10-16 March 2017 #849

Logan

As with most films that are this apocalyptic, the nature of it is deeply self-indulgent and overly gloomy
Sophia Pande

If you are a fan of the Wolverine as played by Hugh Jackman over the last 17 years, then Logan, which is the given name of this X-Men superhero, is not your film. Grim, sometimes beautiful, but mostly just painful, this last installment is the story of the demise of a great hero, and it is heartbreaking.

Based on a graphic novel called Old Man Logan by Mike Millar and Steve McNiven, the film is adapted and directed by James Mangold, who clearly felt an affinity for a story about an ageing, dying Wolverine. Unfortunately, as with most films that are this apocalyptic, the nature of it is deeply self-indulgent, overly gloomy and with none of the biting humour and almost hidden tenderness that Hugh Jackman nuanced his character with, making the prickly, quick to pounce Wolverine so beloved.

Set in 2029, the film tells the story of a world without mutants, where an evil corporation called, cleverly or not so cleverly I still can’t decide, Transigen has created a virus released into the drinking water, wiping out the mutant gene. Not so originally, Transigen is also now creating made to order mutant soldiers with special powers, resulting in their experimentation on human embryos, a horrifying transgression that causes them to incarcerate their growing subjects: little children who have been experimented on with an end to making them killing machines. Patrick Stewart reprises his role from earlier X-Men films as Charles Xavier, but, here too, the man is so altered as to barely represent the wheelchair bound free-thinker who warmed the heart of previous films.

It is astonishing to this reviewer that a film with two of the most loved characters in comic lore can have iterated into such a morose piece of cinema, one that makes you wince more than you breathe.

I will admit that watching the film in the cinema with fairly severe lower back pain compounded by excessive and also seemingly arbitrary screen blackouts from the Censor Board of Nepal (during crucial parts) did not improve my viewing experience. Why not just impose an age limit instead of massacring a film in such a hideous manner? I am also a bit suspicious that this film is one of those not so funny bro-pics that make directors like Mangold feel, well, manly as they plot the torture and demise of a screen legend.

If you think that I have given everything away, I really haven’t, there are entire, compelling, new characters that originate in this film, possibly being set up for sequels as we speak, but if telling you that this film harks the death of Wolverine seems a spoiler, take a beat and think about what it means these days to say that this is (really) the end of Hugh Jackman’s tenure playing a character that made him famous but also probably made him millions.

Watch trailer:

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