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Film review | Logan: Fond farewell to a brutal teddy bear

Logan is a violent but strangely heartfelt tribute to a beloved character, whose passing from the cinematic veil is treated with dignity and a strange, addled form of grace • 4/5

teodor_reljic
Teodor Reljic
7 March 2017, 7:56am
Lone again: Logan (aka Wolverine) gets one hell of a swansong by actor Hugh Jackman in James Mangold’s futuristic take on the fan-favourite X-Men character
Lone again: Logan (aka Wolverine) gets one hell of a swansong by actor Hugh Jackman in James Mangold’s futuristic take on the fan-favourite X-Men character
Crafted out of the futuristic parallel universe comic book series Old Man Logan by Mark Millar and Steve McNiven, the film adaptation Logan – directed by James Mangold and once again starring Hugh Jackman as Logan/Wolverine and Patrick Stewart as Charles Xavier/Professor X – presents a down-and-out but strangely bittersweet cinematic swansong to characters that, on admission of the actors playing them, have ran their course on the silver screen.

It is the near future, and mutants have been wiped from the earth as the result of the machinations of some evil scientists, chief of which is Zander Rice (Richard E. Grant). But Rice’s henchman Donald Pierce (Boyd Holbrook) is on the prowl yet again, as this nefarious researcher-militia team have sniffed out some stragglers. Logan Jackman), who now ekes out a miserable existence as a limousine driver, is keeping Charles Xavier (Stewart) in a safe bunker in the middle of nowhere, where the former X-Men leader’s telekinetic powers – now made to run amok thanks to a degenerative brain disease – can do no harm to others. He is aided in this by the albino mutant ‘tracker’ Caliban (Stephen Merchant) who is however growing wary of the fact that keeping Xavier medicated and under lock and key might just prove to be unsustainable.

When Pierce comes knocking, the trio’s already precarious existence is tipped to breaking point. But Xavier knows there’s a card yet to be played: the promise of a young mutant going by the name of Laura (Dafne Keen) who may just hold the key to the regeneration of the mutant race. Problem is, Rice’s and his henchmen are looking for her too… 

The girl with the claws: Dafne Keen
The girl with the claws: Dafne Keen
Unshackled from the commitments to franchise-building, Logan turns out to be a thrilling an affecting character drama that just so happens to be set in a dystopian future and deal with superpowered beings. It’s a shameless genre cocktail told with power and verve, and feels like a cross between the merciless hinterlands of Cormac McCarthy’s The Road and No Country for Old Men, and the high-concept sci-fi drama of Children of Men. 

Another thing that distinguishes Logan from affiliated Marvel fare is that the film is, to a significant degree, a passion project for its star – and Jackson’s commitment to the role is palpable in every scene. The mechanics of the film itself don’t, of course, allow for any subtlety or major ‘actorly’ moments to seep through for any length of time, but Jackson still manages to pour great dollops of pain and world-weariness amidst all the explosions and dismemberment. 

Coupled with a Patrick Stewart wonderfully let loose – it’s both painful and utterly infectious to see such a formerly dignified character as Professor X devolve into a potty-mouthed grouch in his old age – and the Mangold’s film managed to lurch into wounded, crabby life despite the generic confines it still operates under, after all is said and done.

Logan is a violent but strangely heartfelt tribute to a beloved character, whose passing from the cinematic veil is treated with dignity and a strange, addled form of grace. May the gods of franchising accept to – finally – let sleeping wolverines lie, heartbreaking as it is to accept as a truth of many of his fans.

teodor_reljic
Teodor Reljic is MaltaToday's culture editor and film critic. He joined t...
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