Hugh Jackman has donned the adamantium claws and white tank/jeans combo of everyone’s favorite metal-laden mass murdering mutant for what he promises, and what seems pretty definite, the final time. There honestly couldn’t be a more perfect way to see Logan on his way than the film “The Wolverine” director James Mangold has put together with “Logan.”
Cards on the table: there was never a chance that I would hate this movie, or even really dislike it. This is about the most biased my reviewing can possibly get. I started reading comics when I was six years old, and one of the series that drew me in was Wolverine. In the early aughts, his genetic clone, X-23 or Laura Kinney was introduced through the animated series “X-Men: Evolution.” In an extremely rare transition, the only other truly successful one being Harley Quinn, Laura made her way from a kid’s television show to guest-starring in a real comic, to carrying her own mini and then solo series. She’s currently serving as the uniformed, public Wolverine following the comic book death of the normal one. Those cards I mentioned are that Laura is my favorite comic book character of them all. And she’s the entire reason for Logan and the journey undertaken therein.
In 2029, mutants have all but disappeared. Wolverine is driving a limo and going by his real name, James Howlett, denouncing his own past when it’s brought up. His once-indestructible self is succumbing slowly to poison from his own bones, his healing factor having always been taxed by fighting off the toxicity coating his skeleton, a healing factor that is severely waning in his old age. Aside from Logan, the mutant Caliban, last seen selling mutant locations to the highest bidder in Apocalypse, is helping Logan take care of an ailing, senile Charles Xavier. The most powerful mind on the planet, capable of killing with a thought, is deteriorating rapidly and all Logan is able to do is keep him drugged, try to prevent “incidents” like the one that’s subtly hinted at having taken place at the school in Westchester years prior.
But Charles isn’t nearly as senile or incapable as Logan seems to think, as he has been in constant psychic contact with a little girl named Laura. This little girl has a connection to Wolverine, both genetically and emotionally. They are both victims, though I would argue that Laura being raised in a lab and regularly tortured to induce her mutation early, she got the worse end of that stick, being that she’s a 12-year-old literal killing machine.
At its best moments, Logan evokes the films of Akira Kurosawa or Sergio Leone, both famous for their influence and takes on the Western genre. Logan isn’t a superhero movie. There’s no giant threat to the world to take care of, no towering robots hunting mutants, no out of control allies that have to be stopped. There is only a lonely old man and a crazy old man trying to help a little girl not be subjected to the life that Logan lived. There’s no happy ending to be had, there’s no light at the end of the tunnel for our hero. James Howlett is too damn old and has fought in too many wars to see any sort of light. That is, until Laura Kinney.
Wolverine is pretty famous for his father/adopted daughter relationships. In the comics, he served as a mentor of sorts to Jubilee and Shadowcat (Kitty Pryde) before Laura came on the scene, and in the old X-Men movies, Rogue was effectively put into that position. He’s a violent, animalistic person, but he’s also got a protective streak in him like no other. Laura might not be quite as in need of a permanent protector or mentor, but she needs the Wolverine, at least for a little while. At least to get to the promise of mutant sanctuary in Canada.
As I mentioned, Logan is barely a superhero movie. It’s a character study, a tragedy, a brutal and bleak look at the last adventure of one of the most beloved mutants in the X-Men, and serves as an origin story for X23, who currently holds the mantle in the comics and who absolutely deserves a series of movies modeled after the New X-Men comics.
In a single word, Logan was perfection. It was everything I wanted it to be and so, so much more.
Logan is now playing in theaters nationwide.