Logan is a fitting end to the old Western ideal as it bids adieu to the high plains drifter, the solitary cowboy Image: Twitter
Starring: Hugh Jackman, Patrick Stewart, Dafne Keen, Stephen Merchant, Boyd Holbrok
Sreenplay: James Mangold, Scott Frank, Michael Green
Directed by: James Mangold
Produced by: 20th Century Fox
You will like this if you liked: The Dark Knight trilogy
I would pay: 500/500
James Mangold’s Logan is a fitting end to the old western ideal as it bids adieu to the high plains drifter, the solitary cowboy, putting up one last fight before walking away into the sunset. It also marks the end of a world-weary warrior, a Samurai who, though disillusioned with life and living, is bound by honour and deed. Wolverine, after all, is the almost near-perfect juxtaposition of these two tropes and our hero with adamantium claws battles the demons both within and without in his one glorious last stand.
Deep in the Darkness
The movie opens in a dark, dreary, post-Apocalyptic world — almost Mad Max like in its deep-set, dystopian gloom. Set in 2029, Logan (Hugh Jackman), is no longer the wolf-like warrior Wolverine, who with his shining claws, ripped out his adversaries with as much ease as carelessly puffing on a cigar. The world-weariness, already seen in his previous outings, has set in deeply, eating away into his consciousness as ceaselessly as the adamantium poisoning his blood. The claws, when unsheathed (though rarely), cause him arthritic pain. The scars are more evident than ever, and he doesn't heal as easily as he once used to. This is not a typical, shiny superhero movie where you marvel (pun very much intended) at your hero’s superpowers while gaping at CGI triumphs. It’s the X-Men universe’s Dark Knight, darker if you will, and is probably one of the best superhero movies in a long time now.
Our hero is now seen undertaking less-than-heroic activities, working incognito as a limo driver near the Tex-Mex border, where he lives in a wrecked water tower. The X-Men are no more, mutants are almost extinct, and when he is not ferrying prom night kids and bachelorette partygoers across town, Logan aka Wolverine spends his time protecting Professor X (Patrick Stewart), with the assistance of an ever-watchful Caliban (played to perfection by Stephen Merchant).
The movie, though named after its title character, doesn’t only focus on him and his story. We see Professor X, once the most powerful mind in the universe, as a wheelchair-bound invalid, who is subject to brain seizures that paralyse everyone around him. Stewart shines as the rasping, howling nonagenarian, reminiscent of the mentally unhinged monarch in Shakespeare’s King Lear. Coincidentally (or not), P-Stew played wealthy cattle baron John Lear, an analog to King Lear in the American television film King of Texas.
But this movie isn’t all about these two men and the Sunset Boulevard setting of their lives. In this world of dreary darkness, shows up Laura, a young mutant with remarkably similar traits to Logan, dumped into his life by a Mexican nurse from a local clinic. 11-year-old Dafne Keen plays the role with consummate ease, deftly mastering both difficult physical stunts and emotional turmoil, while given few actual lines to work with. Comic book nerds may find it a relief to finally see some similarities between the storylines on and off-screen, as in the comics too, we have been introduced to X-23, a kind of female clone of our adamantium-lined hero.
When Little Miss Sunshine meets Wolverine
For better or worse, Logan, Professor X and Laura are a family — on the run from mutant-hunting baddies played by the ominous Donald Pierce (Boyd Holbrook) and his employer, chilling technocrat Zander Rice (Richard E Grant). The three embark on a road trip, trying to protect Laura from the predatory baddies, Logan with his world-weary cynicism and Professor X, with his endless optimism and hope for the world.
Movie buffs might find some parallels with the 2006 movie Little Miss Sunshine, a film about a dysfunctional family that travels across the country when their daughter wants to travel in a beauty pageant. What’s different is the fact that the Little Miss here has no time to bask in the sunshine of familial protection as she is busy tearing out bodies like rag dolls and throwing glass shards out of her mouth as nonchalantly as spitting out watermelon seeds. The director, in fact, in an interview to Empire Magazine had said that he wanted to make Little Miss Sunshine with Logan, Charles Xavier, and X-23. Mangold said that he wanted to “trap these three superheroes in a van driving on a highway in the year 2029 and see what happens.”
Not a Typical Shiny Marvel Saga
What happens is something starkly different from the recent crop of superhero flicks. Logan, unlike them, isn’t an ode to CGI. Reminiscent of Western classics, the story often feels like an amalgamation of many other films from the genre, and Mangold pays a tribute to the same when the Professor X and Laura watch an extended scene from Shane on television. It’s like The Road Warrior meets Shane meets Terminator 2: Judgment Day (yes, there IS a bad Wolverine). However, these references do not take away anything, rather they add to the punch that Logan delivers in every minute of its 135-minutes runtime.
Logan, in fact, takes a not-so-subtle dig at the very source material it draws from, with the jaded superhero saying, "Comic books aren't real”, terming them as “ice cream for bedwetters”. The stories of these supeheroes infuriate Logan, who says that the world’s bad stuff can’t be tackled by an “asshole in a leotard”. Too harsh and close to the truth, right? But then, Logan doesn’t mean to comfort you with a sense of false security; it is meant to shock you with its darkness, numb your senses with an overdose of gore and then offer you a glimmer of redemption in its last few minutes of a battle that is both lost and won.
Logan: His Time is Always
The tagline of the movie reads “Logan: His Time Has Come”, also serving as a chilling reminder of the fact that we see Jackman play the adamantium-lined hero Wolverine for one last time. It’s an end of an era, an era spanning 17 years and Jackman’s ninth appearance in the X-Men film universe. And, not only is this Jackman’s final outing as Wolverine, it is also without doubt his best run as the superhero.
He holds the movie together, playing the disillusioned superhero drawn reluctantly into the world he had left behind so long ago. It’s been almost 18 years that Jackman has played this role, but not for a moment do you notice any fatigue of familiarity. Rather, he seems to have become better with time, unleashing a powerhouse of animal rage in the tale of darkness and despair that Logan is.
Logan is a magnificent swan song for Jackman's Wolverine and it also provides redemption for all those archetypal CGI marvels that we have been subjected to in recent years. Logan proves once and for all that its hero’s time has not come; rather he is here to stay in the hearts of movie lovers for years, that his time is always.