Most media outlets are sterile in their reporting. They lack the acceptable bias that goes along with being a fan. At Glued 2 the Screen, I am a fan first and render my thoughts accordingly. Moreover, any true fan of film or television will tell you that judgment through the eyes of nerd, to use the parlance of our time, can often be more informed and critical. That said let’s dive into the pure mastery that was Logan.
The way this film was marketed ought to be offered as a master’s class. Trailer after trailer brought fans just enough to be interested but not certain of the result. For lay people, the slow baritone of Johnny Cash’s ballad Hurt told them this character has demons and they may be getting the best of him. For those of us familiar with Logan aka Wolverine, we saw a glimpse at story arcs we thought never to see on the big screen. The “Old Man Logan” storyline, while a favorite to many, is too fantastical ever to be realistically portrayed on the big screen. Yet, the new X-Men featuring a young female wolverine left many doors open to our imagination. This is especially true with the appearance of the seemingly rabid youngster bearing two claws. Teased just enough and rated “R” it made great use of the now popular “Red Banned Trailer” delivery system. Charles Xavier brilliantly portrayed by Patrick Stewart issuing the F-word in the last released teaser was enough to fill a few seats by shock alone.
We fade in on a grizzled remnant of the once ferocious wolverine. The first fight of the film occurs within seconds of the opening and demonstrates the gravity of the situation. Audiences hear cursing, see blood, and feel shocked at the sight of their aging hero. He stumbles drunk out of a car and heads into an easily winnable matchup for a wolverine seen in any previous film. Shortly after trying to defuse the situation with words, in itself a shocker, the claws emerge. They arrive not so much with a “snikt” or a pop, but instead with a rusted slowness denoting years of being unused. We know now that they cannibalized several comic story arcs including Old Man Logan. Part of that story has him avoiding the use of his claws. This avoidance doesn’t last long.
We follow the now Uber driver James Howlett “Wolverine”, on a montage of degrading passengers and alcohol consumption. All followed by an ominous visit to a local area hospital ally to acquire a bag of off the books pills. By ten minutes in it is obvious there will be o team building or motivational speaking as was customary in the previous incarnations.
Logan joins DeadPool in the adult world of foul language and visceral imagery. While it wasn’t the first “R” comic book movie DeadPool’s success certainly paved the way for Marvel Studios to green light this operation. Wolverine has always been a character that is angry, adult, and less concerned with fitting in. As such this film captures the essence of what the core character is about. Hugh Jackman has always done a great job of transforming this part into everyone’s favorite X-Man. Yet we are not supposed to like Wolverine. We can understand him, we can relate at times, but his rage and nonconformist attitude is meant to set him apart. This is the Weapon X film we have been waiting for. Relatively low budget considering the source it appears like an indie film.
Previous attempts like the X-Men Origins fail or the X-Men 3 movie, which saw Logan as team leader, were a little too fluffy for the character. Wolverine is a man who was experimented on in a military facility by fanatic scientists and generals. He was then used as mercenary/ weapon for the ensuing years and wars until discarded by the very people whom created him.
This outing is set in the year 2029 placing Xavier at 90 and Wolverine at a ripe 143 (depending on the origin you subscribe to). When we get back to his desert home it is revealed the drugs are for the ailing Professor X. Brilliantly they gave Patrick Stewart the task of portraying an old man battling both ALS and Alzheimer’s. What happens when the world’s greatest mind starts to lose control? Logan has become reluctant caregiver to the professor whose bouts with seizures can and have killed. That explains away the remote location we find our hero in.
The off the grid lifestyle at first seems prisonlike for Charles Xavier is turned upside-down with the appearance of Laura a claw wielding youngster. Charles suffering early dementia jumps right back into teacher mode and offers help against the wishes of Logan. We end up on long journey dealing with father-son and yes father-daughter issues. Xavier has always been father figure to all the X-Men and took special interest in Wolverine. He expresses his disappointment in his inability to overcome his isolation and lack of trust and warmth for others. Logan is frustrated by Charles’ present state and bears the pain of being a caregiver. Moreover, unsurprisingly he wants to please and gain the professors approval while protecting him from himself.
Finally, yes, Logan is Laura aka X23’s father. This is explained by the scientists of the Weapon X program using his saved DNA to create and enhance a killing machine. Genetically connected to Laura Wolverine must learn how to be a father and protect his cub. They do this brilliantly by odd, as it may seem, slicing and dicing the enemy together. Like all wild animals that must hunt to survive the elder teaches the younger how to fight. Like the father teaches a son to deal with a bully Logan must incorporate his daughter into the survival process.
Hugh does finally say goodbye. For that matter so does professor Charles Xavier. A lab grown fully functioning weapon with the appearance of Wolverine stalks the groups and dispatches all but the young cub. Thinking he is talking to Logan Charles admits he remembers accidentally killing the X-Men with his failing mind and is stunned to be offed by a Wolvie lookalike. His frailness and genuine love for his traveling companions jerks the audience’s hearts. We don’t have the time to openly weep as we are back on the run.
In a beautiful twist of fait for comic fans who always ask who would win in a fight we get the answer. Wolverine is the only one who can beat Wolverine. The younger stronger Weapon X overpowers the aged hero. Logan is too old and too worn out loosing the ability to heal himself. The years of carrying that Adimantium on his skeleton has forced his healing powers to work nonstop since its first appearance. As it is unnatural for his body his powers have been constantly trying to heal it. Finally, he begins to scar like a human and limp from the weight of his own body. Old and tired he dies knowing he has been and is loved.
This film has it all. It by no means trades story for action or violence for plot. At times the feels almost catch you and at others the actions makes you leap forward and roar for your hero. After 17 years and 9 times at bat Hugh is hanging up the claws. We have spent a long time with this one character and this singularly talented actor. This world of reboots and remakes will have some trouble replacing this force of nature. He survived subpar films by acting above the writing and he took brilliant pieces and drove the character forward. It also helps that Jackman is a nice guy wit no scandals that seems to be thankful and happy to perform. Moreover, he actually has not aged in 17 years. Before Robert Downey Jr. became the centerpiece of the current Marvel Universe Hugh was the backbone of the X-Man world.
We will miss you Hugh Wolverine Jackman. The franchise will never be the same.
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