Logan movie cast: Hugh Jackman, Patrick Stewart, Boyd Holbrook, Stephen Merchant, Dafne Keen
Logan movie director: James Mangold
Long movie rating: 3.5 stars
It has pathos, it has grief, it has companionship, it has relationships, it has youth, it has age, it has anger, it has love, and yes it has action.
Logan happens to be the 10th film in the X-Men series — making it the seventh-highest-grossing film franchise of all time. Hugh Jackman has played Wolverine in nine of those films, including Logan. Neither of that is a reason to skip this one. On the contrary, there are lessons here in how to wrap up a film journey, as Jackman has announced Logan is — the end of his time in the X-men universe.
The fantastic Australian actor presents Wolverine here as a rasping, breathless, tired version of himself, dying physically as well as mentally as mutants such as him are forced into desert hideouts by a world that is targeting them. When the film wants us to have a glimpse of the Wolverine of the past, it finds a clever way to do that too.
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Apart from Logan, there are two others of the old mutants here. Logan is working as a driver to earn enough money to afford medicines to keep the other two, who can’t leave their hideout, going. Those two are Caliban (Merchant), an Albino who can trace people, and Charles Xavier (Stewart), who of course controls minds. Charles is kept hidden in an overturned, hollow water tank — a brutal setting suggestive of the cruel end to which the mutants have been pushed.
But then into the decaying world of Logan, Charles and Caliban, comes crashing in Laura. She is a new mutant, when Logan thought none more would be allowed or were possible. Plus, the child bears powers just like him, of claws embedded in her knuckles and also her feet. Could she be who we all think she is?
It is a bonus that we can rarely expect in a superhero film, but writer-director Mangold, returning to the franchise, lends Logan strength not just from the superpowers on display but from the people wielding them. Each one of the actors in the film, starting from the terrific newcomer Keen and going up to Stewart, with a measured performance not one step out of place, leaves his or her mark. That includes Merchant, despite the heavy make-up, and even Holbrook, the military-type guy giving the chase.
Most of the film has Logan, Charles and Laura on the road, trying to escape capture as they make their way to the Canada border. They have conversations about life, as Charles emphasises to Logan he could have a go at it still. Laura, born and raised in a lab run by the same company that created the X-men, traipses through her first supermarket, watches her first Western, hears music from her first earphones, and has her first glimpse of what could be home.
The film is overwrought at times, overextends its stay as it makes its way towards an obvious sequel, and there is some gratuitous violence, particularly towards bystanders. However, at a time when the world is intent on marginalising ‘The Other’, Logan spells out unflinchingly the consequences of branding people “right” and “wrong”. “Brands that stick” — as the film tells us.
Across the border in Canada, the mutants hope to find “Eden”. A coincidence?