The year is 2029 and old man Logan (Hugh Jackman) has aged a lot, what with his regenerative capabilities faltering through the decades. Retired and working as a limousine chauffeur in El Paso to make ends meet, he strives to earn enough money so he can take a now senile and uncooperative Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart) with him to a more tranquil life at sea. Mutants have since been an afterthought, but that will change with the arrival of Laura Kinney (Dafne Keen) AKA X-23, a kid born as an experiment at Transigen labs in Mexico City along with other mutant children being raised as weapons. Developed with Logan’s DNA, she is biologically his child. Hesitant, he heeds Xavier’s advice of taking her with him in search for Eden, a mutant sanctuary in North Dakota where she believes her friends have been whisked off to safety. However, such a task will not be easy with the persistent pursuit of Donald Pierce (Boyd Holbrook), the enemy leader who will stop at nothing to recapture their investment.
Logan differs from all of the other films in the franchise because of its subject matter. Every time we see a movie about superheroes, the focus is on how great they are or how they cope with alienation because they are special. After all the hardships are faced and battles are fought, we see a triumphant band of friends who won against all odds. You will not see that here. Instead, we are presented with a narrative with treatment so crude and raw, it comes off as poignant most of the time.
Both Wolverine and Xavier have been integral parts of the X-Men franchise that Fox currently owns, the former even rumored to have appeared in all of their movies. It’s been seventeen years since the first film came out, and perhaps there is no better time to retire than today. The story reverberates in a gloomy kind of way, making you feel as though it’s the end of an era and you are not sure how to react. As the new generation of mutants are introduced in the new timeline as seen in X-Men: Apocalypse, maybe this is indeed goodbye. Mangold couldn’t have bid adieu with more tears and separation anxiety than what he does here to these two beloved mutants.
The role of X-23 could have been effortlessly portrayed by the likes of Millie Bobby Brown of Stranger Things fame, but Keen is also so effective in the role that you’ll end up wanting a face-off between these two super powered girls. Keen’s Laura benefits from a good mix of the fierce and the feral, in every way Wolverine was during his heydays. Even more brutal, perhaps? She is a fighting machine that can take down a squad all on her own, and that’s one of the factors that makes everything so nostalgic and touching. On one hand, it’s like viewing Wolverine’s evolution throughout his career with Fox, as seen from the perspective of the wild youngster vis-à-vis the old man who now knows better. It is that fatherhood angle that will surely tug your heartstrings.
The film did not receive an R rating for nothing. With blood and gore abound, they clearly took no prisoners here. Even the language is derogatory, with both Wolverine and Xavier dropping expletives like there’s no tomorrow. It can be quite offsetting given how polished and polite Stewart as Professor X has always been, but that further reminds you how far along this subplot is if you take each and every installment they have had in the last decade or so. You somehow get mixed emotions because you are not sure if you want that cinematic X-Men of your generation to finally be put to rest. On the other hand, it seems relieving because it feels like the culmination of a big project that played a big role in your growing up years.
There have been rumors about a Wolverine/Deadpool crossover. We don’t really know how they will be able to pull that off if it pushes through. It would be fun to see the two characters together, but Jackman looks exhausted. Maybe it’s time to pass on the role to a younger actor. In a way, that’s what they already did in this film, with X-23 probably taking over Wolverine’s role if ever they end up allowing her to appear in future sequels of the new X-Men timeline.