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It really hurts to see you like this,” disheartened & disgruntled Donald, relentless and calculative head of security of Transigen, looks at the injured Logan, who stabs the razor-sharp steel like claws in the flesh and bones, for one last time, in Logan.

It equally hurts us to see Logan beaten black and blue like a normal human being; though bullets don’t kill him, it slows him down. He has lost the sheen and zeal.  He is aged, and scarred, wears a patriarch grey-beard, with his healing power considerably diminished.  He is drinking hard and needs his spectacles to read.

He is at his most vulnerable here, in an ebb, almost stripped down to Alan Ladd’s ‘Shane’ – a drifter, who is embroiled in someone else’s fight, in the hot desert bordering Mexico. In fact, the character of Logan develops to such a spectrum that Shane’s character starts resembling Logan, and at one point, X-Men founder, Charles Xavier sits down to watch Shane briefly.

In the bonafide opening scene, a cliche action foreplay sequence for any superhero film, Logan steps out of his limousine and walks to local thugs limping, in a clumsy way. He slices and dices them but not as smoothly as he did in the previous nine outings. And quickly, he shrugs off his mutant identity, descends into isolation, and gets back behind the wheels as a chauffeur. Subconsciously, fighting an intrinsic existential crisis, Logan takes care of the dementia-ridden Professor X who is struggling to keep his uncontrollable psychic powers from running totally amok.

Logan’s dull routine turns topsy-turvy, by the sudden appearance of a quiet, blue-eyed young girl named Laura (Dafne Keen). She’s a mutant who is enraged at the drop of a hat. She is yet to learn how to control her super powers. She needs a protector. She is taken under the wing of Charles Xavier and Logan who are ceaselessly chased by the menacing Donald (Boyd Holbrook, from ‘Narcos’ fame), and the nefarious scientist (Richard E. Grant).

Much of ‘Logan’ is an extended chase sequence. It may remind you of ‘Mad Max: The Road Warrior’ with its terrifically staged road scenes in the middle of the desert. Logan’s reluctance to go back to his favored action mode renders plausibility to the fact that action has consequences.

James Mangold, who previously directed the classical western ‘3:10 to Yuma” takes a cue from it and tones Logan into a noirish-western drama that is staggeringly bleak and conspicuously humane. Making a significantly better version of the tepid ‘The Wolverine (2013)’, Mangold injects emotional pathos around a compelling drama. Like all other superhero films that wrongfully claim for mature audience viewing – which, in fact, turns out to be cancerous trash – this emphatically isn’t the case with Logan.

Mangold, along with Scott Frank and Michael Green, bolsters the restrained screenplay with somber drama having much emotional resonance. The slow pacing of the film turns into a metaphor for Wolverine’s slowed-down metabolism of invincibility.

The violence is brutal. You see chopped heads flying. Gus Fringe-style burnt faces.  All of these have been achieved with minimal CGI. Action scenes are earned here. Mangold roots his character to be as earthly as possible. Professor X and Logan, who are both in psychical degradation, share the same sense of vulnerability and longing for a family. Mangold is more focused on person to person relationship. The most pensive and gripping scenes are in its plentiful quieter moments.

If there is any flaw in the film, it’s the overlong stay of the second half. The film is gorgeously shot in the thick texture by John Mathieson, and Marco Beltrami’s evocative score syncs well with the tone of the film. Keen is sublime and impressive in her almost wordless role, while Jackman sinks his teeth deeper into the character for one last time. The send-off is grand and meatier. The climax scene will surely give you goosebumps. It swings freely between the incorrigible tragedy and an alluring hope.

Logan Links : Flicksup, Metacritic, IMDb

★★★★

 

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