Logan (dir. James Mangold, 2017) – The arrival of a young mutant sends an ailing Wolverine and Professor X on the run.
A near-perfect swan song for an aged hero, a brilliant origins story for a rising heroine.
The stars are aligned as we bid adieu to the Wolverine. It has been a long time coming, and no better timing for his last run. With the evocative nature of farewells almost a given, director James Mangold has his work cut out for him. The recent resurgence of the western genre also comes in good time, falling right in place with his dusty town vision.
Then, there is that minor success with Deadpool, boosting the studio’s confidence in bloodier, adult-oriented comic book movies. Just as the superhero genre flatlines on novelty, Logan knows to grab the opportunity to break out of the tired formula. So all bets are on, and all for the better. At long last, the Man with the Adamantium Fists gets the grittier treatment he deserves.
No holds barred, Logan is handed the license to go berserk. But even if the carnage takes a walk on the wild side, James Mangold roots his story in relative realism, recalling the better half of his previous efforts in The Wolverine. Profanities never distract from his razor-sharp focus on one purpose: to hand down a fading torch that still shines a light on the face of its bearer.
That is even if his glory days are far behind him. Logan (Hugh Jackman) these days is a different beast, holding back his claws and down a job as a limo driver. Somewhere along the Mexican border, he cares for Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart), whose debilitating mind threatens mass destruction. With Caliban (Stephen Merchant) the only mutant on his side, things are looking bleak. Then, the appearance of the first young mutant in years changes everything.
As mini powder keg Laura Kinney, 12-year-old Dafne Keen drives the layered story like a seasoned veteran. And in many ways, her spirited introduction is a fitting companion to Logan’s final outing. Not only is her gift a chip off the old Weapon X. Her feral instincts parallel the same hint of vulnerability underneath her impulsive rage, as well as hidden guilt over the heavy costs of her survival.
Logan shares her struggle – in not letting their dark violent pasts define them, forming an unexpected bond with his perfect legacy. Their familial relationship, along with Charles, is the heart and strength of this pensive tenth chapter, offering emotional depth that has hitherto been lacking in the franchise. Needless to say, Hugh Jackman and Patrick Stewart play their aged, weary heroes to perfection.
While emotions run high, the ruthless hunting ways of Donald Pierce (Boyd Holbrook) and his cyborg Reapers ensure plenty of action-driven bloodshed on the side. Led by an underused Dr. Zander Rice (Richard E. Grant), the worthy opponents belong to a corporation that sees gifted children as property, an antithesis to the X-Men’s mission in erasing the line between man and mutant.
The ensuing conflict is one of blood, guts, and tears guaranteed. It is a strong concoction that is unlikely to be a trend in face of merch sale quotas. But for now, this worthy tribute to Old Man Logan has shown us what a comic adaptation free of commercial pressure can deliver. And ’tis better to have had and loved, than never to have had at all.