I must admit, I wasn’t looking forward to seeing this film, as it just didn’t seem to be my cup of tea at all. My middle-aged friend has been extremely excited about it for a couple of months, and upon its release asked me to join him to our local cinema. I went to keep him company and hold his hand during the scary bits. If he hasn’t grown up yet, he never will. This was definitely his sort of film, but goodness me, once it started I was well and truly hooked.
The main character, James “Logan” Howlett, is played by Hugh Jackman. Formerly known as Wolverine, we join him in the year 2029, and the world is no longer full of superheroes. ‘Mutants’ are no longer born, and most of the thousands that existed in previous films are now dead, [su_spoiler title=”Spoiler alert!” style=”simple” icon=”chevron”]having been killed by their mentor Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart), a frighteningly powerful telepath, now suffering from Alzheimer’s and recognised as a WMD.[/su_spoiler]Wolverine has aged and become progressively weaker due to some nonsense that afflicted him in a previous film. It really doesn’t matter what that was, so let’s ignore that for a minute. He is now a slightly-famous civilian, working as a chauffeur during the day and taking care of an ailing Charles Xavier when he can, with the help of another surviving mutant, ‘Caliban’. One day, Logan is approached by a nurse who tells him that she had worked for a company called ‘Transigen’, that had been breeding mutant children from old DNA samples from several mutants. The project having been terminated, she has been helping the children escape a tragic fate, and now approaches Logan for help with escorting a young girl, Laura, to safety. The film proceeds along these lines in predictable fashion. None of this is really the point, of course. This film is about getting old.
While ‘Logan’ does include some fight scenes, a bit of gunfire, and some visceral deaths in close-up, these events are dealt with boldly, infused with reluctance and regret as much as with brutality. Even so, the film would stand up without these scenes. The slower, brooding scenes between Jackman and Stewart can easily be imagined as a stage-play…Stewart, particularly, is given the freedom to actually act; that Jackman can hold his own in such company is no surprise, either, for a performer of his range and experience.
Although the X-Men characters were created by Marvel in 1963, and have featured in comics ever since, all the X-men films have been made by Fox, which has demonstrated its lack of pedigree in the genre each time, as it has with its other property, the ‘Fantastic Four’. Fox, it seems, cannot make a good superhero movie. That’s fine, though, because Marvel is doing a great job, with ‘Iron Man’, ‘The Avengers’, the glorious ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’, and others, even helping Sony to rescue ‘Spider-man’ in return for the rights to use him in the forthcoming ‘Avengers’ films. It’s a good thing, then, that Fox didn’t try to make a superhero film out of ‘Logan’. It just made a ‘film’, and a very good one.
By all accounts, this tenth installment of the X-Men film series is by far the best. As Jackman’s final Wolverine film, it is perhaps the one he wanted to make, and deserved to make, because it validates everything else that’s gone before. In a way, the film itself is heroic, rescuing the largely dreadful previous installments from permanent ridicule. Now, with the release of ‘Logan’, the other films can serve as worthy prologues.
I will definitely watch it again.