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Review: "Logan" is Hugh Jackman's final Wolverine

If your attention wanders, try counting the bouncing severed heads

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According to Hugh Jackman, Logan marks his last appearance as Wolverine, the most popular of all the X-Men. His co-star, Patrick Stewart, announced the same thing just a few days ago. He was so moved by the film that he decided to call it a day for his take on Professor Charles Xavier, leader of the X-Men.

Make that former leader of the X-Men. The film takes place in 2029, and the X-Men are history. We are informed that a new mutant hasn't been born in 25 years, and most of the existing ones are gone. Apparently, writers Scott Frank, Michael Green and writer-director James Mangold didn't want to have to keep explaining why no superpowered beings came to assist our heroes, so they simply said bye-bye to millions of mutants. That bugged me a little, but I let it go. No matter what any writer does, the X-Men always come back.

I've been an X-Men fan since the first issue. They were outsiders designed to appeal to the alienated. As a gay teenager, I was double-alienated. Perfect! For me, Wolverine was a late arrival. He didn't turn up until the X-Men comic book series was rebooted to make it more colorful and diverse.

Fun Fact: Wolverine made his debut in the pages of The Incredible Hulk.

Having bonded with the original X-Men – Cyclops, Beast, Iceman, Angel, and Jean Grey – I had little patience for Wolverine's badassery, but I got used to him over time. Now, it seems, time has caught up with Wolverine. He's thicker, his beard is turning gray, and his healing powers are fading. He cares for Professor X, who has seizures – world's-most-powerful-telepath-earthquake-producing-seizures, the most dangerous kind – if not properly medicated. He loses touch with reality periodically, another aspect of his degenerative brain disease. I have a degenerative brain disease too – Parkinson's Disease. My symptoms kicked up midway through the movie. It made it difficult to concentrate on Professor X having difficulty concentrating.

I share my history with the X-Men and my affliction with Parkinson's to keep my reaction to Logan in its proper perspective.

The movie is brutal, packed with violence, pain and all sorts of misery. Children are repeatedly placed in extreme danger. Hell, children repeatedly kill other people. When it ended I felt battered, as much from the story as from the bout with my degenerative brain disease.

I'm not going through the whole plot. Suffice to say that Logan, Xavier, and their traveling companion, the mutant tracking Caliban (Stephen Merchant) are being chased by bad men from a bad agency. After a bit they get saddled with a young girl (Dafne Keen) who has eyes like Lucas Haas in Witness and a tremendous amount of power. The goal is to take her several states away to a safe haven that Logan believes is nonsense straight out of an X-Men comic.

Yes, there are X-Men comics in the movie. I like that, and it's fun listening to Wolverine bitch about their inaccuracies.

Director Mangold stays away from CGI as much as possible. The road movie has a gritty, genuine feel we rarely see in comic book based films. The action scenes are as easy to follow visually as they are difficult to watch. Man, this is a violent film.

Activity Suggestion: If your attention wanders, try counting the bouncing severed heads.

Hugh Jackman, Patrick Stewart contribute powerful, nuanced performances. Young Dafne Keen is memorable. The film has a number of striking moments. My favorite is when Logan, Xavier and the child help a farmer (Eric LaSalle – nice to see him!) and his family round up some horses that got loose on the highway. The scene is inventive and lyrical. When the family invites the trio to their home for dinner, I wanted to scream, “Don't do that! You're in a Wolverine movie! No good will come of this!” Alas, they fail to heed my psychic plea.

“Logan” runs two hours and 15 minutes. Not bad, but it feels a bit draggy because the road trip lacks definition. It feels aimless at times, as if the writers were just coming up with new travel spots to keep the characters busy until the inevitable confrontation at the end.

Of the three Wolverine movies, this is the best. I'm glad I saw it and glad it's over. There are points in our time on Earth where we need to be reminded that life's a bitch and then you die. Currently, I'm drawn more towards stories reminding me that hope springs eternal. Have fun with Logan and all the angst. I'm going to watch something a little less apocalyptic.


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