Friday, March 3, 2017

‘Logan’ combines slicing, dicing with 11 year-old lethal mutant

By Steve Crum
Hollywood has come a long way in its portrayal of children. From the silents to early sound films, kids were treated cautiously, depicted as total innocents to be sheltered on-screen. Things gradually began to change over the decades. (I could write a thesis detailing such.) Now we have the action crammed Logan, featuring an 11 year-old girl who is essentially a killing machine. Combining these two blade runners, working side by side, is a recipe for stunts, special effects, and big box office.
In keeping with the very dark script by Scott Frank, director James Mangold and Michael Green, there is a tragic finale. (I am trying so hard to avoid giving away the multiple spoilers.) Fans of X-Men and Wolverine should be pleased, tearfully so. The action includes some of the best stunt work since 2015’s Mad Max: Fury Road
Hugh Jackman’s Logan/Wolverine character is definitely among the darkest in the Marvel Comics universe. But he is truly psychologically and physically down as the story opens in 2029 Texas. By this time, mutants have been outcast and mostly eliminated from USA society. No new mutants have been born for 20 years. Professor Xavier’s mansion school is long gone, and he is in hiding and poor health. Logan and mutant tracker Caliban (Stephen Merchant) continue to shelter the bedfast Prof. X (Patrick Stewart) in an abandoned warehouse. The two are essentially nursemaids. Logan works as a limo driver to make enough money for food and Xavier’s medications. Incidentally, Logan looks worn, acts gruff, and coughs a lot. His drinking problem does not help. 
Two events occur that change the trio’s fate. First, their hideout is discovered by the Reavers, a violent, anti-mutant organization headed by Donald Pierce (Boyd Holbrook). He’s the one with a robotic right arm and hand. About the same time, Logan is saddled with an 11 year-old girl, Laura Kinney (a stunning and charismatic Dafne Keen). Laura is aka X-23 because she is a DNA lab-created mutant. And guess whose DNA was used? Hint: Long blades protrude from her knuckles when she is angered. Go figure.
The chase begins with four on the run for their mutated lives—with Xavier popping sedative meds to avoid his highly dangerous seismic seizures. All this is enough to make a stressed out Wolverine ever so weary. But now he has a preteen ward who is a holy terror.
Director James Mangold has said that several classic movies influenced the making of Logan, including George Stevens’ Shane. That referencing should help clarify the scene featuring our central heroes on the lam in a motel room, watching Shane on TV. 
By end credits, heads have rolled—literally, thanks to both the old and young Wolverine duo. The Wolverine movies have always been filled with slicing and dicing, but Logan is double-blade lethal, resembling a Freddy Krueger slasher movie extravaganza. No wonder this is the first Wolverine film to warrant an “R” rating. 
Logan is the third and reportedly last Wolverine film, even though there are rumors Hugh Jackman might be featured in an upcoming Deadpool sequel. 
Keep those blades sharpened.

GRADE on an A-F Scale: B

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