Logan: A Film Review
**SPOILERS** This is a full film review assessing socio-cultural decisions made in the film. **SPOILERS** make up this entire review. The short of it is the film is excellent and worth seeing. The rest of this piece is devoted to discussing why it was excellent in explicit detail. **Read at your own risk.**
The opening choice to provide an actual year, namely 2029, moves from the original X-Men trilogy choice to open in “a not so distant future.” This choice frames the imminent feeling of doom pervading our country. It makes the young co-star of this story, Laura, born either this year or in 2016. The reality of border living in a post-Trump-election era is impossible to ignore and so we see it.
We watch as border crossing and old Westerns serve as a noble and dangerous quest. The earth-shaking reality in this story is the safe haven is not just over the Rio Grande (as a Texan even with it 450 miles away it is close) but through the midwest and in Canada. The haven of children who have been experimented on in Mexico City, treated like chattel and numbers, is not the United States. It is said over and again by Logan to Charles and in general, the world is not the same as it was before.
Amidst watching the film I began to note down sharp moments and mentions that made this world feel so lived in. X-Men films for me have always been so incredible because their character motivations and world issues are plucked from history book struggles. Poverty and living in hollowed out tin shacks seems desert-suitable but immediately proves unbearable when we see the Professor a shadow of his former self, locked away for “his own good” from the rest of the warm world he knew for so long.
The portrayal of Charles Xavier by Patrick Stewart is masterful and harrowing. Old age is not something we have previously been able to fully attribute to Xavier in the films, his invincibility is potent. This film focuses on mortality… and youth being the only hope to that mortality.
Logan walks through the last remaining corn-field of subsidized corn that has yet to fall to the super-strain of corporate wealth. The farmer has grown used to having his water shut off — this thing that in America today, in the wake of Flint and climate change, is looking less and less like a human right. The fight is tiring, but for the farmer and his soon slaughtered family it is worth it.
There have been many iterations of who Logan is and is not in the live-action film franchises since Hugh Jackman was cast. This film gives you satisfying quips, angry rages and a last minute grab for cigars, but its character depth is what makes it so brilliant. The dichotomies set up in the film are designed to exhibit character growth and they do so without feeling hokey or cliched.
Driving in the pick-up truck through the vast highways of middle (re: somewhere/nowhere) America are Logan and Laura. They are very different generations, speak two different native tongues, but carry a familiar rage within them. The bond they share is protectiveness of others, Logan’s of his great mentor (whom he always feels he has failed) and Laura’s of her fellow captives who are on the run.
In this film a young Mexican girl struggles to speak, not because she has nothing to say, but because she has no one to hear her. The week or so that Logan and Laura spend together provide her with an outlet for her rage, but also an opportunity to be seen for more than her super-weapon status. The turning point in their interactions for me, though each are sparse is in their discussion of nightmares.
Laura notes that Logan must be experiencing a nightmare and says that hers are of when “people hurt me.” For Logan the opposite is true, he tells her wryly. “Mine are different. I hurt people.” His hardened self is something he tries to offer her and though barely doing so, she comes later to learn from it.
In just under two and a half hours Logan addresses immigration, refugees, biomedical warfare, ageism, climate change, water rights, racism, degenerative diseases, mental health and theft for survival. It could have lacked any mutant powers and still made a compelling story and in being that it shows us what superhero films can be.