This is a review for the 2017 Wolverine movie directed by James Mangold. There’s another Logan, released in 2010, that’s apparently a Christian action/comedy. I’m sure it is a perfectly good film, but it doesn’t have Hugh Jackman or Patrick Stewart in it.
Mangold also directed The Wolverine, a movie I haven’t watched yet, as well as many others that I watched and wasn’t aware that he directed, including Identity, 3:10 to Yuma, and Girl, Interrupted.
There will be SPOILERS ahead in this review. Unless you’re a Johnny-come-lately, like I am, you’ve already seen this one, or, if you haven’t, aren’t concerned with spoilers. If neither of these statements applies to you, stop reading now.
This movie was inspired by the “Old Man Logan” comic book story line by Mark Millar and Steve McNiven, which I’ve never read. The girl Laura is also a known entity in the Marvel Comics universe. She’s a character known as X-23, or, later, as the new Wolverine. Those of you who have kept up with the comic book continuity over the years knew all of this before the movie started. I was mostly a blank slate, with everything I knew about Wolverine ending sometime in the early ’80s.
This is a dystopian future, possibly an alternative future if I know my comic book storytelling, in which no mutants have been born in 25 years. Logan, also known as James Howlett, is actually 140 to 150 years old, his longevity a beneficial side effect of his mutant regenerative abilities. In the movie, he is beginning to physically age as his mutant powers are on the wane. He doesn’t heal as well as he used to, and he occasionally coughs up blood. Apparently, the adamantium in his system is now poisoning him as well. In short, after a long life, Wolverine is beginning to die.
You get the impression that he would end it himself, but, along with the albino mutant Caliban (Stephen Merchant), he’s taking care of the 97-year-old Charles Xavier. This impression is bolstered by the fact that Logan keeps a single adamantium bullet handy, which is the only kind of bullet which could pierce his skull. While keeping Professor X safe, Logan drives a limousine for money and drinks a lot of alcohol.
This is his base state, his status quo, as the story begins. Something or someone has to be introduced into his life to change things up. That someone turns out to be Gabriela Lopez, who was once a nurse for a biotechnology corporation Alkali-Transigen. Gabriela wants to hire Logan to escort her and an 11-year-old girl, Laura, to Eden, a refuge in North Dakota. Gabriela ends up dead, and Donald Pierce, Transigen’s cyborg chief of security, confronts Logan at his Mexican hideout. There’s obviously something bigger and more sinister going on here. Logan manages to escape, with Charles and the girl, but Caliban is captured.
A video on Gabriela’s cell phone reveals that Transigen has been creating mutants from DNA samples to use as weapons. Laura was created using Logan’s DNA, which effectively makes her his daughter and explains why her powers are similar (although she has those neat foot claws as well, which I like). Gabriela and other nurses helped some of the children in the program escape because Transigen was scrapping the project and all the children were slated to be destroyed. The Transigen cyborg guy and his Reavers catch up to our protagonists in Oklahoma City. A well-timed seizure by Charles Xavier incapacitates everyone in the vicinity except for Logan and Laura, who kill pretty much everyone else and escape.
Transigen is using Caliban to track Logan. They catch up to them next during a sweet, quiet moment in the film, in which Logan, Charles and Laura meet the family of farmer Will Munson and accept an invitation to dinner. A new Transigen weapon, X-24, which is a younger clone of Logan himself, is unleashed. X-24 murders all of Will’s family and Professor X, and ultimately Will himself, who dies of his injuries after pinning X-24 with his truck. Caliban manages to set off several grenades, killing himself and several Reavers, and wounding the cyborg Pierce.
Logan and Laura escape with Charles’ body. Yes, Professor X is dead.
Logan buries Charles, and Laura convinces him to prove that the site in North Dakota isn’t the Eden from the X-Men comic book. Once they arrive at Eden, they find a bunch of children from the Transigen program preparing to cross over into Canada. Laura also finds Logan’s adamantium bullet. Logan decides he will not join them in Canada. His work is done.
Now, the adamantium bullet has made two appearances in this story. There’s a writer’s rule from Anton Chekhov about showing a gun in the first act that applies here, I think.
Rictor, one of the Transigen mutants, gives Logan a vial of a serum that temporarily boosts his strength and enhances his healing abilities. It’s like one of those magic pills they try to sell middle-aged men watching late night television. The children are captured by the Reavers, as the story dictates they must be, and Logan gives himself an overdose of the serum. This turns him into the very image of his younger berserker self.
After some cool action, the serum is wearing off, and Dr. Zander Rice, the head of Transigen, delivers a mini-lecture about how Transigen was responsible for wiping out mutant births through a virus distributed through the world’s food supply. Logan kills Rice the old-fashioned way, by shooting him. X-24, the younger version of Logan, then fights Logan alone. While the guards are distracted by this title bout, the Transigen children rise up like angry Ewoks, killing Pierce and the remaining Reavers.
X-24 manages to impale Logan on a wickedly stout tree branch. Laura, using the adamantium bullet that Chekhov insisted had to be used in the third act, kills X-24 by shooting him in the head. Logan dies anyway, but not before having a heartfelt father-daughter chat with Laura, who tearfully acknowledges him as her dad.
Laura and the other children bury Logan, but before they head into Canada, Laura turns his cruciform grave marker onto its side, making an X instead, honoring Logan as the last of the X-Men.
The end. Roll credits.
I liked this movie a lot. I wasn’t alone in this, of course. Thankfully, Deadpool had proven that an R-rated superhero movie could still make a lot of money at the box office, otherwise this movie would have been a more tepid PG-rated affair, or, and this is more likely, wouldn’t have existed at all. It turned out to be a huge money-maker which can never have a sequel unless it’s a movie about Laura as the new Wolverine.
The violence is as over-the-top as a Wolverine movie should be, and there’s quite a bit of foul language. But, no sex, if that’s where you draw the line.
I don’t know if this will be the last time Hugh Jackman appears as Wolverine, as he has said. I think enough money could convince him otherwise. Whatever happens, I have enjoyed his take on the character, even though he remains too tall for the role as he has since the beginning. I also applaud the makers of this movie for being ballsy enough to kill off both Professor X and Wolverine.
I may have to dive back into the comics to read the “Old Man Wolverine” story myself. I know that’s doing things backward, but if that story is as good as the one told in this movie, I’m certain it would be a good read.
Firewater’s Superhero Movie Report Card: A