Friday, August 4, 2017

Movie Review: Logan (2017)

Logan (2017) co-written and directed by James Mangold

In the year 2029, the hero formerly known as Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) works as a chauffeur named James Howlett (though everyone calls him Logan) near the Texas/Mexico border. He tries to keep a low profile and build up some money for his retirement plan--buy a boat and sail the oceans with Charles Xavier, i.e. Professor X (Patrick Stewart). Charles has been staying south of the border in an abandoned industrial plant. The location is ideal since his occasional mental seizures have not caused the psychic devastation they did several years before in Westchester (a mysterious event that is never fully explained). Logan brings supplies and helps care for the old man. When Logan isn't there, another surviving mutant, the albino Caliban (Stephen Merchant) takes care of Charles. Mutants have pretty much died out by this point and they seem like the last to go.

Until a woman approaches Logan and asks him to take her daughter, Laura, to the Canadian border. Laura turns out not to be her daughter but is part of an experiment to bring new mutants into the world as corporate products (mostly as weapons/soldiers). Logan knows the corporation is bad news and at first refuses. But Charles recognizes the girl as someone he's been in psychic contact with and he wants Logan to do the job. One thing leads to another and the three (Logan, Charles, and Laura) begin a road trip north.

While the story does have superheroic elements, it's more about Logan dealing with old age, mortality, and a loss of purpose. His struggle is realistic and affecting, even when he descends into hard-core violence to get things done. His relationship with Xavier has the odd-couple banter and frankness that shows their long-term friendship so well. They don't agree on everything and are perfectly willing to speak their minds. The actors are uniformly great and the action, while very violent (lots of heads roll literally as well as many craniums show adamantium claws sticking out), serves the story and the tone perfectly.

The great story and the great acting make for a wonderful film that is entertaining and satisfying. My only (and very minor) qualm is that the filmmakers seem to have given up on having continuity among the X-Men franchise films. This one doesn't seem like it fits in with the other stories, but as a stand-alone story, this is superb.

Highly recommended.

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