SUPERHERO MOVIES: Good, Bad & Elektra
By alicebg, Nov 15 2017 08:41PM
In this episode: Logan (2017)
The third and evidently final solo outing for Hugh Jackman's Wolverine (and his ninth incarnation of the part) is a distinct curiosity. Bloodthirsty and hyper-violent (way beyond anything seen in Wolverine or X-Men movies so far), it also rather lacks the critical human dimension that makes X-Men, and indeed other superhero films, so compelling. The other thing it lacks, fatally, is any kind of plot.
Set in a minimalist near-future where the only recognisable innovation is driverless trucks (which somehow manage to be more dangerous than conventional trucks), Logan paints a world where most mutants - and indeed other super-powered types - have been killed off. One survivor is Logan, aka Wolverine, but his healing powers are waning and thus his own skeleton (made of adamantium, in case you didn't know) is steadily poisoning him. Logan ekes out a living as a chauffeur (this is roughly akin to Wonder Woman working as a waitress), and tries to provide for one other surviving mutant - Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart). The former Professor X is steadily succumbing to Alzheimer's disease, not a happy prospect when he possesses the most powerful telepathic mind on Earth.
Logan's not-so-idyllic peace is shattered when he is presented with a new ward - the seemingly mute Laura (Dafne Keen). Far from an ordinary little girl, she is in fact fashioned from Logan's DNA as part of an illegal experiment to create super-soldiers - like her 'father' she has healing powers and comes fully equipped with adamantium skeleton and an extra set of claws (which we only get to see used once). To make matters more complicated, the deadly forces behind the experiment are hot on Laura's trail, and they have a force of nasty, enhanced-human 'Reavers' to reclaim her.
Let me outline right here one of the crucial logic flaws in the film's premise, that I haven't noticed pointed out anywhere amid the generally rave reviews. What, exactly, would be the point of lacing a small girl's skeleton with adamantium, given that she is still growing? Also, how are those foot claws supposed to work, given that there's no 'forearm' in which to store them?
Anyway, after all this actually rather promising initial set-up, the film very quickly bogs down into a violent parody of a road movie, with Logan and chums fleeing from the Nevada desert and heading north towards Canada and perceived sanctuary. Every so often the (terrifyingly inefficient) bad guys catch up to them, there's a fight, and they get away. This cycle is repeated so many times that one quickly loses interest - also, there's only so many times you can watch Hugh Jackman stab someone in the head before becoming utterly desensitised. The finale, apart from one moment of pure cool (involving a wooden cross) is merely bland, with its introduction of a dull cast of potential 'New Mutants'.
The lead players, especially Jackman and Stewart, give it their all, and Keen's contribution is impressive, but the film is too heavy-handed and its tone too relentlessly bleak to make the desired emotional impact. In terms of showing Wolverine in full-on 'berserker' mode for nigh on two hours, it's a fitting farewell; but in defiance of its title, Logan fails to get at the man behind the metal claws.