“Logan” is a terrible X-Men movie, but a very good Wolverine movie. I say that because director James Mangold holds about as much contempt for X-Men and its concept as Bryan Singer does. Mangold offers a vision of the team that is none too flattering. Set in an undetermined timeline of the movie series, we’re met with Logan in the distant future where he’s one of the only surviving mutants left on Earth. The dream has died, Professor X is now suffering from a brain disease that has turned him in to a burden, and everything the X-Men strived for has been forgotten and passed off as a joke. Now faced with nothing but a dark ending, he is confronted by a Hispanic woman who pays him to help her. Logan, at the behest of Charles Xavier, is tasked with caring for a small girl named Laura who is much more like Logan than even Charles Xavier realizes.
As he and Charles learn about her origin, he decides to drive Laura all the way to South Dakota to meet up with a new breed of mutants in a place named Eden that may or may not exist. “Logan” is a dark and dreary last hurrah for Hugh Jackman as Logan, who gives about the best performance he ever has for this character. It’s obvious Jackman knows this is his final bow, and he gives Logan about as much dignity as a character as he can muster up. “Logan” sets out to depict Logan in a time where the war has been fought and lost, and he’s now literally a veteran who has wreaped zero rewards for his struggle. “Logan” is really about PTSD and the war torn veteran who fought for a goal and a concept and literally gained nothing from it. No one celebrated the X-Men or Logan, and no one cares. Like a lot of veterans still torn from the war, Logan is in dire straits.
He lives paycheck to paycheck, sleeps in his car, and is basically homeless, relying on back door deals with hospitals for medication for Charles Xavier. “Logan” embraces its R rating to reveal how the gloss of the X-Men battles has all but worn off, depicting a wolverine who is basically dealing with his scars, and is inflicting brand new ones. He’s still very much torn by his past, as his healing abilities have all but left him a withering and wounded beast, and he is still haunted by those he’s killed. Mangold essentially masks his story about the life of a war veteran after the battle has been fought by masking it with a lot of the sensibilities of the X-Men universe. Logan is very much an exhausted and remorseless individual who wants no part of any war anymore, and is hoping to merely die with as much peace as he can gather.
But the battle comes stomping at his door, prompting him to give the mutant movement one last push that can probably introduce a new hope to Xavier’s wish for a new future for the mutant race. Mangold‘s direction is superb, and he pits Wolverine against other characters that parallel his own life. This includes an alpha male land baron, and a farmer as played by Eriq La Salle, who does everything he can to protect his family and is forced to do battle while trying his damndest to live a simple life. “Logan” is often compelling and vicious, even when suffering from some nagging questions about its plot. Did the comics inspire Eden, or did someone know about Eden and sneak it in to the comics? Was Logan really dying from adamantium poisoning? Also since Laura’s body is covered with metal, wouldn’t she either remain a small adult or die a painful death as the metal restricted her growth?
And most of all, what timeline is “Logan” a part of in the X-Men movie series? If this is “Days of Future’s Past” timeline then wouldn’t it spoil the films to explain that the mutants all died and lost? Will Mangold and Singer concoct another time travel nightmare to alter the storyline? That said, “Logan” is a very good and often compelling action film, warts and all. I was very engaged in the top notch performances by Jackman and Dafne Keen who is a scene stealer as young Laura. If you’ve been a fan of Hugh Jackman’s interpretation of Logan and Wolverine, this is the film to see.