And if I am crying, it’s not because of you
It’s because I’m thinking about a friend of mine
You don’t know who is dying, that’s right, dying
These aren’t tears of sadness because you’re leaving me
I’ve just been cutting onions, I’m making a lasagna for one
Oh, I’m not crying, no
That’s all I could think of before I watched this movie for the second time. The first time being in theatres, and the second at home. And I cried both times.
Like a well adjusted man in touch with his emotions, and okay with them.
Cast: Hugh Jackman, Patrick Stewart, Dafne Keen, Boyd Holbrook, Stephen Merchant, Richard E. Grant
Director: James Mangold
re-released on blu-ray May 23, 2017
Rotten Tomatoes: 92%, Audience Score 91%
The Guardian: ****/*****
James Mangold is an American director, screenwriter and producer. He’s been responsible for some great films like Heavy, Copland, Walk the Line, the 3:10 to Yuma remake, and The Wolverine. He’s also directed Girl, Interrupted, Kate & Leopold, Identity, and Knight & Day. Which means that over the course of a 30+ year career, he has refined his ability to craft gritty, masculine films about relationships, loss, and character development. I’m glad to share that I’ve been there with him in good films and bad, and when the times are good with Mangold, the times are really quite good.
After the somewhat moderate success of The Wolverine, I was excited to learn that when Mangold was signed on to do Logan, he went to the fanbase to get insights on how to develop the story. Much like Hugh Jackman has done throughout his tenure as James Howlett, Mangold really took stock of the material and worked it over with proper attention.
Taking elements from the Old Man Logan run and The Death of Wolverine run (spoiler alert), this film gives Jackman room to breathe, much like Tim Miller did with Ryan Reynolds and Deadpool, he focused on the nuances of him.
In the year 2029, mutants are almost extinct. An aging and limited Logan (Hugh Jackman) lives with mutant tracker Caliban (Stephan Merchant) and cares for nonagenarian Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart), who has Alzheimer’s disease, which is effecting his telepathic abilities.
When a lady asks Logan to escort her and eleven-year-old girl Laura (Dafne Keen) to a place in North Dakota called “Eden”, he dismisses her at first. He then reluctantly accepts when money is offered, money that would get him and Charles onto open water away from people. But the Transigen corporation is looking for Laura, and they murder the lady, with Laura hiding in Logan’s vehicle.
Cyborg Donald Pierce (Boyd Holbrook) heads up a team of Reavers to find Laura, but not before Logan and Charles learn that Transigen was breeding mutant children under project X-23, and when they moved onto project X-24, the children were to be euthanized. Laura is a clone of Wolverine, AKA Logan. Caliban is captured, but the other three escape.
On the way to North Dakota, Charles experiences another seizure, but it happens when the Reavers have closed in, allowing Laura and Logan to dispatch them. At one point on the journey the X-family stay with a farmer and his family after helping to wrangle their horses away from a busy highway. During the evenings events Logan helps the father fix the water pipes, and deal with the encroaching corporate farmers and their goons. While Logan is away Charles remembers another seizure he had as Westchester, one which claimed the lives of many of the X-men and several civilians. But he doesn’t reveal this to Logan, it is X-24 a feral clone of Logan with limited healing factor.
X-24 murders Charles and the farmers family, and abducts Laura for the Reavers and the man behind it all, Dr. Zander Rice (Richard E. Grant)
Caliban sacrifices himself by setting off grenades, but fails to kill Rice and Pierce. Logan barely stops X-24, but the farmer is injured and blames Logan for his families deaths, succumbing to his wounds.
The pair bury Xavier and find their way to Eden, where the remaining children have all escaped. But the Reavers have caught up to them once again. This time Logan uses a Transigen serum to temporarily restore his healing factor, and he takes out many of the men. Laura and other children get away, but Logan is stopped by Pierce and Rice. We learn that Logan killed Rice’s father while escaping from the Weapon X program, and that the destruction of mutantkind was designed by adding a genetic dampener to the water and laced into the food supply. Without no hesitation Logan shoots Rice dead, but Pierce releases a renewed X-24, who impales Logan on a tree. The children wipe out Pierce with their powers and Laura shoots X-24 with an adamantium bullet before it can finish Logan off.
Before dying, Logan calls Laura his daughter, compels her to not be a weapon like him, and accepts the feeling of death. Laura and the other children bury him and head towards Canada, but Laura repositions the cross in the shape of an X before walking away.
A fitting send off for the man who would be Wolverine. Logan doesn’t necessarily fit into the Fox X-verse proper, but it doesn’t earn him his movie death, and it puts some great rose-coloured glasses over the seven films he starred in (nine if you include cameos).
Also what a great way to send off Patrick Stewart as well. The legacy left by these two characters/actors will likely be analyzed by movie geeks in the decades to come.
Pros: This movie takes what is now a common genre in filmmaking, the superhero, strips it off it’s special effects and adrenaline soaked pacing, and allows a real story to happen over its run time. The R-rating was almost necessary to allow Mangold the space to do Wolverine Justice. Jackman, Stewart, and newcomer Keen are all enthralling to watch.
Cons: That we had to experience nine films and a great darkness over the Fox X-verse before we could get to excellent depictions of two X-men characters. Three if you count Deadpool. And man is it dark. Where will Laura go from here?
Runtime: 2 hours 17 minutes
Points of Interest: James Mangold set the film in 2029 to give it distance from the rest of the film continuity and create a separate film with almost no requirements or expectations to carry into more sequels. The film relies very little on CGI and green screens. Also the debut film role of Dafne Keen.
Logan definitely earns its R-rating, and while there has been much speculation over whether Deadpool forced that direction, I’m glad for it either way. It pulls some influences from comic books like Old Man Logan and The Death of Wolverine without emulating the self-referential stuff too much. Heck at once point Logan even chides Laura by saying “…we’ve got ourselves an X-Men fan… Maybe a quarter of it happened — but not like this. In the real world people die! And no self-promoting asshole in a fucking leotard can stop it!”
This movie deserves to at the top of the comic book movie heap, it does all the kinds of things that The Dark Knight did, but it has infinitely more heart.
What else can I tell you about this movie? You should expect a longer more thoughtful take on the Wolverine, with character development being central to the plot. I think it deserves to win movie awards, and it’s a contender with Get Out for my favourite movie of 2017. Seriously that good. A fitting end for a guy who is the best at what he does. Only what he does isn’t very nice.
And that’s not a theory either, it’s well documented.