Movie Review: Logan

An aging Wolverine is at the heart of a surprisingly introspective action film

Logan
Directed by James Mangold
With Hugh Jackman, Patrick Stewart, Richard E. Grant, Boyd Holbrook, Stephen Merchant, Dafne Keen

Fans of the X-Men series likely know that Hugh Jackman and Patrick Stewart have announced that Logan, the latest entry, is their swan song as Wolverine and Professor X. It is a good choice for a film to go out on, filled with melancholy and introspection in between the requisite action scenes.

By now, the series has fragmented with episodes taking place in different time lines. Logan occurs in 2029, after events in the X-Men: Days of Future Past. The mutants have been outlawed, and most have been hunted down. Logan / Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) is older and losing his healing power. He walks with a limp and drives a limousine to make money.

Charles Xavier / Professor X (Patrick Stewart) is in his 90s, and suffering from memory loss and seizures that due to his telepathic powers cause catastrophes in the surrounding areas. Another remaining mutant is Caliban (Stephen Merchant), who appeared in X-Men: Apocalypse played by a younger actor. Logan and Caliban try to take care of Xavier in an abandoned industrial site in Mexico.

The plot gets going when several people track down Logan. One is a woman, Gabriela (Elizabeth Rodriguez) and a young girl, Laura (Dafne Keen) who want his help, the others are heavily armed private security looking for the young girl. Who the girl is isn't exactly clear at first.

This forces Logan and Xavier to flee from hiding and to try to blend in with ordinary people, seeing the sort of life that they missed a mutants. A particularly touching but simple scene has them watching an old Western, Shane, on a hotel TV. The good guy comments about how there is no going back to a normal life after being a killer, whichever side you were on.

Among the bad guys in the film is Dr. Zander Rice (Richard E. Grant), the son of a character that Logan killed in X-Men: Apocalypse. He has been continuing experiments with mutations, and is also hunting for the surviving “wild” mutants.

Grant is a prolific actor and has been in the Dr. Who, Downton Abbey and the Game of Thrones series, as well as a range of films from Bram Stoker's Dracula to the recent biopic Jackie. He helps to keep the film from tipping too far over into senseless action by giving a credible face to the villains.

Working with Dr. Rice is Donald Pierce (Boyd Holbrook) as head of security. The actor is a former male model, and he has been in films such as Gone Girl. He gives a chilling performance as his good looks contrast with his dark relentlessness in tracking Logan and the remaining mutants.

An odd interlude in the film has Logan and Xavier hiding out on a farm. The farmer is one of the few who hasn't sold out to a large corporation growing genetically modified corn. He gives and anti-GMO speech and also criticizes the rough behavior of the corporation in trying to force him off of his land. It is reflection of the ideas in the plot about mutants and the strong-arm company chasing after Logan.

Dafne Keen as the young Laura has a large role for her screen debut, although she had been on a UK-Spanish TV series called The Refugees. She is mute for much of the film, but still has a significant presence through her angry expressions and defiant pouting nature. She is not just a cute kid thrown into the plot to generate a warm fuzzy glow.

The film Logan is a good one for Hugh Jackman and Patrick Stewart to leave the series on. They have a number of touching scenes and some good dialogue that gets to the hearts of their characters. There are also scenes that make them confront their true natures both as mutants and human beings. Sure, the film has multiple large-scale action scenes, but unlike some of the other entries in the X-Men series the film also has an emotional side that comic book films often miss out on.

There will be other X-Men films, but just not with these two actors. There is still the plot line with a younger actor playing Professor X in the past, and the end of Logan leaves open the possibility for more films set in the future.

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