X-Men is a film series based on the superhero team that first appeared in a series of comic books created by Jack Kirby and Stan lee, and Logan, released in 2017, is the 10th installment. The popularity of X-Men led to several spin-off films, which included a trilogy that highlighted the character of Wolverine- X-Men Origins- Wolverine (2009), The Wolverine (2013) and of course Logan (2017). Stated to be the ‘third and final chapter’ in the Wolverine series, Logan belongs to a period of time when mutants are about to become extinct (2029). In this film, Hugh Jackman (Wolverine/ Logan) and Charles Xavier (Sir Patrick Stewart) are aging- Xavier is in his 90’s with mind and body disintegrating while Logan’s mutant prowess is also on the decline.
Perhaps the grimmest movie of the X-Men series, no one can deny that it’s a fitting finale to Wolverine’s long and indomitable sojourn of 18 years. Director James Mangold has succeeded in his attempt to make Logan different from the other superhero films. He doesn’t hesitate to show how age has caught up with Logan and Xavier, who have a dual battle on their hands- the battle with mortals and the battle with their own inner demons that refuse to be silenced.
The superheroes of X-Men physically look the worse for wear- Logan, sans his much touted muttonchops is depicted as a drunk with mottled skin. Fittingly perhaps, in keeping with Logan’s aging process, Mangold shows a much-toned down and slowed-down Logan- his trademark claws don’t pop out with the same alacrity and the admantium (the alloy used to construct his metal body) enhancements are slowly poisoning him. A highly sedated Xavier suffers from brain seizures that make the “air molecules pulsate with menace”, paralyzing those around him.
The contrast between the raging Wolverine of the first two films and a more subdued Logan cannot be more marked. This perhaps was Mangold’s way of nudging and coaxing viewers into beginning to think of X-Men films sans the two superheroes.
A visibly tired Logan, who is hiding from the world in a farm in El Paso, is seen caring and looking after Xavier, now 90. However, when a young mutant- Laura-, who is being pursued by dark forces, enters Logan’s life, things change. Logan helps Laura escape from Dr. Zander Rice (Richard E. Grant) and gets embroiled in a dangerous adventure. That and what emerges on the sidelines is the crux of the film. Logan’s initial resistance to get caught up in the ‘Laura mire’, is overcome as the three become a family of sorts.
History repeats itself for Logan- 17 years ago, when he made money fighting in cages, a young girl showed him how it felt to be good and be wanted. Now Laura shows Logan what he actually is and makes him believe that his life is definitely worth something. The play of emotions between the three, the nature of Laura’s (aka X-23) interactions and connection with Logan and her inherent warmth shows Logan in a new light. From being a seasoned killer Logan is transformed into a ‘mentor and protector’ of the 11 year old Laura (actress Dafne Keen).
Logan and the others are on the run, when X-24, a genetically engineered clone of Logan, who is working for Rice, kills Xavier. Laura and Logan escape with Xavier’s body.
An angry and extremely exhausted Logan finds himself in a clinic where Laura had taken. In an effort to become his former self, Logan takes an overdose of a serum that the doctor had prescribed. He temporarily regains his physical abilities and his healing factor. However, a rejuvenated and healed X-24 kills Logan, who is now unable to heal with the effects of the serum fading away. Jackman has died before and recovered, but this- he knows- is the end. The once indomitable Jackman is subdued.
Logan has come a long way- family changed him from a cage fighter to a regular hero and it was family that killed the worst elements that resided in Logan.
X-24- Logan’s evil half- dies at the hands of Laura, who uses Logan’s admantium bullet.
As an actor, Jackman has refined and though Logan is not as exciting as Wolverine of the previous two films, its worth watching. It is emotional without being mawkish and drives home the point that it’s perfectly all right to fight when something good is at stake.
The end is very moving as a dying Logan advices Laura not to become a guinea-pig of the scientists that created her. In a touching scene, Laura acknowledges Logan as her father. We see Jackman’s strength and we feel his pain as we hear Laura’s filial call. Family triumphed over all else, even science. Laura’s iconic X over Logan’s grave says it all.
A film worthy of Jackman- a fitting swan song to his acting abilities.