Logan (2017) — Wolverine goes out on top

“Nature made me a freak. Man made me a weapon. And God made it last too long.”

Justin’s rating: Six out of six claws

Justin’s review: At the start of Logan, it’s immediately clear that something is really off with our favorite X-Man, played by Hugh Jackman for what we assume is the last time. This near-immortal man is aging, his healing factor is failing, he’s getting roughed up by mere thugs, and he’s — prepare yourself — working a lame job driving a limo. This isn’t the spirited, wise-cracking superhero who blazed his way into our hearts since the original film in 2000; this is a mutant who is worn down to the nub and barely holding on.

In Logan, it’s 2029, the X-Men are disbanded, and mutants aren’t so much of a thing any more in the world. Logan’s secretly caring for a dementia-ridden Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart), who apparently caused some mental explosion that wiped out a whole bunch of people and mutants. Obviously, we’re in for a happy-skippy ride where our favorite heroes are dead, grumpy, or losing their minds.

What Logan doesn’t need are any more complications or hardships, but both come in the form of the mute Laura (AKA X-23) — a mutant child made from his DNA and sporting a few retractable nasties of her own. As mutant hunters try to track her and others like her down, Logan oh-so-reluctantly agrees to be her protector, her mentor, and — eventually — her father.

This bedraggled future is certainly dismaying and depressing, especially for fans of this long-running franchise who are used to colorful team-ups and spirited adventures. We don’t want to see all of this come to such a sad end… and yet it’s hard to stop watching this movie. It’s the fact that it starts in the absolute pits gives way for a painful climb to redemption and purpose. It’s one last, great ride for the man once known as Weapon X, and it’s here that this whole journey comes to both a conclusion and to a purpose.

Certainly it was very risky to deviate from X-Men’s leather-suited PG-13 world to make a wonderfully mature and thoughtful character piece that just so happens to have superheroes in it. It feels like all bets are off, and that is deliciously dangerous. But it’s not just being bloody or dour as a cheap way to exploit R-rating territory; it’s essential to tell this story. And what a story it is.

Laura represents the flickering flame of mutant-kind that may finally be coming back into the world — if she isn’t extinguished. And it’s going to be just as hard to put her down as Wolverine, since she has the same healing factor, adamantium frame, and Swiss knife assembly. And while she doesn’t need a combat instructor — X-23 is plenty lethal all on her own, thank you very much — she does need something she’s never had before: a family.

It’s this family that Charles, Logan, and Laura are going to have to fight to protect. That fightin’ is going to be up close and very, very brutal, as befitting people who have knives welded to their bodies. We’ve seen Wolverine fight and kill in many other movies, but never like this, where it feels real and shocking rather than to make an audience cheer. It’s no less exciting, however.

Hugh Jackman’s been a fan-favorite in this role for a while, but this may be the first time that viewers have seen him as a person rather than a character. Logan is so tired and so reluctant to be drawn back into the superhero scene, but everyone — Laura’s caretaker, Professor X, and Laura herself — urge him to saddle up once more to fight on behalf of the disenfranchised.

Logan is a grim road trip (slash chase), but it’s not grimdark, and that’s an important distinction for me. I need the hope that not all is lost, that not all heroes are gone, and that not all struggles are pointless.

I won’t lie — this was a gut punch of a film. It seriously brought me down for a while until the psychic residue wore off. But I am quite glad I saw it. Rest well, Wolverine. You done good.

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