“Logan” is about getting old and feeling your own mortality, even if you’re a superhero. Hugh actually plays a dual role in “Logan”, the older and the younger versions of Wolverine, and it’s really exciting to watch him fiercely fighting with himself. But it’s not only him who figures in plenty of slambang action sequences, also a little girl named Dafne Keen as Laura, who may or may not be his child but looks like a female version of himself as a mutant with deadly adamantium claws.
Set in 2029, Logan has retired as Wolverine and has lost almost all of his mutant colleagues. He is now a lonely and alcoholic limousine driver iin his twilight years who goes by his real name, James Howlett. There seems to be no more X-Men since no new mutants have been born. But he is keeping a secret as he’s hiding Prof. Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart) in a secret location near the Mexican border, along with the albino mutant Caliban who avoids being exposed to the sun. Charles is sick and is no longer able to fully control the telepathic powers of his brain when he has seizures, so he’s classified as a weapon of mass destruction.
A Hispanic woman asks his help to transport her and a mute young girl who may or may not be his daughter, Laura (Dafne Keen), to South Dakota near the Canadian border, but he refuses. The woman is soon killed and Laura joins him and Charles in their hideout. Soon, sinister forces are raiding them and they all have to fight back and escape.
That’s all we’d like to share because anything else might spoil your viewing pleasure. Suffice it to say that “Logan” is not just your usual superhero movie but comes out also as a character study of someone with a death wish and wrestling with his own sense of mortality. This is very evident in its tribute to the Alan Ladd classic, “Shane”, about the cowboy hero riding into the sunset, with child actor Brandon de Wilde shouting: “Shane, come back!” (A scene so vividly etched in our memory from childhood.)
James Mangold (who did “The Wolverine”) directs “Logan”, based on his own story and he co-wrote the full script with two other writers. Looks like it’s his way of deconstructing modern popcorn superhero films. He wisely makes reference to the old X-Men by making Laura a big fan of their comic books, which Logan dismisses as something not true. The film runs for 2 hours and a half, and there are parts that you feel can be trimmed to quicken the pacing.
After a slow burn (opening scene shows a drunken Logan in a brawl with thugs who want to steal his tires), Wolverine unleashes all his rage and fury in scene after scene, along with Dafne Keen as Laura also going on rampage. If the other X-men flicks were PG, this one has an R-16 rating because of the high body count, hard-hittin carnage scenes and lines full of cuss words and expletives.
It is properly balanced by serious moments of touching drama and quieter human interactions between the major characters. We’ve always believed in Hugh Jackman as an actor. We love his Jean Valjean and we think he’d make a better James Bond than Daniel Craig, if he’d agree to be 007.
Here, he gets to flex not only his fighting muscles as the old and younger Wolverine, but also displays his impressive acting chops in portraying the weariness that the grizzled Logan is experiencing deep within him, physically, emotionally, and even spiritually. You can really feel he considers himself trapped in his Wolverine persona in which, somehow, all superheroes are doomed. He was there when Bryan Singer started the X-Men movies in 2000, along with Patrick Stewart as Prof. X, and it spawned a successful series of Marvel superhero flicks, challenging the erstwhile supremacy of DC Comics.
Early on, you get the feeling that death for Logan and his companions are inevitable, what with the healing of his wounds getting to be more and more slow. But wait, there’s a new generation of mutants which will perpetuate the X-Men series, Laura and all her young colleagues. So “X-Men” fans might just see them growing up to come up with new sequels.
Dafne Keen also gives a memorable performance (you really get to care for her as Laura, who can be so incredibly ferocious) and supporting her and Hugh effectively are Patrick Stewart as Prof. X, Stephen Merchant as Caliban, and Boyd Holbrook and Richard E. Grant as the villains who relentlessly pursue Logan and Laura.