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Tuesday, May 2, 2017
Logan. Our Wolverine.
The strong, silent type. He wasn’t in touch with his feelings. He just did what he had to do.
I always loved Tony Soparno's rants about the archetype of a true man. Someone who simply does the things an honorable man should do, no matter what. Someone who has his own, unspoken code and follows it.
And I can't help but think that Tony Soprano would have loved Logan.
We spent so many years with Logan but not until James Mangold's magnificent film which I have not been able to stop thinking for almost two months now, did we really get to see him in all of his glory. In all of his strong, silent type glory. The ultimate hero, but the hero who feels so very human. In Logan you could take his claws away and it wouldn't change much. In Logan we get to see a hero which is not made extraordinary because of his powers, his claws, or the adamantium covering his bones. We get to see that it is something else that made him so very special.
We saw Logan willing to sacrifice his life many times. We saw him embrace Rogue and willing to die in order to save her. We saw him stand against Jean and kill her in order to protect others. We saw him risk his life when he went back in time to save not only his friends but other mutants like him, most of whom he never met and never will. We saw him walk into a trap in order to save an innocent girl in harm's way.
But we never saw him like this. Logan has always had a death wish - he lived too long, he fought in too many wars. Until Logan we only saw his broken mind - the nightmares he has causing him to wake up screaming and his claws to come out. The nightmares of fights fought and those he loved lost, But in Logan we also see his body giving up. While in The Wolverine his ability to heal was compromised, it was easily fixed. In Logan it is his own body, the adamantium that covers his skeleton, poisoning him.
In spite of Logan's defeatist attitude he is at heart a soldier, loyal to the end. Whatever productive thing he does he does to care for his dying friend, Charles. He smuggles the drugs to help him. He gets out to work to earn money for him. Charles is Logan's priority at all times, he was a friend to him, he helped him and he now needs Logan's help.
But Logan feels no joy in knowing his end is near. He spends his days aimlessly driving a limo, trying to earn money to capture the elusive dream of escape. He drinks himself to sleep, refuses help of those who want to help him. He just wants all of this to be over. He wants everything to be the background noise until it all goes away.
But then someone comes along.
Logan is forced to abandon his aimless way of life in order to help a little girl who happens to be his daughter. The more I think about it the more I wonder if Logan's help was even crucial here. Laura was seemingly even more capable and ruthless than him. But that is not relevant. Logan had to help. He had to make sure she was all right. Because this is who he is.
What is very interesting about the movie is that the film condemns all killing. The people Logan kills are in majority truly awful people - they experimented on children, they killed the innocent. Yet he tells Laura that when it comes to killing 'it's all the same' when it comes to who you kill. All those lives Logan took weigh heavy on him.
Perhaps the most harrowing moment of the whole film happened when the father of the family who was just brutally killed because they helped Logan pulled the trigger with intention of killing Logan, the man who is in his eyes responsible for the slaughter. There were no bullets left in the gun and the father fell on the ground, dead. But in this moment we get to see the close up of Logan's bruised, bloodied face and his heartbreaking expression. He cost people their lives - again. He brought bloodshed on people who were happy - again. It's too much. It's too much to turn around from. Too much to forget. Too much to ignore and go on.
But Logan keeps going. He must. He must bury his friend. And despite his own protests and despite everything that seems reasonable or real he must help Laura. No matter his words, his acts make him who he is. He keeps going until he cannot go any longer.
Logan is not perfect. His dream escape, along with Charles on the boat doesn't include Caliban, who after wall was helping him. Logan, in spite of people being dependent on him keeps being stubborn refusing to take care of himself. When Logan is first approached by Gabriela he tells her to go away. When Laura, him and Charles are ambushed he is focused on rescuing his friend and set on leaving Laura behind.
But Logan's true courage and nature always manifested themselves through his actions in truly dire situations, not his words or his insistence on not giving a damn (in spite of everything inside of him screaming to do the right thing). When Gabriela collapses in front of Logan he quickly rushes to her rescue. And when the push comes to shove Logan rescues Laura from the men attacking her, risking his and Charles's lives during the escape.
When Laura is close to safety and finds people who can help Logan reverts into his shell again. The years of losing those close to him make him abandon Laura. And he would leave. He would go on to drink himself to death, if the adamantium doesn't kill him first, but he can't. They need his help. And for the one last time we see Logan as an ultimate hero. And at the most heroic he has ever been. We know he isn't coming back from this. And he knows this too.
Logan's courage was always the insane kind of bravery. The I don't care if I die, I don't care what happens to me kind of bravery. And even when we saw him, in previous films, and we knew he would heal, somehow it never felt like he is risking his life because he knows he cannot die. It felt like he was risking his life because he was willing to die for others. And this one last time Logan's desire to protect leads him on a path to death, but this time there is no healing. There is no one who can help.
How fitting that the one who would kill him is the clone of himself - much alike but so very different. X-24 doesn't have Logan's memories. He doesn't have Logan's pain. And most importantly he doesn't have Logan's beautiful, aching humanity which is why so many of us still have tears in our eyes when we think that this is indeed the end.
A lot has been said about Logan's final words. In his final moments Logan looks at Laura, his daughter, a part of him, who loves him and is by his side and says "so this is what it feels like". Some interpreted it as Logan talking about dying, some as Logan talking about having someone there who loves him. But I think it goes deeper than this. Logan has lost countless people he loved to the point where he just gave up. Even at the end of the road Charles tells him he still has time, encouraging Logan to look for family, for home. But Logan brushes it off. He has felt happiness and lost it too many times.
But now it is different. Now it's him finally about to have his peace, ending his journey while someone else is left alive, to mourn, to weep, to miss, to find the courage to go on.
We may have not noticed this until now, but in the time of such change in cinema with comic book adaptations dominating much of the worldwide box office, it seems that superhero movies may be the equivalent of western films these days. And Logan seamlessly blends both genres. But more importantly for 17 years we had such a hero on our screens. A lot of people expressed sadness over the fact that it was only the ninth film who did the character justice. I think Hugh Jackman himself always did the character justice, regardless of the quality of the movie he was in. And if among those nine films only one happens to be a masterpiece and it's the last one...well, if we could have only one this good, it's fortunate that it's this one.
We don't only have a character who is a hero, the actor who plays him is one too. We would never get this movie or this wonderful interpretation of the character during so many years if it wasn't for Hugh Jackman. From Jackman's relentless dedication to look the part, through him choosing to get the pay cut to get the movie R rating, finally him doing his very best and giving wonderful performances regardless if it was a few second long cameo or he was carrying the entire film, it's exceptional what he has done. If Jackman's wish is for this to be the end we must honor it. The man has embodied the character so many times, making sacrifices for so many years and during all of that he was always so respectful and grateful towards the fans. He gave it his all.
There may one day be another actor who plays the part but it won't matter. To paraphrase the words of Taron Egerton you are our hero. Our everything.
Logan is released on Digital on May 16th and on Blu-Ray on May 23rd.