Logan is a Stirring - but Bloody - Finale
- Debbie Holloway Contributing Writer
- 2017 2 Mar
Hugh Jackman's self-admitted final foray into the character of Wolverine strikes a different note entirely from earlier installments in the X-Men franchise. Gritty, profane, and bloody, it’s meant only for mature viewers - but both casual and dedicated fans will be moved by its Western-esque themes of family and faith. 4 out of 5.
The modern X-Men film franchise began in 2000, and has since been complicated by time travel, dozens of characters, and plenty of high-crisis world saving. But Logan, set in a bleak year 2029, is stripped down, almost a Western. Nearly all mutants have died out, and no more mutant children are being born. Logan (Jackman) has aged more and is angrier than we've ever seen him; he and fellow mutant Caliban (Stephen Merchant) care for the sick and elderly Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart), whose seizures threaten chaos due to his massive mental powers. Logan's sights are set on taking Charles and escaping their bitter hideaway, but his plans are waylaid when a young girl crosses their path - the first mutant anyone has seen in 25 years. As a sinister plot unfolds, Logan must decide whether to help Laura (newcomer Dafne Keen), and where to place his hope.
For X-Men fans, there are just enough references and real Wolverine moments. For newcomers, the characterization is robust and the dialogue is easy to follow without the painful exposition so often found in sequels. The soundtrack is strong - you forget about it when you’re supposed to, but it keeps drawing back your notice (in a good way) just at the right moment. The script also has several powerful themes, and is truly deft in its handling of them. Children play a large role in the plot (unsurprising spoiler: the bad guys are trying to breed mutant soldiers now) - and one can't help but ponder the impossibly monumental importance of children to the world. Children are approached carefully and never underestimated in this film because of their unique gifts; it makes one wonder: what might change if we treated them like that all the time? This and other themes, like family and faith, really stand out.
It almost goes without saying that the leading roles are portrayed superbly by Jackman and Stewart. Stewart's face and voice give so much life to the hopeful Professor X we know and love, and Jackman's excellent characterization is strikingly accented by his physical scars, wounds, and huge frame - constant reminders of his tragic story. Dafne Keen as Laura is also strong leading lady, though it's difficult to watch such a young child in such a violent saga.
The movie is long (2 hours, 17 minutes), and for some viewers its cinematic merits won't outweigh the rough and sorrowful material. There's a lot of death, profanity, blood and violence - not something the superhero movie normally looks like. Unlike Deadpool, however, Logan doesn't feel crass or crude; rather, it feels like our characters are navigating a grittier, more violent world in the best way they know. Even so, Logan will be too extreme for some viewers.
Christian Worldview Elements / Spiritual Themes
Those familiar with the X-Men franchise know that these movies are never afraid of a good worldview discussion, and Logan is no exception. The idea of humanity is questioned and discussed: what things are inborn, and what can be taught? What makes a life worth living? (Logan carries around a suicide bullet with him, and muses, "We always thought [mutants] were part of God's plan. Maybe we were God's mistake.") The theme of family, and familial responsibility, is important throughout the film. Sometimes, the world leaves us alone. But Professor X reminds us that we can still create our own communities and safe havens - our own families - if we choose to. If we truly want it.
A very Christian-like faith threads through the film in ways that will give viewers a lot to ponder. A family we meet gives thanks over dinner, and has a discussion about how the Lord provides for their needs. Logan's faith journey is annotated beautifully by clips of the western film Shane which the characters watch during one scene, and also by the use of Johnny Cash's The Man Comes Around over the closing credits. Logan's one of the sinners; he's deep in darkness and he knows it. But he knows the whole picture is bigger than himself, and he's been doing all he knows to figure out the darkness around him. Laura, even in her darkness and rage, represents life, hope, and future; she is working to make her way toward a specific safe zone where she will be reunited with other mutant children, and with those who can help keep her safe. It's called Eden, and though there's evidence that this place exists, she has no hard proof. Logan doubts its existence, but Laura's faith is never shaken. Near the end, the children do converge and form a coalition very near this border, and we see them begin to build a life-affirming community together, but we never exactly glimpse Eden. This is left to interpretation: do children create Eden by teaming up? Are there more allies waiting on the other side?
CAUTIONS (may contain spoilers)
- MPAA Rating: R for strong brutal violence and language throughout, and for brief nudity
- Language/Profanity: Language throughout, including many instances of the F-word, but nowhere near the level of Deadpool, last year's R-rated superhero movie.
- Sexuality/Nudity: A (likely intoxicated) teen girl flashes her breasts to another character briefly.
- Violence/Frightening/Intense: Intense, bloody, and occasionally gory violence throughout. Several characters with steel claws are shown slashing, puncturing, impaling, stabbing and even decapitating enemies during battles. Lots of death, and the kind that looks painful. A man is shown with painful wounds, and coughing up blood. A man sets off a grenade in his own cage in order to hurt or kill captors within range. A man destroys a car with a shovel. Characters shoot others and are shot at. Much of this violence is enacted upon, or by, a young child.
Drugs/Alcohol: A man is shown drinking throughout from various flasks and bottles to deal with his depression. A man is briefly seen in a bar. Mysterious drugs are used and seen that enhance mutant powers. A man appears to obtain prescription drugs in an illegal way to give to an elderly patient. An elderly man must take pills and be administered syringes every few hours to treat his seizures.
The Bottom Line
RECOMMENDED FOR: Mature viewers who like a gritty action flick paired with thoughtful themes. Fans of Hugh Jackman and/or his Wolverine films.
NOT RECOMMENDED FOR: Children, those who are squeamish or sensitive to violence and blood, those who prefer light-hearted and family friendly comic book/superhero films.
Logan, directed by James Mangold, opens in theaters March 3, 2017. It runs 137 minutes and stars Hugh Jackman, Patrick Stewart, Dafne Keen, Boyd Holbrook, Stephen Merchant and Elizabeth Rodriguez. Watch the trailer for Logan here.
Debbie Holloway is a storyteller, creator, critic and advocate having adventures in Brooklyn, New York.
Publication date: March 3, 2017