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Claws for thought as Wolverine returns in Logan

Hugh Jackman's mutant good guy avoids super-hero pitfalls in an enjoyable return as Wolverine

02 March, 2017 — By Dan Carrier

Dafne Keen and Hugh Jackman in Logan

LOGAN
Directed by James Mangold
Certificate 15
☆☆☆☆

HUGH Jackman’s Wolverine is the most solid of characters from the X-Men franchise. Hard as nails both physically and mentally, his is a complicated figure in the Marvel universe, someone who you sense can carry a film on their own, way more comfortably than some of his comic-book peers.

So perhaps it is no surprise that the latest in the franchise focuses on what happens next to Wolverine, aka Logan (Jackman), and in this fantastic, dark, surprising instalment we learn the mutant good guy has a fairly odd job to put food on the table.

Living in a compound in Mexico where he is nursing the sickly Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart), helped by sun-avoider Caliban (Stephen Merchant), he drives a stretch limo. He’s like a posh Uber driver, with the goal of raising enough capital to buy a Sun Seeker yacht and take to the high seas, leaving their X-Men lives and troubles behind them.

But while Wolverine reserves his claws for digging into people who try to nick his hub caps, the action kicks off pretty quickly when he is approached by a woman claiming only he can help her daughter – and then a well-built tough guy asking questions about said woman.

It transpires she is caring for Laura (Dafne Keen), a tough nut with similar X-Men capabilities to our metal-boned slicer and dicer. We learn she has escaped from an orphanage of mutants and she is meant to be meeting others like her at a place far north. Will Logan, now being a cabbie, drive her there?

Thus the film takes on the form of a road movie, this time with Wolverine at the wheel and Charles Xavier in the back seat. They have a heap of baddies on their tail, including crazed Dr Rice, played with a fierce upper-class nastiness by Richard E Grant. When they are offered hospitality, bad things tend to happen.

A problem in the last decade of super hero films is creating suspense. Too often, a plot twist is replaced by humour (think Iron Man – great fun, but you know who is going to win the end) or special effects (The Avengers – again, you know who’s coming out on top, but here are some massive explosions and vertigo-inducing CGIs to help us get there.)

But Logan avoids this, and has a seriousness about it. Jackman’s character is a strange, beatnik drifter, as if he’s stepped out of Jack Kerouac’s On The Road. He ruminates on times gone by and missed opportunities, and fears for what the future holds.

It sets a tone for a very enjoyable, even occasionally thoughtful two-and-a-half hours. It has some surprises in among some mutilating gory fight scenes.

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