Logan Makes His Last Stand
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To be perfectly honest, the X-Men films never impressed me. The cartoons, despite its kid-friendly level, knew how to balance both the serious and fun elements of its story without being too brooding or silly. X-Men (2000) and X2 (2003) began with promise only to crumble in X-Men: The Last Stand (2006). X-Men First Class (2011) succeeded where X-Men Origins: Wolverine (2009) failed on reviving the franchise and while The Wolverine (2013) was an improvement over Origins it offered nothing new to the table. Days of Future Past (2014) and Apocalypse (2016) had their moments but carried only wasted potential. While technically an X-Men film, I highly doubt Deadpool (2016) takes place in the same universe but nevertheless, works for being its own silly but endearing thing.
With the exception of First Class and Apocalypse, these films have been from mostly Wolverine’s point-of-view. It’s with him that we first meet the X-Men, take’s leadership in the sequels, has now three solo spin-off adventures, and served as the bridge between the original and new cast of the X-Men in Days of Future Past. Speaking of which, would the future have been better with or without the time shift at the end of that movie?
Making-up for his cameo in X-Men: Apocalypse (though now that I think about it, that might have been a good thing), Hugh Jackman sharpens his claws one last time as everyone’s favorite mutant in Logan.
The year is 2029, mutants are all but extinct and those who survived have fled the country. No longer the young and fierce fighter he once was; Wolverine is a battered old man reaching the end of his life. Whenever he’s not drinking or driving limos as a night job, he looks after an aging Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart) with the help of an albino mutant named Caliban (Stephen Merchant). Things change when a young girl named Laura (Dafne Keen) aka X-23 shows up and possess the same powers of Wolverine. In what is perhaps their final mission both Wolverine and Professor X go on a road trip to deliver X-23 to a safe haven while being tracked by an evil company called Transigen, its band of mutant hunters called the Reavers led by the charming but malicious cyborg Donald Pierce (Boyd Holbrook) who are responsible for X-23’s powers and the extinction of mutant-kind.
Never have I seen such a hollow superhero film since Watchmen, where the acting, action, and story are solid but morbid to watch. No Country For Old Men was more uplifting than this. Much of the praise this film’s getting comes from fans finally seeing a Rated R Wolverine movie in which the claws can slash in its full gory glory and if you thought Wolverine was ferocious, X-23 is much more brutal. But hey, audiences responded well with a child cursing and killing in Kick-Ass so why not do it again. Giving her horrific and tragic back-story on how X-23 came to be, it helps the audience to sympathize with her but there were so many moments that she came off more as a brat. She’s willing to kill anyone even innocent bystanders who get in her way. Wolverine prevents that but still, it’s just unnerving. I get why the filmmakers would go this direction, besides Jackman wanting to retire the character and pass the baton to someone else, Wolverine is a character who has lived so many horrors and suffered all his life from losing friends and family and having his powers tampered with that it only makes sense to go The Dark Knight route. While Logan achieves in making his mark both as a character and as a movie, I’m not really sold on the end result in terms of story not character.
Two of my favorite films District 9 and Children of Men (also Rated R for its graphic content) have an almost similar premise as Logan of a cruel world where life is hopeless, meaningless and low chances of fighting the oppressors. The characters are just as cynical as the environment, and the plot doesn’t follow the conventional Hollywood happy ending but despite its bleak setting hope is alive. It might be faint to the point of .1% but it’s not dead. That’s not the case in Logan; any hope Professor X had for mutants and humans living in peace are dead and gone. I may not have been a fan of the X-Men films but to see it come down to this is just so agonizing. I’m not saying it can’t be done; Marvel did this with a Direct-to-DVD animated film titled The Next Avengers: Heroes of Tomorrow where the Avengers are killed and their young children take up the mantle. The difference is that this is a film series where audiences will probably watch more than any other form of medium whether it’s the comic books or cartoons. It’s just so heart-breaking that when looking back at the films leading up to this, I can’t help but wonder, was it all for nothing?