Logan

 

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Wolverine takes to the road, with Charles Xavier and an 11-year-old mutant girl in tow.

 
Logan
Road to perdition: A dotty Patrick Stewart
 

There are comic-book buffs who equate ‘darker’ with ‘better.’ Logan, reportedly the last in the Wolverine films, is not so much dark as downright grim. Logan himself (Hugh Jackman, for the seventh time) is now a shadow of his former self, a grumpy old man with a limp and an alcohol dependence who has been reduced to working as a limo driver. Then there’s the once magisterial Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart), now a dotty, decrepit old duffer in his nighties who is totally reliant on drugs. He and Logan hide out at a deserted smelting plant on the Mexican border, alongside the English mutant Caliban (Stephen Merchant), an albino particularly adverse to sunlight.

 

The year is 2029 and Logan routinely nips over to Texas for work, although there’s no sign of any Trumpian fortification. It’s in Texas that he is approached by a Mexican woman, who begs him to help her and her 11-year-old ward, Laura (Dafne Keen), get to North Dakota and supposed sanctuary. There are bad, bad men on the loose and Laura needs all the protection she can get, although she’s tougher than she looks…

 

Logan, directed by James Mangold from his own story, is an offshoot of the X-Men franchise, but in tone is unlike any other Marvel superhero movie before it. It’s more of an offbeat road movie with the bizarre spectacle of a hairy drunk, an old man in a wheelchair and a young girl along for the ride. There’s also a very high body count and the action scenes, when they come, are excessively violent. With the X-Men on the verge of extinction thanks to the manufacture of a virus masterminded by Richard E. Grant, there’s little optimism to go round. When Logan and Xavier watch an explanatory video on a mobile phone, the battery dies, and when Logan ploughs his limo through a barbed wire fence, the barrier stops his vehicle in its tracks. Indeed, nothing goes smoothly for the last of the mutant race, providing the film with an air of doom that is as engaging as a funeral mass. No doubt true X-Men devotees will find this all terribly brave and profound, but the pervading gloom and nastiness is unlikely to endear it to fans of Guardians of the Galaxy.

 

JAMES CAMERON-WILSON

 

Cast: Hugh Jackman, Patrick Stewart, Boyd Holbrook, Stephen Merchant, Richard E. Grant, Dafne Keen, Elizabeth Rodriguez, Eriq La Salle, Elise Neal.

 

Dir James Mangold, Pro Hutch Parker, Simon Kinberg and Lauren Shuler Donner, Screenplay Scott Frank, James Mangold and Michael Green, Ph John Mathieson, Pro Des François Audouy, Ed Michael McCusker, Music Marco Beltrami, Costumes Daniel Orlandi.

 

Marvel Entertainment/Kinberg Genre/Hutch Parker Entertainment/The Donners' Company-20th Century Fox.

137 mins. USA. 2017. Rel: 1 March 2017. Cert. 15.