Logan: Emotional sci-fi roller coaster

Film: Logan

Cast: Hugh Jackman, Patrick Stewart, Dafne Keen, Boyd Holbrook, Stephen
Merchant, Doris Morgado

Director: James Mangold

So many hugely talented youngsters in the closing chapter of the last X-man standing, Wolverine. Such a pity the brutality and gore in “Logan” keep it out of bounds for kids. Is “Logan” the end of the Wolverine franchise? It can never be the same without Jackman and Stewart, but there’s a new gen out there to keep the flag flying. And Wolverine/Logan’s new found daughter is just the ticket. The year is 2029 and Wolverine/Logan makes living driving his Chrysler limo when he is not taking care of ailing Professor Charles (Patrick Stewart) Xavier in a decrepit bullet ridden shelter somewhere along the dystopian wasteland between Mexico and the USA.

What happened to the magnificent mansion that schooled the sleek alumni for 17 years? Where are the X Men? Prof X wants some answers about his condition, but director Mangold and co-writer Scott Frank; sorry, Logan isn’t forthcoming. It’s clear the X men are dead but for these two. And the Boss, the Prof is suffering from Alzheimer’s which could be a blessing in disguise given the havoc of which he has no memory at all. An X-reinvention of the Hindu God of Destruction Shiva and a Jesuit Superior General, the Prof has to be kept under sedation to keep his enormous psychic powers under control.

Helping Logan to the extent he can is the sun-averse albino Caliban (Stephen Merchant) Logan is (feeling) old and weary. The adamantium in his body is killing him slowly; his body doesn’t regenerate as quickly as it used to and the viewer is exposed to cringe-worthy self-surgery. He is content chauffering drunken students and grieving folks and wants to have nothing to do with the world as he knew it but life, as the Lennon lyric goes, is what happens to you as you’re busy making other plans. (No, the Beatles song doesn’t play but a Johnny Cash cover does) A terrified Mexican nurse (Doris Morgado) interrupts Logan’s dull lifestyle with a plea for help to flee a sinister task force (led by Boyd Holbrook) in pursuit of the savage youngster named Laura (Dafne Keen, terrific) in her care. The malevolent pursuers are in the employ of a multinational which wants to replace all “true” mutants with genetically engineered soul-less clones.

Mangold’s 135 minute film underlines emotional bonds and humanity over CGI slickness. Lengthy as it is, the story never wavers. Grit, self-sacrifice, bravery and courage are in abundance. Lots of violence too. Pulled willy nilly into saving Laura, Logan and Xavier slip into the roles of foster grand-dad and dad. Without giving too much away, let me just say Logan is an action packed road trip, you want to end happily at its intended destination: Redemption. Along the way, you get a taste of the American way of life. Logan helps an upwardly mobile black family of farmers which is being given rough treatment by racist neighbours. It ends badly.

And you understand why Logan is a loner when he looks back with regret saying, bitterly, everyone, everything I touch, gets hurt. But the film never descends into sentimentality not even in that heartbreaking scene between Laura and the dying Logan whom she addresses as Daddy. Is this what it (a family) could have been like, Logan whispers to the air. Equally moving are the scenes in which tormented souls are tortured (Caliban) or laid solemnly to their rest (Prof Xavier). This is one of the finest comic book adaptations to ever grace the silver screen.

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