*** (3 stars)
I admit to being a faithful reader in my youth of just about every Marvel and Detective brand comic book published. I can fondly remember as kids my cousin and I rushing down to the local Rexall store, having the cashier breaking $1.00 into change for each of us, then purchasing the comic books from a vending machine (and believe it or not, the comics were only 12 cents each), which resulted in my cousin and I both rushing home with a handful of comic books, enough to keep us quiet as we sat on the living room floor of my home while we read each of them, then handed over the read copies to each other, reading the other’s purchased comic books. This would carry us well into the afternoon. No DVDs, no video games, we were actually READING and learning!
I also read the X Men series of comic books, but I must confess that they were not my favorites, those being “Luke Cage, Hero for Hire,” “Batman,” “Spiderman,” “Superman” and the various villains that they beat into submission month after month.
I have also faithfully seen almost every “X-Men” movie ever made. For the most part, I’ve enjoyed them, though I must confess that “Wolverine” had grown a little long in the tooth for me. I actually passed on the last X Men movie made that included the Wolverine character. He had come to be a completely predicable character, actions and behaviors that I had grown bored with.
When I had heard that a new, stand alone “Logan” movie was being made, I was far from interested in it. Fortunately, my nephew had arrived home from Howard U. for a brief break, and he had invited me to a movie with him. He wanted to see “Logan,” so I decided to do some reading up on it from articles that had been written. After reading up on the making of “Logan,” I had become intrigued at the prospect of viewing this farewell movie to the character. I walked away from the movie glad I had taken the time to see it, having seen what I think is probably one of the best Marvel superhero movies made so far from the comic book characters.
Hugh Jackman reprises his role of Wolverine, aka James Howlett, aka “Logan” (his adopted name, you will have to see the movie to find out more about that); Like in previous movies about his character, Logan is a complicated man. He’s not the man he once was; his healing factor is not nearly as effective as it has been in years past; he now walks with a limp, and appears, well, sickly. He is scrounging out a living in the year 2029 as a limo driver for hire, something he clearly doesn’t enjoy, but hey, it pays the bills. The money he is earning not only supports himself, but two other mutants he is taking care of, a short distance outside of California, on the Mexico side of the border, where fewer questions are asked.
The mutants that Logan are supporting from his job as a limo driver are “Caliban” (aka Hunter, played well by British actor Stephen Merchant) and Dr. Charles Xavier, with the always-outstanding Patrick Stewart reprising his role as Professor X). Professor X is quite a bit older now, and sickly. His powerful mind has been compromised by a degenerative brain cancer, which causes Professor X to have powerful seizures…so powerful that they threaten to rip apart everything around him when they occur. Xavier’s condition is incurable, and Logan is doing everything he can to keep Xavier comfortable with black market drugs which keep Xavier sedated, and keep the seizures under control. Caliban is a mutant who is administering care to Professor X until the end comes. Caliban, while a mutant, is also an albino, and must keep his skin and his eyes protected from the blazing sun in their Mexican desert hideout. It’s not much of an existence, but it is what it is, and Logan does his best to care for his former mentor and father figure.
Eventually, Logan is sought out by a Gabriela, a Mexican woman (played well by NY actress Elizabeth Rodriguez, who is terrific in a small but pivotal role), a nurse who was employed a secretly financed government test lab, which turned out mutant babies by way of a formula. Gabriela cared for these test tube created mutant children as they matured, and she took a special liking to one, Laura (played will by Spanish child actress Dafne Keen, who is outstanding in this role. I see a big future in film for her as she matures). When the “mutant lab” was ordered destroyed, several of the mutant children escaped, helped in doing so by their nurses. Gabriela wants Logan to take Laura and raise her, because the two are connected. Logan, of course, resists this, as he has quite a bit of other responsibilities under his belt. But the privately financed group which created this group of mutant children wants what it sees as its property, and will stop at nothing to get them back…all of them.
The rest of the movie is reasonably predictable, as Laura and Logan eventually see that they need each other in order to survive this ordeal. Charles Xavier is still telepathic in his waning days, and he explains to Logan what Laura feels and needs when she cannot do so. The movie deals with a lot of pain which has existed in Logan for a long time, and makes Logan finally come to terms with it. Xavier, in his own way, helps Logan find himself, and in doing so, take on the responsibility of securing Laura’s safety.
I read somewhere that Hugh Jackman said he felt this movie was a good sendoff for his Logan character, and if he had been able to write this script himself, this was how he would have written it. It is indeed a great sendoff for two great X Men characters, and possibly, a change of direction if the writers/owners of the franchise wish to continue it. I found the movie entertaining on numerous levels, despite the usual high levels of violence.
Rated “R” for extreme violence. 2 hrs. and 15 minutes. Directed by James Mangold.