Monday, March 13, 2017
The backstory of this movie is detailed, intricate and way too involved for me to fit into a short report. So let's narrow it down to basics.
"Logan" is the ninth or tenth movie starring Hugh Jackman as the title character, a mutant superhero whose special powers are retractable claws and the ability to heal immediately from injuries. (The regeneration thing seems to be fading in this outing.)
Set in a dystopic 2029 when "The Statue of Liberty is over," Logan is trying to eke out a normal living as an El Paso limo driver when an agent of Transigen comes after him. (Transigen is an evil organization that has pretty much exterminated all the mutants in the U.S., except the mutants Transigen keeps and develops to use as enforcers for its malign agenda.)
Logan crosses the border to an abandoned Mexican industrial site where his old friend, 90-something Charles Xavier, another mutant, is in declining health, physically and mentally. The Transigen bad guys follow and then attack Logan, who escapes with Xavier and his caretaker, an albino named Caliban.
A silent 11-year-old girl named Laura, also a mutant, comes into Logan's life. She wants to join friends at a North Dakota place called Eden and to escape from there to Canada.
The Logan team heads north on a road trip that features encounters with the pursuing Transigen team and with an honorable farm family whose members suffer for their kindness and generosity.
And so it goes.
This is a superhero movie that takes itself very seriously. Yes, it has the requisite battles with beheadings and various weapons, but it is grounded on American soil and in the western film genre, specifically the 1953 movie, "Shane."
I haven't seen "Shane," but I looked it up. It is the story of a man who wants a normal, humdrum life but whose sense of honor requires him to protect the people he admires and to defeat bad guys, which ultimately makes normal life impossible for him. Like "Shane," "Logan" sets out to be a morality play with an emotional, human component.
Superhero fans, especially those who have followed actor Jackman's previous Logan portrayals, find this film deeply moving, reminiscent of classic myths and reflecting on the cost of heroism.
I enjoyed "Logan" more than the usual superhero movie, but I would have liked for the bad guys to have been sketched out in more than the standard two dimensions. With a running length of almost 2.5 hours, however, this movie didn't have room for any more complexity.