Old Man Jackman:
8 Ways “Logan”
is the Best There is
at What it Does
By Mikhail Lecaros
In 2003’s X2: X-Men United, there is a sequence in which enemy troops invade Xavier’s School for the Gifted under cover of night. With his uncanny teammates away on a mission, defense of the mansion falls to Wolverine (Hugh Jackman), and a handful of young students.
Taking full advantage of the first X-Men film’s success, director Bryan Singer used his newly-minted blockbuster clout to go as far as the PG-13 rating allowed; as Wolverine cut, stabbed, and sliced his way through the enemy troops, moviegoers were treated to their first taste of the character’s lethal berserker rage. Sanitized treatment notwithstanding, the sequence was visceral as it was thrilling.
For the next 14 years, that would be as good as it got for Wolverine, as the filmmakers and films that followed Singer’s initial salvo alternated between forcing the mutant antihero into conventional protagonist roles or just plain wasting him in superfluous cameos.
Which brings us to the newly-released Logan, the third in the character’s solo adventures, after X-Men Origins: Wolverine (2009) and The Wolverine (2013). Marking Jackman’s ninth go-around in the role, Logan is reportedly going to be the actor’s last turn as the clawed mutant.
Read on to see if everybody’s favorite X-Man goes out with a whimper or a bang!
You don’t need to know anything that came before
Unlike the increasingly unwieldy Marvel Cinematic Universe being produced by Disney, you don’t need a working knowledge of every previous film to understand what’s going on in Logan, and the story is all the better for it. This isn’t to say that the X-Men films don’t try for continuity, it’s just that nearly every attempt they’ve made has been uniformly terrible, thus the need for 2014’s soft reboot with Days of Future Past (that was sadly forgotten about when 2016’s X-Men Apocalypse came around). You know you’re doing something wrong when even Deadpool – which is set in the same universe – devotes dialogue to pointing out your problem.
It’s set in a dystopian future
Similar to films like Looper and Interstellar, Wolverine’s latest adventure is set far enough in the future (2029) to be somewhat fantastical (self-driving car and harvester robots!), yet close enough to our time to still be recognizable. In this instance, the two decade-gap is effective in distancing Logan from any self-contradictory continuity in one broad stroke, while driving home the idea that our long-lived hero is a man out of time. The paradigm shift helps immensely, as the Wolverine here is one whose healing factor isn’t what it used to be, with the former X-Man now an alcoholic eking out a meager living as a limo driver.
It’s a road trip movie about family
Similar to DC’s Batman, Wolverine has always been the brooding loner who somehow always seems to have a ridiculously-large supporting cast. Here, the superfluousness is largely done away with off-screen (the oft-cited “Westchester incident”), with supporting roles taken up by the unlikeliest of companions: a decrepit Charles Xavier (a returning Patrick Stewart) and Laura (newcomer Dafne Keen), a young girl with a secret.
As a roadtrip adventure, Logan has less in common with romps like Planes, Trains, and Automobiles (1987) and more with dramatic fare such as Rain Man (1988) or Little Miss Sunshine (2006) as our heroes struggle to evade capture while, despite themselves, managing to bond under impossible circumstances.
It’s a western about redemption
Halfway through the film, Charles and Laura manage to squeeze in a viewing of Shane while hiding out, with the ending proving to be of special interest to young Laura. In case that and the trailer’s effective use of Johnny Cash’s cover of Nine Inch Nails’ “Hurt” didn’t give it away, Wolverine here is very much representative of an Old West gunfighter seeking redemption in a changing world. However, as films like Unforgiven (1992), The Shootist (1976), and Shane (1953) have shown, attempts of this sort tend to result in even more blood being spilled, and Logan is no exception.
Oh, and while we’re on the topic of bloodshed…