Film review by Jason Day of Logan, the X-Men themed action adventure starring Hugh Jackman in the title role and Patrick Stewart as Dr Charles Xavier.
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Mexico, 2029: On the border with the US the mutant Logan, aka Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) is in hiding with mutant leader Professor Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart), after an earlier incident in which the telepathic Xavier killed several of his ‘X-Men’. When Logan is approached by a nurse who offers him a huge sum of money to take a special little girl called Laura (Dafne Keen) to a mythical mutant idyll in the US, he readily accepts. But an outside force led by the scientist Zander Rice (Richard E. Grant), who is responsible for creating Laura as a mutant soldier, is tracking them.
Now unbelievably into its 10th instalment (and the third one to focus on the ‘Wolverine’ character), it was inevitable that Marvel and Fox would have to direct their cash cow to plough another field, having flash, bang and walloped the life out of this now tired series.
Tired is a good word as Jackman, for so long the vital and muscular action hero of the franchise, has been allowed to wither and grey. His famously regenerative powers are explained away here as weakening as he ages, his body poisoned by the substance originally put into him; he is now battle scarred, bloodied and broken veined.
This is one of many good ideas in the script for this revisionist, pared-down approach. The film is linked in part to the classic western Shane (1953) that is screened during Logan and whose theme of a morally dubious hero’s redemption seen through the eyes of a youngster who idolises him, certainly makes this the most interesting X-Men film so far produced.
Anyone who knows me knows I am no fan of comic book adaptations; I’m very far removed from the being a super-fan. But there are some sly things in this film that even a non-Xphile as I can enjoy.
Stewart scores strongest in support, his Professor Xavier’s lucidity and honeyed placatory tones have been replaced by a form of dementia, leaving him a foul-mouthed loon in a wheelchair, cackling and hissing at whomever happens to be near him, frequently dropping the f-bomb.
His spherical means of locating any mutant in the world, Cerebra, is long gone and he now lives in the capsized remnants of a water tower, the glittering stars that represented those mutants replaced by light through air holes in the tower.
The desolate Mexico setting perfectly complements the personal waste ground that these outsiders eke out a living in. Although we see nothing of President Trump’s wall (presumably erected in 2029), we pointedly see the security checks at the border; difficult to get in, but the US authorities calmly let anyone go back to Mexico. (A further, sage reminder of the decay of the future comes via an update about the tiger’s conservation status – extinct).
Jackman has never been given so much to go on for this character before and, being the very workmanlike and effective film actor that he is, jumps at the chance to sketch a little more depth into his most successful cinematic incarnation.
Scary little Keen, as the most robust and fearsome of children, is an impressive find and bulks out a uniformly good value cast.
At 2 1/4 hours, this is a lengthy film, but it could have been 30 minutes shorter had the nauseatingly frequent scenes of impaling and skewering been edited out.
I am reliably informed that this film features a level of fighting akin to that featured in the comic books (for Wolverine, this stretches back to around 1974).
But seriously, is this going to become a new form of cinematic ‘torture porn?’! How on earth did this film, with its numerous shots of the human body being pummelled, poked and punctured by all manner of objects scrape a 15 rating?
From Jackman’s clone (I won’t bore you an explanation here. Suffice to say, this is X-Men and it happens) being staked by an agricultural thresher, to constant shots of hypodermic needles injecting people, villains stabbed to death via pine needles and, finally, Jackman impaled on a tree stump, Logan does whatever it can to hammer home the idea that, as the Wolverine’s body breaks down, its greatest function (running people through with his metal scythe/fingers) is externalised for the child mutants to use in defence. It’s Logan’s parting gift, you see.
It was enough to make a reviewer smash his head against the cinema walls; really guys, enough is enough. Considering that a team of people have dreamt these sequences up, its also seriously worrying in terms of their psychology.
Therapy anyone? After seeing this stabbin’ cabin of ‘thrills in the hills’, I might force my way to the front of the queue.
Cast & credits
Director: James Mangold. 137mins. Donners’ Company/Kinberg Genre/Marvel Entertainment/TSG Entertainment/Twentieth Century Fox Film. (15)
Producers: Simon Kinberg, Hutch Parker, Lauren Shuler Donner.
Writers: Scott Frank, James Mangold, Michael Green.
Camera: John Mathieson.
Music: Marco Beltrami.
Sets: François Audouy.
Hugh Jackman, Patrick Stewart, Dafne Keen, Boyd Holbrook, Stephen Merchant, Elizabeth Rodriguez, Richard E. Grant, Eriq La Salle, Elise Neal.