Sunday 26 February 2017

Logan ... Logan's on the run

IT'S been 17 years since the first X-Men film appeared, and in that time, Hugh Jackman's Wolverine has taken the world by storm. Logan is supposedly the final film in the Wolverine trilogy. The film is chockful of violence, and it's also about the loner Logan shedding his inhibitions and learning to be part of someone's life, and standing up for that someone.
   Logan is introduced to new young bilingual mutant Laura (Dafne Keen), whose skills are introduced through an awesome scene in an abandoned industrial plant in the Mexican desert.

   Thanks goes to co-writer and director James Mangold for the terrific editing for this scene. It took my breath away, not just with its in-your-face violence, but also because of Laura's age and gender. It used to be white men inflicting pain on people, but the tables are now turned.
    Violence, meanwhile, takes centrestage in this film, and it's definitely more interesting to watch this violence than, say, the gratuitous killings in John Wick 2.
   Mangold has also cleverly inserted a scene from 1953 Western Shane to give context to the violence in Logan.
    Laura and Charles watch Shane in a hotel room while hiding from the mercenaries. The scene shows a
Logan's wheeling and dealing with Prof Charles.
 young boy pleading with gunfighter Shane to stay, but Shane replies: "Joey, there's no living with a killing. There's no going back from one. Right or wrong, it's a brand. A brand sticks. There's no going back. Now you run on home to tell your mother, and tell her, tell her's everything all right. And there aren't any more guns in the valley."
  Mangold wants viewers to link Shane to Logan, who has probably accepted his volatile nature and lust for blood.
  In the book Why Do People Hate America, the authors say that is Shane is a coming-of-age myth. They write that Shane's themes are  that the blood is the bond that legitimates appropriation of the land, meaning the spilling of blood through violence. "What Shane eventually establishes is that violence is a redemptive act of justice by which civilisation is secured and advanced."
   Logan using his claws to take down baddies is part of his nature, so he has finally come to accept it. But the link to Shane suggests that Mangold agrees with Logan's violent nature, and that it's necessary to achieve peace.
  Is it any surprise that those who grew up on Shane glady use violence to solve problems? Mangold doesn't sidestep it as much as he shoves it down our throats. Logan is littered with violence, and it's a smart move by Mangold to use Shane to justify the violence in Logan.
   Logan is set in 2029, in which most mutants have been obliterated. Our hero is a dying alcoholic with bouts of violence. He's grey haired, wrinkly, coughs blood and not as muscular as he was in The Wolverine (2013). He and albino mutant Caliban (Stephen Merchant) take care of the sickly Charles, who's confined to a wheelchair in an oppressive building.
    Logan is soon on the run with Charles and Laura. His acquiesces to her request to send her to a place called Eden, where mutants converge before seeking to cross the border into Canada. This scene hits home, because illegal immigrants are crossing the border into Canada due to US President Donald Trumps' attempted ban on refugees from seven mostly-Muslim countries.
   The film is an attempt to show Logan bonding with a kid, but films like this abound. In Real Steel
Logan and Laura.
(2011), a self-absorbed father (Jackman) finds himself taking care of a son  he had completely forgotten.
  When Laura pleads with Logan to help her and her friends finish their mission, it's not surprising for Logan to say no, insisting that it isn't part of the job. Viewers know that protagonists often change their minds later on.
   Laura being part of a biological experiment is also nothing new. Viewers would have seen countless films about thoroughbred and biologically-constructed soldiers of various ages. Constructing soldiers without a soul is also nothing new.
3 out of 5 stars


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