To say that the X-Men films has been heavily reliant on the Wolverine and Hugh Jackman would be the understatement of the decade. The acting prowess displayed by the actor for nine entries and seventeen years in the series has molded the audience’s perception of the claw-bearing mutant for so long now that a legion of movie goers will find it hard to separate the actor and the character he has portrayed for so long. Although the movie garnering big dollars so far at the box office ($250 million worldwide and counting) shows that even after so many appearances there is still a vast audience clamoring to see the “Adamantium Warrior” once again. Jackman himself repeatedly in interviews has said that Logan (Marvel Entertainment, 20th Century Fox rated R. Running time: 2 hours, 17 minutes) will be his last go around so if this truly is the case was it a cinematic trip worth taking?
“Old Man Logan Indeed”
Set in the year 2029 in a period where mutants a fast becoming a dying breed with no mutant births in over twenty five years. Logan himself has become a shell of what he once was, an aged relic from a different time whose days are numbered because his body is being poisoned by the very metal (Adamantium) that has saved his life (and many others) on numerous occasions. The extended years of damage and mileage have finally begun to take its toll as his ability to self-heal has all but vanished leaving Logan still bitter and angry at the world but now as a man seemingly headed toward a bitter end. Even his days working as a limousine driver only serve to buy him alcohol (which he guzzles freely) and illegally obtained medication for his old friend the once professor Charles Xavier played again by Patrick Stewart who has also noted that this would be his final bow with the character.
It is in this movie that we witness the evolution of the bond of Professor X and the Wolverine coming to a bittersweet conclusion. Charles, like Logan is nearing the end of days as the nonagenarian (90’s) with what was once “the most powerful mind” now battles Dementia that without the needed medicine produces seizures that generates harmful physical effects to those in the surrounding area. Assisted by the albino mutant, Caliban they try to make due with whatever time left they have while hiding out near the Mexican border while dreaming of a day they can buy a ship and sail away in peace. The movie sets itself up to be a sort of “Grumpy Old X-Men” than anything we have come to know from the film franchise until a young girl named Laura throws chaos into all of their lives.
At the pleading of a nurse who was familiar with the Wolverine and a promise of a big payoff, Logan is commissioned to take Laura (Dafne Keen) on a journey to North Dakota to find the sanctuary named “Eden” where she can rejoin with her friends. What he soon realizes why he was asked is this young girl has a secret “gift” that he knows better than anyone. Equipped with the same Adamantium claws on her hands (and added to her feet) and an angry attitude only the Wolverine can match, he learns quickly that this young girl has become a wanted girl by those willing to do her harm.
Also known as X-23, Laura was created in the labs of the evil corporation Transigen who are making every attempt to retrieve her after she valiantly escaped with her compatriots who also possess various mutant powers. The corporation for years have taken mutant technology back into the laboratory and created the children and something that could be even more destructive. Led by the sniveling Chief of Security Donald Pierce (Boyd Holbrook) and Dr. Zander Rice (Richard E. Grant), Transigen makes every effort (and many hired guns) to thwart the journey ahead that puts Laura, Logan and Xavier on the run and audiences ready to witness some violence only pair of “Wolverines” can dish out.
“Saving the best for last”
We have seen Jackman’s Wolverine in various stages of bitterness, regret, remorse and anger over the years but the movie itself is anchored by his best ever turn as the clawed old mutant. His experience in the role seemingly has served him well in Logan and instead of leaving the role on fumes Jackman has provided more spark for the character than ever. His body continues to break down in the film before our very eyes, but Logan still manages to labor through one violent fight scene after another with a reckless abandon that only he can provide. But its those moments of clarity from the vantage point of Logan and Xavier that we really see Director James Mangold’s vision on what the best of the X-Men franchise has been and where the series may be headed to from here.
Indeed there are some general X-men movie tropes the film ultimately falls into and the set ups for some of the action scenes could have been handled better but that doesn’t detract from the film being an overall treat for X-men and comic book fans alike. While this is an ultra-violent “clawfest” that definitely deserves its “R” rating that should not be a deterrent for those looking to seek one possible story line of closure on two of the most beloved heroes in the Marvel universe. It’s safe to say if Logan will be the last adventure for Jackman and Stewart they both picked a very good film to say their good-byes.