Monday, 13 March 2017

LOGAN : Tuesday 7th March 2017

I caught 'LOGAN' last week at my local multiplex. Hugh Jackman has been playing the character of James 'Logan' Howlett aka 'Wolverine' aka 'Weapon X' for the past seventeen years and has appeared in nine 'X-Men' films including this latest release which he says will be his last outing as the titular wisecracking adamantium clawed Superhero. He first appeared in 2000's 'X-Men' and then in 2003's 'X2', then in 2006 in 'X-Men : The Last Stand'. In 2009 Logan got his first stand alone feature in 'X-Men Origins : Wolverine' and was Directed by Gavin Hood bringing in US$374M at the global Box Office. 'X-Men : FirstClass' followed in 2011, then 'The Wolverine' in 2013 another stand alone feature Directed by James Mangold and bringing in US$415M in worldwide receipts. 'X-Men : Days of Future Past' was released in 2014, and 'X-Men : Apocalypse' in 2016. All up those first eight 'X-Men' films in which Wolverine/Logan has appeared have generated US$3.6B at the Box Office from a budget outlay of US$1.2B. Now 'Logan' is back in his final instalment (allegedly) and is once again Directed by James Mangold and this time on a US$97M budget in this third stand alone offering and the tenth film in the 'X-Men' franchise. Early reports have been very positive, with some saying it is the best 'X-Men' film to date, and so far the film has taken US$439M at the global Box Office.

Set in a near future world of 2029, where the mutant population is dwindling, with no new mutant births in over twenty years. With it Professor Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart) dreams of a brave new world featuring a new stage of mutant evolution, but those dreams have slowly died. James Howlett aka Logan aka Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) has settled into a life as a hard drinking limo driver somewhere on the Mexican border. He scrapes together a meagre living while hustling medication for an increasingly infirm and ageing Professor X whom he cares for in a ram shackle abandoned smelting plant shared with Caliban (Stephen Merchant) who also looks after and attends to the ailing Professor whose strong telepathic powers have now become unstable and unpredictable with his advancing years. Logan too is ageing and his powers aren't what they used to be, as the adamantium fused to his bones is slowly poisoning him and working against his healing powers. Caliban is an albino mutant who has the ability to sense and track other mutants, but is adverse to sunlight as it burns his fragile skin.

After some introductory scuffles in a car park where Logan's prized stretched limo is being carjacked by a bunch of heavies, Logan proves that he still has what it takes to dispense with pesky criminal types. A short time later we see him being approached by Gabriella (Elizabeth Rodriguez) a former nurse at Alkali-Transigen (a biotech company responsible for the Weapon X programme). She wants Logan to escort her and an eleven year old girl, Laura (Dafne Keen) across the border and over to a place in North Dakota called 'Eden'. She is prepared to pay and offer Logan US$20K cash up front with the balance of US$30K on safe delivery at the other end. Logan is very reluctant and refuses at first.

In the meantime Logan is tracked down by Donald Pierce (Boyd Holbrook), Transigen's relentless, calculating and cybernetically enhanced Head of Security, who seeks Logan's support in locating the young girl and returning her to Transigen. Logan refuses Pierce too.

After accepting the job from Gabriella, Logan finds her dead at their designated pick up point and no sign of Laura. Logan takes the cash anyway and disappears back to his secluded hideaway. Tending to an ailing Charles Xavier, they are interrupted by Pierce and his bunch of similarly cybernetically enhanced heavies, The Reavers. Laura appears having stowed away in the boot of Logan's limo, and disappears into the now long redundant smelting plant quickly followed by three Reavers. What follows is Laura proving who and what she really is - a mysterious young mutant who is very much like Logan, which is hardly surprising given that she was cloned from his blood, and using Logan's DNA Transigen weaponised clones of him. And so Laura quickly dispenses with the three goons, emerging carrying the head of one of those Reavers.

With Caliban captured, the three narrowly escape in Logan's limo leaving a trail of bloodshed, death and destruction in their wake. But Pierce, using Caliban's mutant tracking powers to follow them, is never far behind them. In a quiet moment, Logan and Xavier watch a video on Gabriella's phone showing that she hatched a plan to evacuate as many children out of the Tnansigen facility as she could, Laura included. They were breeding mutant children using DNA samples from several mutants, but as the children grew up and became stronger and more powerful, so they were increasingly harder to control. As that project became obsolete, so the order was given to terminate this children, hence the escape plan.

Taking the action to Oklahoma City en route to North Dakota, the three stop off at a hotel casino to freshen up, acquire a change of clothes and change their bullet hole ridden limo for a vehicle less obvious. There Logan finds one of Laura's comic books of the 'X-Men' and inside notices a reference to a safe haven for mutants known as 'Eden'. He deduces that no such place can exist as it is a place of fiction appearing in a common book and the work of someones imagination.

When returning from sourcing a new car, the Reavers and Pierce have caught up with the three mutants in the hotel, during which time Xavier suffers a seizure and telepathically freezes all those within the hotel casino and in the immediate vicinity. Logan is able to battle through Xaviers freezing seizure and inject him with a suppressant, but not before taking out all the gathered Reavers in the room where Xavier and Laura were being held.

While on the road having left the carnage of Oklahoma City behind them, they encounter a family on the highway who have a road traffic accident involving several horses they were carrying in a trailer behind. The threesome help by rounding up the horses, and out of gratitude the family invite them back to their homestead for dinner. Logan is keen to avoid this type of interaction, but is overruled by Xavier in favour of a comfortable charitable evening of home cooked food and a a warm welcome.

Logan and the husband of the family are distracted by a burst water main that take them off property to fix it. In the meantime, Pierce and his goons have caught up with the family and a real clone of Logan, X-24 (also played by Hugh Jackman in a younger version of himself) takes out the entire family and stabs Xavier through the chest inflicting life threatening wounds. Logan appears as X-24 is carrying off Laura heavily shackled. Logan and the feral clone of himself go head to head in an intense close quarter fight sequence, that sees the X-24 impaled on a combine harvester by the husband of the family who discovered his slaughtered wife and children, before succumbing to X-24's razor sharp claws himself.

Caliban meanwhile sacrifices himself by detonating two hand grenades in the back of the truck where he is being held captive by Pierce and Dr. Zander Rice (Richard E. Grant), the brains behind the Transigen projects, and whose father Logan killed when he escaped from the Weapon X programme at Alkali Lake.

Laura and Logan bury Xavier, and then Logan collapses exhausted. He wants to abandon the worthless trip to Eden, but Laura convinces him to see his commitment out. X-24 is far from dead meanwhile having been administered a regeneration serum to aid and speed up his healing process. Logan and Laura duly arrive at Eden and are greeted by the other escaped mutant children. Logan is nursed back to a degree of health through two days of almost solid sleep and small doses of a healing serum administered by one of the teenage children, Rictor (Jason Genao).

At this point Logan agrees to part company with the group of mutant children, and waking the next morning from his deep slumber he finds Eden deserted and the children gone. Through a telescope perched high in a look out he spies the Reavers in the forest in the distance in hot pursuit of the children. He has no alternative but to go to their aid. Gaining ground and in close proximity, Logan injects himself with an overdose of the healing serum which sends him into a rage, in which he quickly dispenses with many Reavers before the serum wears off. Leaving only Rice, Pierce, X-24 and a few remaining Reavers, the children use their combined powers to dispense with Pierce and the last of the Reavers. Logan shoots Rice and kills him, and then goes head to head with X-24 in a brutal bloody battle to the end.

The upshot of all of this, is that the mutant children make it to safety we have to assume as they cross the border in search of a new beginning, and those that will give them safe harbour.

The critics and the audiences have praised 'Logan' and deservedly so. This is not your usual run 'o' the mill Superhero movie. The performances from Jackman, Stewart and Keen especially are all first rate. Jackman portrays Logan as the broken, weakened, vulnerable ageing man - a shadow of his former cigar munching wise cracking invincible self that represents probably his best performance as Wolverine/Logan in his seventeen year run. Stewart too lets down his guard completely as an equally broken man no longer in control of his emotions or his senses, rambling on, unsteady on his feet, and devoid of any greatness that he portrayed in previous 'X-Men' instalments. And as for young Keen - she could turn on a dime from sweet innocent young girl to menacing strength and ruthless killer in a heartbeat, and delivers her role convincingly. The story is well conceived, brutally acted out with slice and dice action sequences that deliver a high body count but not in the traditional Superhero way, but in a more grounded realistic way, and decidedly more adult oriented fare that delivers on just about every level. Catch it on the big screen while you can - you won't be disappointed.

-Steve, at Odeon Online-

No comments:

Post a Comment

Odeon Online - please let me know your thoughts?