain why Logan is trying to convince anyone he comes into contact with that Charles is dead because surely Xavier would also be a wanted fugitive for mass murder.

 

In this film mutants are being bred to be used as weapons and Laura is a female clone of Logan as his DNA (seen at the end of X-Men Apocalypse) was used to create her…yawn…this is not an original idea but Xavier killing every member of his own kind by accident, that would have been interesting.

 

The majority of the film sees Logan badly injured as his wounds don’t full heal, he is covered with scars and his adamantium claws don’t always fully emerge from his hand as if the mechanics within his own body are also starting to fail. There is a drug that can be used to enhance his healing powers and in the finale of the film he uses the drug to restore his powers but too much is fatal. I assumed that in the final scene of the film we would see Logan in all his former glory kicking serious ass before the drugs wore off and finally claimed his life. Unfortunately the effects of the drug quickly wear off so the final battle is Logan back as his old and creaky self rather than the drugged up badass that he could have been. This might have been a good thing though because using the drugs to make himself stronger to face his final opponent was starting to remind me of the end of Universal Soldier so I can understand why the miracle drug didn’t just restore him to full strength for the entirety of the final battle.

 

You have probably surmised by from the trailers, Jackman saying this is the last time he will portray Wolverine and everything that I have been talking about that Logan dies at the end of this film. Now when a character dies that have to have a death worthy of them and in this case Logan’s final battle is between himself and a clone of himself called the X-24. The fight is bloody, brutal and is seamless and two Hugh Jackman’s battle one another and I honestly cannot tell where the joins in the scene are. But what makes the scene particularly cool is the fact that Logan is overpowered by the X-24 and Laura leaps into the fray to protect her “father” and the two of them face off against the monster that Logan once was. It is a worthy death for the character and is not an ending in which you feel cheated because someone that has fought their whole life goes out like a chump like David Tennant’s Doctor did when he is killed by radiation poisoning.

 

Logan is a far more adult, character driven entry to the X-Men films and as there is no post-credits scene it is more than likely the end of the franchise. The films have had their ups and downs over the years and whilst I think the films should have finished after Days of Future Past this is not a bad way to end the series. Expect a brutal film not just in terms of violence but in terms of what happens to the characters that we have been watching on screen for 17 years. Logan gets a Thumbs Up because whilst it did have its flaws it was a great film and is the Wolverine film that fans have been wanting since the beginning of the X-Men franchise.

 

 

8/10 – This is the Wolverine film that fans have always wanted. Hugh Jackman carries the battle hardened and weary Logan perfectly one final time and Patrick Stewart adds both comedy and tragedy to the last time that we are going to step into the X-Men Cinematic Universe.

 

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© Chris Sharman