"Logan": A Genre's Return to Cinema
There’s a marked charm to having a superhero film where the heroes want simple stuff, like privacy when they pee, or a ride on a mechanical horse, or a comfortable bed. Or, in the case of Logan, for everything as we know it, to come to an end. Bryan Singer returned to the franchise in Days Of Future Past to correct its fractured timeline, and undo the damage wrought by The (abysmal) Last Stand. But even he couldn't keep its robustness going, and now, here's James Mangold, undoing his wrongs on Wolverine, and hitting reset on the franchise. Logan is so stripped down, its consciousness so present, its avoidance of hollowness so steadfast, that it wouldn't be enough to call it a classic superhero movie. This, friends, is simply a classic film. It's the sort of finale that should, if Hollywood would allow it, see its stars off into satisfied retirement, and into the genre’s annals.
Logan is set in 2029, in a world that isn’t entirely dystopian, but is damaged and askew. Mutants are virtually extinct, the X-Men are pretty much all deceased, save for a visibly spent and aged Logan, who lives in obscurity, working a regular job, sporting visible battle scars and a limp, and imbibing copious amounts of bourbon. He takes care of (now nonagenarian) Xavier assisted by the albino mutant tracker Caliban (played with surprising dexterity by Stephen Merchant). They are the collective dregs of society; hidden off, incapacitated and unapologetic about the versions of themselves they have become.
When a Mexican nurse and child approach him for help to transport them north to an unspecified safe haven, he attracts the attention of an almost predictable type of bad guy - a corporation that seems to want the complete end of mutants, but on its own sinister terms. It's the sort of villain you've seen in X-Men films past, but the charm of its lead henchman Pierce (Narcos' Boyd Holbrook), and the stakes of this new universe keep everything energised and engaging. The Wolverine will face enemies of a nature he hasn't experienced, and take on the sort of accomplice you wouldn't expect. This is a film whose dissonance you'll enjoy.
The Wolverine story has found its freedom. It is violent, brave and unhinged. That plastic blockbuster sheen is refreshingly absent. Years from now, Logan will need to receive the distinction it has earned, if only as evidence of the victory of guileless storytelling over corporate avarice. We hope that'll be its legacy. I hope we'll remember how it made us feel.
Because it's something mainstream films don't seem to make us do enough. Feel things.