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Review: ‘Logan’ finds a tormented soul beneath the epic bouts of violence (Includes first-hand account)

There are some characters who through years of canon have become iconic. Their stories have taken many forms, but their essence remains unchanged. This allows for multi-generational fandom that can relate to one another because the focus of their esteem is essentially the same. Comic book characters top this list as almost everyone can hear the names of certain heroes and not only recognize them but conjure some feeling associated with them: Batman, Superman… Wolverine. Once in a while, someone entrusted with their tale does something truly interesting with the privilege, producing a new narrative that demands fans’ attention. Logan is that story.

It’s 2029 and Logan (Hugh Jackman) is not looking like his typical, virile self: he has a nagging cough, grey hair, gnarly scars and a prominent limp… and he’s working as a limo driver. In spite of his apparent fall from grace, a woman (Elizabeth Rodriguez) desperately seeks his help to smuggle a 10-year-old girl named Laura (Dafne Keen) across the border to Canada. However, the people looking for them don’t make this an easy task.

It’s difficult to talk about this film without revealing any spoilers because many of the core elements have rightfully been kept under wraps. So we’ll do our best while sticking to the basics. The overall condition of the future is relatively unchanged for non-mutants. They appear to be going about their regular routines with a few upgrades, such as self-driving transport trucks. But otherwise the world 12 years from now is fairly recognizable. The state of mutant affairs is an entirely different matter as their futures are rather bleak — circumstances reflected in the desolate Mexican desert where Logan lives.

Repeated attempts to shut down the Weapon X program have never been fully successful as the government and military’s desire for superior soldiers has almost always superseded the X-Men’s commitment to destroying their research. Thus Laura’s origins are initially unclear, but her gifts and possible connection to Logan are undeniable. Video diaries, photos and a general understanding of mutant history help viewers put together the pieces that lead to some upsetting realizations, as well as some inevitable confrontations.

The Johnny Cash song, “Hurt,” which was featured in the first trailer perfectly reflects the tone of the film. This is not a typical X-Men movie and there’s good reason it’s not titled a “Wolverine” sequel. Although it features spectacular action sequences and epic battles, it’s really about a man who feels he has little to still offer the world. Logan has become more controlled, but no less brutal; fighting is a last resort, but only because he knows he will win. The weight of decades of losing friends and innocents is heavy on his shoulders and he’s being crushed by it. But the arrival of Laura is a reminder of the man he once was and wanted to be, which is both a blessing and curse since the hero put away his tights long ago.

If after 17 years this is truly the last time Jackman dons the adamantium claws, it is the perfect send-off. There are no compromises to Wolverine or the story as it’s the harsh, sober, violent movie that fans always hoped the character would achieve. This film isn’t catering to the young superhero-loving crowd; it’s dark, mature and dedicated to its flawed, fallen hero. Jackman and Patrick Stewart, who plays Professor Charles Xavier, reprise their roles flawlessly as their embodiment of the characters has never faltered. Stephen Merchant is introduced as an albino mutant helping with more domestic tasks, while Boyd Holbrook is the villain leading the charge. While Laura doesn’t say much for most of the picture, Keen’s performance captures all the nuances of a child who feels angry, afraid and alone. Moreover, she’s a force to be reckoned with when fighting alongside Logan.

The symphony of gritty violence and sombre overtones are the swan song Wolverine deserves — though this movie says farewell to the man inside the yellow uniform.

Director: James Mangold
Starring: Hugh Jackman, Patrick Stewart and Dafne Keen

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