Monday, March 6, 2017


Hugh Jackman has been trapped in the Wolverine character since his star-making debut in the first X-Men movie back in 2000. The franchise has had its ups and downs since then, so when Jackman announced last year that the next Wolverine movie would be his last in the role, who could blame him?

The question was, could the filmmakers come up with an exit strategy for their indestructible mutant hero that obeyed the "rules" of the X-Men mythos and gave Jackman a satisfying send-off?

The answer, in Logan,  is yes and no. Yes, the storyline is plausible enough (well, as plausible as anything ever is in the X-Men universe). But satisfying? Not so much.

Previous franchise films have explored racism, xenophobia, intolerance, and whether or not social outsiders would choose to be "normal" if they could.

But Logan is one interrupted chase melodrama from first to last, with an endless parade of faceless bad guys to be dispatched in endlessly gruesome ways. (This is the first X-Men movie to get an 'R' rating, and it's not only for the F-bombs.)

Keen and Jackman: blood relations
Jackman is as watchable as ever. But in a film almost entirely unburdened by humor or emotional connections — two attributes at which he excels in other movies — his uber-brooding Logan (aka Wolverine) has nowhere to grow.

The movie was directed and co-scripted by James Mangold, who delivered a shot of adamantium to revive the series with The Wolverine in 2013 (after the fiasco of X-Men Origins: Wolverine).

This time out, Mangold seems to think he's keeping the focus on Logan's tormented psyche and (often inconvenient) moral decency, by introducing a new little mutant, Laura (Dafne Keen) — grown from Logan's own DNA, right down to the claws — for him to look after.

Art imitates Art imitating Life
They are soon besieged by an army of evildoers out to nab Laura before Logan can drive her cross-country to join her friends at a sanctuary for new mutant kids in Canada. In an interesting, self-referential twist, the place may only exist in the pages of the X-Men comics the kids all read.

But the constant, vicious fighting, as Logan faces off against carjackers, a lynch mob, convoys of sinister government ops, and his own genetically engineered doppelganger, leaves little time for further character development.

It would be helpful, story-wise, if father and daughter found another way to bond besides shredding bad guys. A moment when they compare nightmares (Laura dreams that "people hurt me," Logan, that "I hurt people") is a step in the right direction — but then, the script delivers another platoon of nasty adversaries to be decimated by the family that slays together.

Jackman is up to the task, as usual. But he, the character, and the fans might have wished for the saga to go out with a little less bang, and a lot more heart.

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