Movies based on comic book superheroes have wooed massive audiences with their mix of humor and big action. It’s escapist entertainment at its best.
“Logan” is a reminder there’s a serious reason comic books have such a big following. Comics aren’t just a place for flashy drawings of characters with bulging muscles. They often feature stories with multiple emotional ebbs and flows. The writers give the superheroes depth and purpose.
This film embraces the emotional elements of the “X-Men” story that has unfolded in the comics, creating a touching and powerful bookend to the tales of the tortured character known as Wolverine, who first appeared on screen in 2000 in “X-Men.”
“Logan” takes place in 2029, a year when almost all mutants have been eliminated. It’s been 25 years since the last new mutant was born. Logan (Hugh Jackman) splits his time between being a limo driver, trying to destroy his self-healing liver through alcoholism and tending for the man who once mentored mutants, Prof. Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart).
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He’s keeping Xavier hidden away in Mexico because a deteriorating mental condition has made the professor’s mind a weapon of mass destruction. Logan’s only help in dealing with Xavier is Caliban (Stephen Merchant), who has the ability to track mutants.
It’s a sad life, but at least the three are surviving. That changes when Logan is approached by a woman asking for his help. He soon finds out the woman is looking to get the young girl she’s protecting, Laura (Dafne Keen), to a sanctuary for mutants who have been bred in a secret facility.
Logan initially denies the request, trying to distance himself from the mutant world that has caused him so many bad memories. He changes his mind when he learns Laura has been implanted with the same hardware that turned him into Wolverine.
“Logan” has some big fight scenes – and because the franchise has not shied away from a R rating, Logan leaves a wide path of bodies, most with a trio of blade holes in their heads. Toss in the same kind of human weapon from an ally and a foe and the movie never gets too far from the violence of this world.
The action sequences are part of bringing this comic book world to the big screen. But “Logan” is so much more. The script by Scott Frank, director James Mangold and Michael Green is balanced with stories of family.
After being on the run, Logan, Laura and Xavier are given the chance to spend the night with a family where they all get a glimpse of what a normal life should be like. Xavier calls the night one of the best he has had in years, but his happiness is mixed with the sadness from past events. It’s nice Stewart gets to show his acting skills after spending the majority of the “X-Men” films just zipping around in a wheelchair.
The relationship between Logan and Laura twists and turns, giving Jackman a chance to show the emotional depths he can play. He’s said this will be his last time playing the character and if he holds to that, then the film is an unforgettable final bow.
“Logan” gets its strength from its heartpounding action scenes and its heart-breaking personal moments. The ending is a little melodramatic, but not enough to take away from the power of Wolverine.
Cast: Hugh Jackman, Patrick Stewaart, Stephen Merchant, Dafne Keen
Director: James Marigold
Rated R (violence, language)
Opens: Friday, March 3