You know things aren’t going well for mutants when Wolverine essentially becomes a glorified Uber driver. Fair warning, though, he is extremely protective of his car, so if you happen to see someone named Logan pop up on your Uber app after a “fun” weekend night, do not take that ride. He will impale you in six different places if you barf. But not only are things going terribly for mutan-ity (?), it is even worse for Logan because aside from losing his healing powers and having to wear a tux, the same guy who caught Pablo Escobar is now chasing him. Oh, and Fed-Ex has a new consignment for him: he must deliver an 11-year old package/killing machine/holy-shit-she’s-a-mini-Wolverine across international borders, one of which belong to the US. If you’re quiet, you can basically hear the plans for a new wall being contrived somewhere in the District of Columbia. Okay, now, in an attempt to maintain my friendships and yet write such click-baity reviews, to those who haven’t read any of my reviews before (AKA not my real friends): I shall try to avoid dropping any spoilers in the course of this review, but that is not to say that I will try especially hard.
“Nature made me a freak. Man made me a weapon. And God made it last too long.”
Let me just begin (the second paragraph) by saying that Logan was an absolutely brilliant and well-made movie. Despite my perennial vendetta against math, numbers do not lie here and the fact that the movie was the second-highest grossing film of the year, it is probably a pretty safe bet to assume that this was quite a movie. And whisper it, but an Oscar nomination might be in the offing, although I’m not sure if immigrants (even while white) will be qualified for Best Actor by the time the next show comes to town. Kidding aside, Logan brought to the superhero genre a grounded emotionality that occasionally drowns amongst all the punches and kicks and guns in many superhero flicks. The movie wasn’t about getting the baddie so much as it was about struggle. Wolverine has issues with his failing healing powers and his all-too macho desire to not go to the doctor (but, seemingly, an apple might fix all that). Charles Xavier, now 92 and a considerably more malnourished version of someone we knew as Sir Patrick Stewart, seems to be having the same problems that mutant-puberty causes: not being able to control his powers; either they respond all to effectively and virtually freeze the world or they don’t reply at all. Kinda like those friends who will unload upon you about their problems but ask them if they’re going out tonight and they will respond tomorrow with “Dude, I’m so hungover rn.” But seriously, people, are we surprised that a person who heard more than one voice in his head is now losing his mind? If you ask me, it’s only a matter of time before Randy Orton faces similar issues.
Before we move on, I just want to talk about how mind-blowing Dafne Keen’s performance in the movie was. Jackman and Stewart have raved about how wonderful it was to be given the chance to act with her, but I feel the need to acknowledge her acting here as well. It is, by no metric, enough to be the cute little kid in a movie these days; you have to act to a certain standard. Sure, the cuteness contributed but it is worth noting that in recent months, her and Sunny Pawar’s performances have been on-point and absolutely riveting. For most of the movie, she does not have a dialogue in English (because of course, speaking only Spanish in America makes no one doubt that you’re undocumented) but despite that, the poise with which she takes on the role of beta-Wolverine 2.0 is marvelous. An unmitigated killing machine at times, showing emotion only toward her caretaker, Xavier and Wolverine at times and to add to all that, the factor that she was supposed to be an individual brought up completely in captivity, she wowed audiences across the globe with her on-screen performance. There was a definite balance between the different parts that contribute to her identity, a consistent depiction of her identity and thought as she evolved throughout the movie and the visceral wildness that shone through her when she was attacking someone was astounding. It felt so real that this author was actually forced to think about whether he wanted to ever have children.
“Two days on the road, only one meal, and hardly any sleep. She’s 11, I’m fucking 90…”
There is much to be said about the other cast as well. Stephen Merchant, a comedian by trade (creator of the The Office), was cast as Caliban (I see what you did there, sweet wordplay. Also, he eventually blows himself up…), the weird Voldemort look-alike mutant with a sense of humour who takes care of Charles when Wolverine is ranting about his problems to people he Ubers around. Yes, he eventually helps the bad people, only under torture though (which is exposure to sunlight. Thankfully, though, this does not signal a coming-together of the X-Men franchise and Twilight), but eventually sacrifices himself in the most Bruce Willis way possible, essentially yelling “Yippie ki yay, motherfucker” as he blows himself and the bad people’s van up. One should also not fail to mention Boyd Holbrook who plays the role of Wolverine-fanboy, Wolverine-hunter and semi-cyborg. His character, Donald Pierce, has an artificial arm that gives that part super strength and everything. But watching him, I just kept wondering, does he take it off when he goes to bed at night? But, clearly, Holbrook does a fantastic job playing the undeterred, intense and bordering-on-psychotic villain. So well, in fact, that it makes you wonder if Holbrook is a sort of a method actor. I mean, for his preparation for the role, it seemed like he hadn’t brushed his teeth for weeks, so there might be something there.
The key tenet for this movie, in my opinion, is the chemistry between Charles Xavier and Logan, himself. At least up until Xavier dies (major spoiler!). From the beginning and through their travels, one can see that there exists a bond between the two. Aside from the fact that Wolverine is taking of him, of course. There is witty banter, emotional and honest conversation and a kind of bond that is perhaps only born from a certain kind of bromance. An intense bromance, too, I mean, what with Wolverine carrying Xavier to the toilet and everything; clearly normal social boundaries are flouted and eschewed here. All in all, beyond all the flashy whizz-bangs and the claws and punches, such kind of emotional maturity and intensity that tends to take away from most superhero films is seen here. The all-too rare snatches of Logan having emotions are not only stretched into wider bands but they are also dissected. The movie documents his sense of attachments with Xavier and Laura, and how it changes given the experiences they go through together. Visceral and in your face with the action and the explicitness, the movie is also brightly-coloured with the paints of feeling. In a movie that has two and a half Wolverines (one works for Uber, the other is bat-shit-crazy and the little girl), a guy who used to read minds but is now losing his own (lol) and a perennial car-chase through America, the flick risks being too over-the-top, but the emotionality is what grounds it and gives all these fantastical characters a relatable and human touch. Witty remarks, strange quirks and a time-freezing brain explosion are just mere icings on the top. A kid would love the movie because of all the action and the other kids being little heroes. As an adult (technically, not mentally), in all honesty, spending the money to go out and watch superheroes battle it out has never felt better.
“Don’t be what they’ve made you.”