by Alejandro Turdó
Whoever caught a glimpse of the trailer for Logan (2017) during the last couple of weeks might have been able to read between the lines of the imagery converging with Johnny Cash’s rendition of “Hurt”. A clear indication was being made: this is the end… the bitter end.
Logan marks Hugh Jackman’s third stand-alone movie as Wolverine and the ninth incursion overall in the X-Men franchise. After seventeen years portraying the visceral mutant who lost loved ones, lived throughout several centuries and even travelled back in time, the Australian actor deserved a deep farewell, specially since X-Men Origins: Wolverine (2009) introduced us to a bland origin story -along with an upseting incarnation of Deadpool- and then The Wolverine (2013) bored us with a Japanese side story no one really cared about.
Director James Mangold gets it right this time, delivering a story rooted in Steve McNiven’s comic book “Old Mand Logan”, adding Western and road trip elements to the mix while echoing elegiac movies like Clint Eastwood’s Unforgiven (1992), Darren Aronofsky’s The Wrestler (2008) and George Stevens classic Shane (1953).
In the year 2029 Earth is a place where mutants have practically ceased to exist and a pseudo-fascist government seems to have taken over the United States. A clearly diminished Logan -both mentally and physically- tries to make ends meet driving a limousine and keeping a low profile, crossing the Mexican border daily to the rundown factory where he takes care of a crippled Professor Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart). He’s on the brink of mental senility, a problem that might draw unwanted attention from government agencies tracking down the remaining mutants.
Amid this devastating scenario, a young mutant girl named Laura (Dafne Keen) -the outcome of an experiment similar to the one that created Wolverine- seeks Logan’s help to get to Eden, an almost mythical safe haven across the Canadian border. So Xavier, Laura and Logan embark on a trip that might determine the future of their own kind.
Jackman’s performance as a run-down, over-the-hill hero is heartbreaking. Every close-up and every action sequence reflects the effort of an aging titan going out with a big bang – as grounded as any superhero might ever be on the big screen so far. Character depth at its finest, paying tribute to one of the most complex personalities in the Marvel Franchise. Meanwhile, Patrick Stewart’s portayal of a senile Xavier provides a whole new demension to the character.
With only a few hiccups, script-wise (how come a nurse is able to record classified experiments with her cell phone?), the story flows from one action sequence to another, filled with blood and guts like never before, pushing the R rating to the limit. The measured use of CGI is welcome, providing a bigger sense of gruesome reality.
The lonely antihero convinced to put up one more fight, the devastated surroundings, the feeling of emptiness, the quest for redemption. All these elements might as well fit in a John Wayne film, making Logan so much more than a regular ‘superheo movie’. Just like Walk The Line (2005), one of Mangold’s previous works that shined a light over Johnny Cash’s life and career, Logan constitutes this final chapter as a bittersweet, close-to-perfection ending to Jackman’s incarnation of such a fascinating modern character.
Alejandro Turdó / Writer (CABA, Argentina – 1982) Ale got his degree in Image & Sound Design at Universidad de Buenos Aires (UBA) and is also a Technician in Audiovisual Post-Production. For year’s he’s been a critic for EscribiendoCine and A Sala Llena, a certified Rotten Tomatoes critic and a Redactor of Digital Content. He talks film at http://www.radioborder.tv.