This movie may prove to be one of the better films of 2017. I wonder if it will be remembered at Oscar time.
Logan is a colossally good film on multiple levels. Though R rated and profoundly violent from beginning to end, it is a heartwarming tale about how an aging, dying man is forced to rediscover the meaning of life.
This is a spoiler alert, although most articles have already centered on the heartbreak that encompasses Logan. Recreating a role that he has played in nine films, Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine is a mutant dancing on the edge of death. He walks with a profound limp and doesn’t heal as quickly when shot by an assailant. On top of that, having long ago lost the love of his life, Jean Grey, he spends most of his time trying to make a few bucks as a chauffeur.
Adding to his trauma, the physical health of his old mentor, Charles Xavier (known as Professor X), is far worse than his own. Living in an abandoned silo while cared for by Caliban (Stephen Merchant), a loyal friend from the old days, Logan tries to provide as much medication as possible to keep Mr. Xavier from accidentally killing himself as a result of his decaying mutant skills.
As always, Patrick Stewart gives a powerful performance as the dying Professor X, and at the age of 77 he demonstrates the formidable talent he displayed as a right-wing villain in last year’s overlooked Green Room. Though Logan has lost the desire to help anyone, Xavier implores him to protect a young female mutant called Laura. In the process, Logan is forced to overcome his disgust and save her and his old colleague when a sinister underground force appears in the pursuit of Laura.
Let me just say that the entire film functions as an old western where Logan tries to drive Laura from the Texas/Mexican border to meet young colleagues in North Dakota. Ghastly violence waits around every turn, and you must be warned that you will be watching some very wonderful people get viciously killed by a ruthless small army of amoral pursuers led by Boyd Holbrook. Mr. Holbrook is supremely hateful, yet you will be mesmerized by his startling performance.
Without question, what makes this film such a hit at the box office comes from the spectacular performance of young Dafne Keen, here playing Laura. A young mutant no older than the age of 12, she is capable of defending herself in a startling fashion where she resembles an adolescent female Wolverine. Despite the fact that Logan learns that Laura and other children were the subject of ungodly surgical experimentation by a lab run by a Nazi-type doctor played by Richard E. Grant, Laura only asks for Logan’s help in driving her to the Canadian border where other young escapees from this hideous medical institution await.
It has been a long time since I have seen such a wildly inventive character as played by Ms. Keen’s Laura. She says nothing during the first two-thirds of the film, and Logan, along with the audience, believes she is a mute. When she does eventually talk, her talent is displayed by the simple fact that speaks both Spanish and English. Though a relationship gradually develops between the two, Logan remains completely detached, interested in only receiving a large cash payment upon getting her to her northern location.
While I don’t dare go any further and describe where this movie is heading, as noted earlier, it is a very moving story. With the exception of Xavier and Caliban, all of his friends are long gone. Yet what he discovers in his growing bond with Laura will lift your spirits to a level seldom seen in any film.
This movie has a lot in common with last year’s Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, a movie where nearly all of the good guys died to save their planet. While you will have to see this film to learn the fate of Logan, Professor X and Laura, let me just note that there is a meaningful scene in an old motel where the Professor is having Laura watch the old classic western Shane (1953). You see them watch the dialogue of Alan Ladd where he says goodbye to the young boy who loved him.
Like that little boy, I loved this movie. I and many members of the audience sat and watched the final credits as we wiped tears from our cheeks. Saying goodbye is always difficult, even if it pertains to fictional characters appearing for the last time on the big screen.