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Logan (2017)

Dr Alex Tang

 

Movie Review Logan (2017)

[warning! This review contains spoilers]

Hugh Jackman set a new record of playing the Wolverine in 9 movies. This the record for a single actor to play a single role for so long. Alas, it seems the record is going to stop here. But then in Hollywood, one can never say ‘ never again’. Still, I still wish Hugh Jackman is shorter and hairier because that is how I still visualise the Wolverine.

The movie takes place in 2029. Due to the transigen virus created by Dr Zander Rice, mutants are sterile and are unable to have offsprings. Mutant kind is slowly dying off. The rest are old like Professor Charles Xavier and James Howlett/Logan/Wolverine. Charles has Alzheimer's and Logan is slowly dying of adamantium poisoning. With the eventual extinct of mutants, Rice started creating clones of certain mutants for their eventual use as the ultimate soldiers. All these clones are children. As expected, Rice created Laura/X23 a clone of Logan with adamantium claws on her hands. She also has a claw that extends out from her foot. What is not explained in the movie is how a clone of a male, Logan, is  female! When Rice succeeded in cloning an adult Logan/X24, he decided that he no longer needed the children and decided to kill them. The children learnt of this and escaped, going to a place in North Dakota called Eden which they have read from a comic book. Yes, the children are reading The Uncanny X-Men. From there, they will cross the border into Canada where they will be safe. Rice had a paramilitary force called Reavers and mutant Caliban (with the gift of tracking mutants) at his command. Charles and Logan decided to bring young Laura to North Dakota.

There is a scene where Charles, Logan and Laura were in a hotel. The television was showing the movie 1953 Shane. In the movie, Shane tells young Joey just before he rides off, fatally wounded.

“A man has to be what he is, Joey. You can't break the mould. I tried it and it didn't work for me. Joey, there's no living with, with a killing. There's no going back from it. Right or wrong, it's a brand, a brand that sticks. There's no going back. Now you run on home to your mother and tell her, tell her everything's alright, and there aren't any more guns in the valley.”

The question being asked is do people change? What does it take for a person to act contrarily to who they are? Charles with his telepathic power was acknowledged to be the most powerful mutant alive. All his life, he devoted his life to peace and nurture of life. With Alzheimer's Disease, he became prone to seizures. In one of these seizures in Westchester where his school was, he killed 600 persons and his X-Men! Logan had to confine Charles to a steel container and continually sedate him. In a lucid moment, Charles realises what he has done. His greatest gift and asset has become a weapon of mass destruction! For Charles, a man of peace, taking all these lives must have been an abyss from which there is no return. All the good he has done and stood for wiped away by an involuntary act by his powerful mind. There did not seem to be any redemption for Charles as he was killed by an act of senseless violence when the clone Logan/X24 stabbed him to death.

Logan, in the Marvel Universe, was a berserker. He was more beast than man and that was why he was chosen for the Weapon X program. With his unbreakable adamantium skeleton, his feral rages and incredible healing power, he is the perfect weapon. Logan has always been searching for the goodness in his humanity. Yet, every time when he almost grasps this goodness, he was dragged into another orgy of violence and gory death. Logan said, “Nature made me a freak. Man made me a weapon. And God made it last too long”. Logan is now old. The adamantium in his bones is poisoning and killing him. He is weak. In one scene, one of his claws did not extend and when he pulled it out, a gust of pus followed. He was reluctant to help or even acknowledge Laura/X-23 as his daughter. Unlike earlier movies, Logan never tried to seek redemption in what he does. He seemed to accept that he is a broken man that cannot be fixed. Redemption for him is to die. In the final battle, he took on the Reavers and his own younger clone X-24 leading to his own death. Impaled on a piece of wood, his healing power unable to cope and as he felt life slipping away, he sighed his last words: “So, this is what it feels like.”

This is a powerful but disturbing movie about the death of two most beloved characters in the Marvel Extended Universe. In a way, they are both sides of the same coin. Professor Charles Xavier stood for peace, order, tolerance and logic. Logan was the opposite with his feral rage, anger and violence. To Logan killing is “what he does best and he is the best at what he does”. Yet at the end of their long life, they seem to have switched places. Charles became the killer while Logan is the saviour. This is disturbing because we do not know how our lives will end. Will a lifetime of good works be destroyed by a single violent act? Will Alzheimer's change the ‘brand’ in our brain as referred to by Alan Ladd in Shane, making us someone else? Is death the final act of redemption? This is the most provoking movie in the Wolverine and X-Men series. The others are mainly CG and violence with hardly a storyline. May this be the start of more thought-provoking movies from Marvel.

The Wolverine is dead on both the big screen and the comic books. May he rest in peace and never come back.

 

16 March 2017

 

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