Friday, March 3, 2017

Logan [2017]

MPAA (R)  CNS/USCCB (O) (3 1/2 Stars)  AVClub (A-)  Fr. Dennis (3 Stars)

IMDb listing
CNS/USCCB (J. Mulderig) review
Los Angeles Times (K. Turan) review (B. Tallerico) review
AVClub (A.A. Dowd) review

Logan [2017] (story and directed by James Mangold, screenplay by Scott Frank, James Mangold and Michael Green) could perhaps be called "The Passion of the Mutants."

Perhaps even more than with the other Marvel Comics franchises, the X-Men series seeks to play things completely straight.  It is simply assumed that "Mutants" with extraordinary abilities live among us (and are often persecuted by us for their  "Otherness" from us, even as the Mutants have their own conflicts within their ranks including the famous one between the more peace-making Professor Charles Francis Xavier (or Professor "X") [MC] [IMDb] (played here again by Patrick Stewart) and the more hardline "Mutant and Proud" Magneto [MC] (who does not appear in this film).

Since the X-Men Series _does try_ to "play things completely straight," THIS FILM touches on A FASCINATING QUESTION: What happens when EVEN "Mutants" (or Superheroes) GROW OLD?  AND AS IT'S WITH US, it's _not just_ that their bodies / abilities begin to fail, but even their "guide post belief structures" on which one previously could "hang one's hat" / define a good part of one's life seem to change, that is, "mutate" as well? 

So the film begins in the "near future" (2029) with a noticeably older, noticeably more _run down_ Logan (aka The Wolverine) (played again excellently throughout by Hugh Jackman), as _always_ "laying low" working as an utterly nondescript "Über-like" limo driver in the El Paso, Texas area.  Why THERE?  Well, some miles across the border, at a even more utterly nondescript abandoned factory out in the Desert, he and another Mutant named Caliban [MC] [IMDb] (played here by Stephen Merchant) are "caring for" an now nonogenarian (90+ year old) Professor "X" [MC] [IMDb] (played ever beautifully, even to Shakespearean levels of pathos by Patrick Stewart).

Again, WHY THERE?  Well Dear Readers, do remember that Professor X was famously a "telepath" (he could communicate with people / mutants often over great distances with his mind).  But NOW, in his 90s, HIS MIND IS FAILING HIM -- he has something akin of a Mutant cross between Alzheimers and Epilepsy.   Yet what mere human doctor could really understand his special condition and _special needs_?  So Logan and Caliban found a LARGE METAL CONTAINER (a huge knocked over former Water Tank) at that ABANDONED FACTORY IN THE DESERT that they converted into Professor X's "living quarters."  WHY THIS AS A QUITE _SPECIAL_ LIVING ARRANGEMENT?  Well he was a powerful telepath.  Now he has a combination of both Alzeimers and Epilepsy, and OUTSIDE OF THAT TANK / OFF HIS "MEDS" HE COULD HURT OTHERS WITH HIS (UNCONTROLLED) THOUGHTS / SEIZURES ;-).

And actually it's really "kinda nice" to see that LOGAN (aka THE WOLVERINE), who's NEVER been known in the X-Men world to be a particularly "caring" sort of a guy.  He's had a lot of issues with his seeming _immortality_ even as loved ones all around him seemed to be dying all the time.   And yet, here he finds himself helping "to care for" (sort of ... Caliban complains that _he's_ doing "most of the work" ;-) the again Professor X. 

Yet, of course, there are "other things" going on.  One is Professor X (and for that matter Logan / The Wolverine) is "kinda depressed" that whereas in the 1950s-1970s he was encountering ALL KINDS of MUTANTS all the time, it's been something like TWENTY YEARS since he's met his last "new" Mutant: Are we dying off?  Were _we_ (Mutants) just some special "flash in the pan"? both he and Logan wonder.

Well, it turns out ... no.  One day, one random day, in 2029, a woman named Gabriela (played by Elizabeth Rodriguez) comes frantically looking for Logan / The Wolverine with a "special cargo" -- a 12 year old Mexican "Mutant" girl named Laura (played wonderfully by Dafne Keen) who had been created as part of some crazy "super secret genetics experiment" (using, it clearly turns out, at least in part, Logan's DNA) at some clandestine laboratory somewhere near Mexico City.  Laura's life was now in danger and Gabriela asks Logan to help her get Laura "to Canada" (interestingly NOT simply to the UNITED STATES) to safety.

Logan's of course, reluctant, but the aging, now half-senile, but as always OPTIMISTIC Professor X, is HAPPY AS PIE.  He has a NEW Mutant to SHARE FOR _ONE LAST TIME_ HIS KNOWLEDGE / EXPERIENCES with.

Much adventure (and at times fairly violent mayhem) ensues ... 

IMHO it all plays out very interestingly, though I would caution Parents about the violence (and at times course language). 

There's a closing, quite provocative scene that COULD BE TAKEN as an INSULT by some Catholic / Christian viewers.  At the burial of one of the older Mutants (Logan or Professor X, I'm not going to reveal here which one ...) the younger Mutants (Laura and her other genetically engineered friends) PUT UP A MAKE-SHIFT CROSS (!) at the GRAVE'S HEAD.  I FOUND IT IMPRESSIVE THAT THE MUTANT CHILDREN DID THAT AT ALL.  At the end of their impromptu funeral for their deceased Mentor / Protector, as the other children were leaving, Laura piously turns the Cross to its side, so that it makes instead an "X."

Again, it's a provocative scene, BUT I DID ACTUALLY FIND IT RESPECTFUL.  Laura seemed to take the Cross and OWNING IT turned it into a SLIGHTLY DIFFERENT SYMBOL to which she identified (given her experience) somewhat more: Those older mutants _sacrificed themselves_ for her and her friends.  It's not _entirely_ a bad "transmutation" of a symbol (though of course, the adventures of the X-men, are _not_ exactly "a new Gospel")

In any case, as (presently) always, this Marvel Comics based movie left one with much to reflect on / think about. 

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