Let's have a big, spoiler-filled discussion about Logan, the ninth and apparently final film in the Wolverineogy, a term I've neither used, nor heard once before today.
The year is 2029, and mutants are laying low from a controlling government. Logan (Hugh Jackman), with those giant steel claws jutting from his knuckles, is an old folk hero to persecuted mutants everywhere. But he’s old and tired and taking odd jobs to pay for Professor X's (Patrick Stewart) medicine—his telekinetic boss who's succumbing to Alzheimer’s, or a similarly degenerative disease. The Professor is capable of doing a lot of damage with that bum brain of his, by the way. Laura (newcomer Daphne Keen) is a young mutant and escaped patient put under Logan's care. Together, they go on the run from an evil government looking to kill Laura, contain Professor X and do away with Logan. If that sounds complicated, it's because we've had like ten movies in this universe setting the groundwork. I think you can just go into this film clean though. Don't make watching The Rogue Cut of Days of Future Past a priority before seeing this.
Logan opens with some hardcore cussing and grizzly violence; chopped of limbs and face stabbings. It really wants you to know that this ain't your mamma's typical PG-13 snoozefest, and while that kind of self-conscious filmmaking would normally bug me, I think it works here. The movie doesn't feel like a superhero movie. It feels heavier, and motivated almost entirely by character; not some ridiculous blue-light-in-the-sky threat to humanity plot line. It also looks great, the way a good post-apocalyptic movie should, and the script never gets too mired in cliché. How many characters have we seen careen down a dirt road in a beat up car, come up to a locked fence, and after the driver coolly mutters, “Hold on,” bust through that fence like a bull eating hot sauce? In this movie, the car gets a little stuck on the gate. Hmm! A nice break from the routine. The movie is full of moments like that.
The villain, played either by Boyd Holbrook or a close-up of a Dior ad, is blandly Southern and vaguely menacing, or blandly menacing and vaguely Southern. But Hugh Jackman is sexy. Crazy, stupid sexy. A weathered, sexy broken man in a bloodied wife-beater. At one point he wears a low-key pair of reading glasses: he works it. Jackman gives a hundred percent to his performance, and the intensity and carnage of the character are on full display. Same goes for Laura, played equally viciously by Spanish eleven-year-old Dafne Keen. Even their guttural gnarls and grunts make my balls retreat into my body. During one especially emotional fight, I actually uttered under my breath, “She's so fucking cool.” Patrick Stewart is also great as a sad old man. The movie makes you feel sorry for him, but also kind of annoyed by his doddering. When Logan yells at him to stop repeating himself during a car chase you kind of get it. It's a sweet, tragic turn, and it's Stewart's best performance in years, if you don't count this charming story:
So, when all is said and done, what's this movie about? I mean what's it really about?
Maybe identity? Wolverine was unstoppable and merciless for more than a century, and Logan was just the temporary placeholder for that mammoth force, the public face of an all-encompassing killing machine. And now that Wolverine is dying, Logan—the contemplative, caring human being—is finally living his life.
The movie might also be about violence, and the toll it takes on everyone. Logan spends a lot of the film trying to keep Laura from killing, something she's obviously very good at, because he knows it's only a matter of time before she has the same nightmares and predilections to the bottle as he does. “Don't be what they made you,” he says to her towards the end of the film, possibly not verbatim because I don't take good notes. The mistakes of the father and whatnot.
Now that I'm thinking about that, I'm realizing this movie might be about family. Logan, his father figure Professor X and de facto child Laura are all each other have left. Their bond is as strong as Wolverine’s perfectly sculpted biceps, and as Logan bleeds out for the final time, he says to Laura, “So this is what it feels like.” I think he’s talking about love, and I think the movie is saying that nobody can bear their cross alone, and how when the chips are down, and when life stops giving you lemons, and instead brings you a bunch of downed chips, what matters most is family. I might be mixing metaphors.
It's worth noting that it could also be about immigrants and refugees. After all, the whole plot centers around safety being across the border. But I’m probably getting too heady about this. After all, this is a movie about an angry claw man killing bad guys from the same studio that brought you Howard the Duck.
So, it's time to say goodbye, Wolverine. You went out on top, in the only X-Men movie to be a good movie first, and a good superhero movie second. I'll see you in a few years, in the inevitable sexy teen reboot when Ansel Elgort plays you.