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*Note: some minor spoilers for the movie ahead.*
The X-Men movie franchise was my high school sweetheart. That’s right, instead of walking away from my awkward teenage years with the one-of-a-kind love I’d hoped and prayed for, I walked away with a confusing, up-and-down, on-and-off love affair with a rag-tag band of mutants. And even though they’ve been yanking my chain for going on 17 years now, I can’t seem to walk away.
Never has a franchise had me in two minds to such an extent as this one. The original X-Men film in 2000 was a smash – seeing Rogue and Wolverine in the flesh was like experiencing my very first orgasm – it was indescribable, and came with such intense build-up and cathartic release that I was left yearning for more.
But then the series became unpredictable. That third X-Men movie should bear the same He-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named warning as Harry Potter’s super villain. Just when I thought X-Men: First Class and Days of Future Past were on the right track, the filmmakers ruined it with a GQ-model shoot featuring empty-headed villains and non-aging protagonists that they packaged into a film and called Apocalypse.
I’m not sure what it is about the “thirds” in a series, but somehow X-Men’s writers seem to contract a serious case of the TERRIBLE DISEASE when they try and pen a trilogy’s wrap-up.
I share this backstory with you because I feel the need to explain why I thought Logan was going to be absolutely awful. First there was my Pavolovian training as detailed above, and then there was the sad-sack, sob story, moody trailer that tried to position what has previously been a high-energy, action-driven franchise into a deep, dark, emotion piece. I wasn’t buying it.
Of course, sometimes miracles do happen, and although it pains me to publicly admit I was wrong, I was. Despite the eerily reminiscent Iron Man 3 tones (sad, beaten-down superhero grapples with morality and dives into depression, only to be charmed by the innocence and hope of a child) and the “man-discovers-he-fathered-a-child-he-didn’t-know-about-and-hates-her-but-then-realizes-he-loves-her” trope, I quite enjoyed the film.
Let’s start with the basic premise: It’s the year 2029 and mutants haven’t been born in…well, a while (why, we don’t know, as it’s never explained). Somehow (again without explanation) all of the mutants have died off, and we’re left with an old, aging Logan (poisoned by some unknown), a senile Professor X (who’s in hiding in the desert) and Caliban (you’ll remember him as the somewhat-creepy, bald albino dude from Apocalypse).
In the wake of the end of mutant-kind, Logan’s taken up work as a for-hire limousine driver and part-time Professor X nanny, bringing him supplies of medication that suppress some earthquake-inducing, paralyzing-to-any-people-within-range seizures he’s been suffering from.
One day while working a funeral, Logan is suddenly recognized as Wolverine by a seemingly random lady called Gabriella, who later stalks him, bribes him with a stack of cash and becomes the film’s core plot delivery vehicle.
Here’s the scoop: a medical research company called Transigen is secretly using the genetics of mutants and the bellies of unsuspecting girls to factory-breed new mini mutants. Gabriella, a nurse at the facility charged with taking care of the minis, discovers that the children are actually being bred to be super soldiers, only they’re being executed one-by-one because the scientists are discovering they can’t control the kids’ powers. Gabriella and the other nurses aren’t cool with this and devise a plot to help the children escape, with the goal of heading to a “safe house” of sorts across the Canadian border. Naturally, in the chaos of the escape, the parties are separated and she’s left safeguarding just one of the children, Laura.
Laura is like Eleven from Stranger Things, but with hair. She’s mute, moody and has big brown eyes that pierce your soul. Oh, and she’s also a mutant with dual-adamantium claws like Wolverine, and a pair that shoot out of her feet (pretty awesome, although I don’t know how she manages to not continuously ruin her shoes). She may be small, but she’s fierce, and she leaps, slashes and snikts without hesitation.
Of course, Laura is now being hunted by the agency from which she’s escaped, and so it becomes Logan’s mission (thrust upon him by Professor X) to drive up through the desert towns of middle America and deliver her to freedom before the bad guys can capture her. And oh yeah, Logan, she’s actually your daughter…surprise!
The middle hour-and-a-half of the movie wanders a bit, as the trio move from town to town, trying to get Laura to “Eden” where she’ll supposedly be safe from these bad guys who inexplicably can’t cross the US-Canadian border. There’s just the right mix of comic relief, action scenes featuring self-driving trucks on a highway (yes, that really happens…it’s 2029, remember?), and nausea-inducing climaxes featuring Oklahoma casinos.
I’ll refrain from spoiling the ending, but I’ll tell you that the payoff is pretty satisfying, and the woman sitting in front of me legit cried (I came close, but that’s because I have deeply ingrained daddy issues).
Sure, the movie was a bit long and left more open questions than it delivered answers for, but I must admit that I felt pretty captivated by the storyline, appreciated the writer’s attempt to provide additional emotional depth to the characters and thought the action sequences were pretty sweet. The film has a strong undercurrent of redemption and self-sacrifice, which I guess you could say isn’t incredibly unusual for a superhero film, but for some reason it felt more poignant and appropriate in its execution here.
I’ll miss seeing Hugh Jackman as the Wolverine (and that shouldn’t be a spoiler, as it’s been widely announced he’s moving on), and that’s not just because he’s a hot piece of ass and apparently a really nice guy IRL. I’ll miss him because unlike a lot of the other X-Men actors, Hugh has managed to develop a character that is so emotionally nuanced that he seems one step away from jumping off the screen and meeting me in a dark bar: a grumpy, conflicted man drinking a beer and harboring one hell of a secret.
Logan will be released on March 3rd
Gabrielle (Gabby) Bill is a full-time career coach, part-time marketing consultant, writer at Beauty Babble and Career & The City, and wannabe group fitness instructor (did we also mention, she’s clearly a masochist?). When she’s not working one of her ten jobs or penning a blog post, you can find Gabby snuggling up with her two Chihuahuas, Bailey and Bella, reading a good book or watching the latest nerd movie/TV show. She’s also obsessed with Tom Hiddleston (but who isn’t?)