Country: USA, Canada, Australian
Language: English, Spanish
Genre: Action, Drama, Sci-Fi
Director: James Mangold
Music: Marco Beltrami
Cinematography: John Mathieson
Richard E. Grant
Eriq La Salle
This gore-permeated, pathos-riddled final chapter of Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine trilogy startles its audience with not one, but two curtain calls of iconic characters in the X-Men franchise, and director James Mangold (whose previous Wolverine vehicle is a styled but ultimately self-defeating oddity) ensures that his R-rated version will do something very different from other CGI-heavy products of Marvel cinema, where emotion vacuum has been repeatedly desensitized in favor of visual bombardment.
The scale is relatively small (no metropolitan city is threatened by impending danger), set in 2029 where mutants have been almost extinct (the reasons beyond that are both a woe of Professor X and a progressive measure from dietary intake), a world-weary Logan (Jackman), now moonlights as a limo chauffeur, traveling to-and-fro between USA and Mexico, to take care of a delirious Professor X, aka. Charles Xavier (Stewart), a mumbling nonagenarian and episodically inflicted by seizure and is unable to keep a tight rein on his psionic superpower, can only be tamed by medication, meanwhile the albino mutant Caliban (Merchant, a bug-eyed phantom actually has a golden heart) is Logan’s sole help.
All Logan wants is to save enough money and buy a boat so that they can live in the sea while the rest of the world stays out of harm’s way, because the blast induced from Charles’ seizure has already caused disastrous collateral damage to those in the vicinity, but the advent of a Mexican nurse Gabriela (Rodriguez) and her so-called teenager daughter Laura (a commendable debutante Keen) will eventually sabotage his plan. It turns out, Laura is very much like Logan, she is a man-made mutant using Logan’s own DNA by Doctor Rice (E. Grant), who takes a vocation to capitalize on mutation to manufacture killing machines, Laura is one of his experiments, but now, along with other mutant children, they are failed guinea pigs needs to be disposed of, since Rice has something much more advanced created. So, reluctantly, Logan embarks on his final adventure to escort Laura (along with Charles) to the meeting place, then with other escapees, to cross the border into Canada, where Eden, a mutant paradise purportedly exists (the metaphor of breaking away from USA today is right on the nose), at the meantime, they are hunted by the Reavers, led by Donald Pierce (Holbrook, manage to pull off a cliched role with verve and bemusing ambiguity), a huge fan of Wolverine’s legend but also ruthlessly committed to his mission, but he is not the biggest problem for the fleeing trio.
Incredibly, Mangold thrusts a brilliant human touch into the story arc, not the least is the moving Western nostalgia eliciting from George Steven’s SHANE (1953) and that soul-stirring denouement when Logan is again, regretfully, embroils an innocent family into his war; yet keeps the action sequences snappy, utilitarian but uncompromisingly lethal, that introduction set piece of Laura’s destructive nature and combatting prowess is such a godsend. Hugh Jackman will be forever beloved for this role, which he has been playing for 17 years, and here he is even more manifestly touching in ramming home Logan’s cursed kismet with unrelenting taedium vitae, which is countervailed by Keen’s perfect embodiment of innocence and dispassionateness, slowly eroded when a father-daughter bond starts to burgeon, effectively reaches its crescendo in the coda where a sort of patricide passes on the baton to the offspring. Patrick Stewart, meantime, is equally poignant appearing for the last time as the aging Professor X, his valediction is every bit as potent as Logan’s.
Also worth mentioning that there is also a noir-version of the film, which is entirely in Black-and-White and makes great play of the story’s tragic/heroic tone, when all is said and done, LOGAN is another triumph of comic material’s R-rated transmutation (after DEADPOOL of course) on the big screen, but in its core, it is an ardently past-honoring action-er doesn’t shirk from the grim fate but also sows its seeds of hope with great dexterity, to a point that we won’t even begrudge to bid farewell to our favorite screen heroes, distinguished by their superpower but permanently scourged by its distasteful and galling corollaries.