All posts by Roger Cerqua

LOGAN REVIEW: Means to an End

BEWARE, SPOILERS AHEAD!
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The year is 2029 (a post Trump era), and the U.S of A that once was, is now controlled by international superpowers that have created divisions within our homeland, a new American way.  We open to what writer James Mangold has envisioned Logan to be, best described in a quote from Christopher Nolan’s ‘INCEPTION’ – “an old man filled with regret waiting to die alone.”  Who’s masking his dark and violent past as a personal limo driver.  Logan, conceived by Hugh Jackman, and written by James Mangold with assistance from Scott Frank and Michael Green, presents us with a film that tackles today’s issues within policies and politics along with what is considered to be humane and inhumane.  Like the X-Men comics of the past, certain issues such as immigration, animal rights (P.E.T.A), racial violence, make a small appearance that continues to progress into our thoughts far after the film ends, but more importantly Logan’s true message is about belief, hope, family, overcoming division, and most importantly confronting one’s self.

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Hunted, and nearing extinction, mutants are virtually “no more” and due to “The Westchester Incident” neither are The X-Men, it’s lightly teased and never seen, so only those who really think on it will comprehend.  The last known survivors (a trio of familiar faces) have found refuge at an abandoned refinery, a wasteland-esque home that borders a southern state near Mexico. Something only ‘MAD MAX’ would be proud of. Logan, Professor X, and Caliban, with their limited resources have learned to cherish the different elements of life, whether its caring for plants, being a caregiver, or even serving as a blue collar worker that brings home money to provide for his family.  After all, Professor X and Caliban have become through moral responsibility the family that Logan never truly had. Logan played by Hugh Jackman reprises the famous role that he has embodied for the past 17 years in what will be his final film as the iconic character.  He delivers without question the “G.O.A.T” interpretation of Logan.  We are presented with a Logan who is broken and no longer the engine that once could.  His abilities are drying out.  He’s rusty, limping,  and rife with sickness that has taken control of his body that once could heal from anything, but never a broken heart.

Given his state of depression and methods of coping with it, Logan carries an adamantium bullet, the same material he’s made out of, that is also believed to be killing him through poisoning.  The bullet itself has always served a purpose, far before the opening moments of this film.  It was a reminder to what Logan’s life truly is, expendable.  Accompanying the masterful performance, long time mentor and fatherly friend Charles Xavier/Professor X (Sir. Patrick Stewart) has once again delivered what I believe is the most realistic performance in this film, one that constantly strikes us in the heart at all times, especially the level of comedic timing and leadership you could expect from your elderly family members.  At this point Charles Xavier, at the age of 90 is suffering from an illness of his own.

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Given his telepathic powers, he is deteriorating mentally, spiraling into dementia and suffering from seizures that’s now classified by the government as a weapon of mass destruction. Think of the most powerful and advanced brain in human existence, now unstable.  Imagine the guy who could do this:

Going Nuclear.

The last of the trio, we are introduced to the tracking mutant Caliban (Stephen Merchant) who is Professor X’s reluctant caregiver and eyes.   With Merchant’s acting background, we are gifted with a more serious role and at times refreshed with Merchant’s flawless comedic range.  Caliban essentially in short, is what bridged Charles and Logan’s father and son relationship in their last film together at 20th Century Fox.

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“Just when I thought I was out, they pulled me back in” – (The Godfather 3) and that’s exactly what happened to one of Marvel’s most groundbreaking characters, Logan.  An idea very similar to the “Transporter” this movie takes us on a road trip worth remembering all the way to North Dakota.  Accepting one last job in order to purchase a dream that Charles and Logan had envisioned together, we are introduced to Gabriella (Elizabeth Rodriguez) a nurse who mothered X-23.  With a brief but important introduction, we’re brought inside a manufacturing plant, that Gabriella had captured guerrilla style, provoking the idea of animal rights activism, along the lines of P.E.T.A (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals).

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Transigen, the facility that’s experimenting with former mutant DNA, producing “New Mutants” (not quoted as such in the film, but it’s pretty on the nose set up for the upcoming future X-Men property) not unlike the way that majority of our livestock is created today, scientifically enhanced and not organic. Living in cages like animals, these “New Mutants” are genetically created and enhanced by Dr. Xander Rice (Richard E. Grant) whose sole purpose is to create and control, for warfare purposes.

His character is similar to the scientist that’s seen in Stranger Things, with very similar agendas.  Shortly after becoming Logan’s responsibility, Laura Kinney, aka X-23 (Dafne Keen) whose character comes off as adorably brash,

until she gets angry,

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delivers a mostly silent but emotional role, and is essentially the centerpiece to what may come in future X-Men movies. After all, the future of the world is instilled into our children.

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The second act is pretty much Mangold’s resurrection of what I believe happens to be everyone’s favorite childhood game, “Oregon’s Trail.”  In the game, the inevitable happens and harsh realities surface.  Here that’s exactly what we expected to happen along their journey to North Dakota, where coordinates from an old X-Men comic book

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become a central point that Laura, and the surviving “New Mutants” have secretly discussed among themselves to meet and act as a safe haven.  In the X-Men comic, it was known as Eden.  Along the way, the Munson family, take in the trio, Charles, Logan, and Laura for the night.  It’s here we get the sense of family and the values that bind them.  For the first time in a LONG time they’re provided with respectable rooms, beds and a roof, unlike before where Charles had been confined within a water tower on a hospital bed, which at a certain point reminded me of a counter-part to cerebro from past X-Men films, meant to suppress Xavier’s power.  Having dinner with the Munsons is this film’s nod to da Vinci’s “The Last supper” painting where dinner, wine, laughter, smiles, love, engulfed the surrounding disciples around the table and their teacher.  We revisit an issue, where race once again strikes an innocent family just trying to live a peaceful and honorable life among the owners (Canewood International Beverage) of not only the corn field but possibly the state that they are in.  In my opinion, Mark Millar’s “venom symbiote-infused dinosaur” (Old Man Logan) is seen and represented by two self farming machines, harvesting corn, which is left for interpretation for comic book enthusiast to decipher. Returning to the Munson’s home we encounter Reavers (mercenaries) lead by Donald Pierce (Boyd Holbrook) whose character is a vicious southern hillbilly cyborg.  It would’ve been great to see more of his character’s past, and I theorize that his bionic arm is of Trask Industries (X-Men: Days of Future Past).  It’s here where the film slightly derails, where we’re introduced to Dr. Rice’s perfect creation, X-24, the direct clone of Logan.

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Considering this was Hugh Jackman’s last film as Logan, I was expecting more than a clone of himself as the great adversary, leaving me unimpressed.  The end of the second part crossed us with emotional loss accumulated after 17 years of wheeling adventure, the message was clear and precise, this movie was all about family relationships, from struggles to restful peace aboard the sun seeker.

The third and final act, at certain points, felt as if scenes where roughly stitched together, almost ice like when it should be water.  On the contrary, the once father and son relationship that we saw between Logan and Charles, has been reinvented with a father and daughter relationship.  Laura, not just any ordinary mutant, is Logan’s daughter.  This gave the film a new meaning, that connected us once again to our everyday lives.  As much as we work everyday for ourselves, it’s always in favor for the younger generation that carry our blood, for their continued success. Finally we arrive, North Dakota, Eden, where these “New Mutants”have taken refuge.  Preparing for the cross into Canada where Logan’s story all began, these wounds he’s suffering from are far too deep to carry on, but with salvaged resources from Transigen, and a lot of hope, the journey continues.  As the kids are ambushed by Dr. Rice, Donald, the Reavers and more importantly X-24, we are re-ignited with the screams of the Wolverine, berserker rage, with the added help of a mutant medication, severing Reavers limbs on his way to saving the children and his daughter.  For some odd reason, the scenes in the woods reminded me of Hook, an R rated version where the children came together to aid Pan, and defeat the dreadful Hook.  As I mentioned previously about the villain, I just wasn’t sold on a Wolverine clone for Hugh Jackman’s final outing.  In the least I had hoped that they could’ve dressed X-24 in the classic iconic costume as a nod,

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and for a moment I truly believed the writers and 20th Century Fox had let me, us, comic book fans down.  But soon enough I found myself bowing down to Mangold, seeing that this indeed is the perfect send off villain for Hugh Jackman, which is Wolverine, Logan, James Howlett, Weapon X, ultimately himself.  It was a direct reflection of the character, from all the previous films.  This was the battle he had been fighting everyday, and X-24 does the job the bullet was meant to do.  This closure would give meaning to Logan, his battle against all of his fears.  When your child calls you “Daddy” your life, it’s meaning, there is no need for anything more.

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All in all,  after an action packed blood bath, and no longer restricted by a PG-13 rating, we are gifted with an R rated film that in fact brings the blood, the violence, and the true grit of the character. It’s just a pity that it has taken this long, considering how good and different the movie is.

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We end on what the film ends on, a quote from 1953’s western, “SHANE” which perfectly encapsulates Logan as Shane.

Joey, there’s no living with… with a killing. There’s no going back from one. Right or wrong, it’s a brand. A brand sticks. There’s no going back. Now you run on home to your mother, and tell her… tell her everything’s all right. And there aren’t any more guns in the valley.”