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Title: Logan

Describe This Movie In One Simpsons Quote:

Homer: "Mmmm, loganberry."

Brief Plot Synopsis: The Wolverine: Beyond Thunderdome

Rating Using Random Objects Relevant To The Film: Five C. Thomas Howells out of five.

Tagline: "His time has come."

Better Tagline: "Where a beast would have claws, I was born with talent."

Not So Brief Plot Synopsis: The year is 2029, and mutants have all but disappeared. An aging Logan (Hugh Jackman) ekes out a living as a limo driver in south Texas, criss-crossing the border to help take care of an ailing Charles "Professor X" Xavier (Patrick Stewart), who suffers from dementia and requires medication to prevent dangerous telepathic seizures. This tenuous status quo is shattered by the appearance of a young girl named Laura (Dafne Keen), and the shadowy paramilitaries pursuing her because of her striking similarities to the X-Man formerly known as Wolverine.

"Critical" Analysis: At one point in Logan, our weary protagonist proclaims, “The world is not the way it was.” It’s both a (perhaps inadvertently) on-the-nose assessment of the current state of affairs as well as a depressing prognosis for the future. We don’t know *why* the mutants have all died off, precisely, just that none have been born in two decades. Also, that Professor X was somehow involved in a catastrophe that killed off most of the original X-Men. What hasn't changed? Asshole white kids chanting “USA!” USA!” at Mexican laborers, of course (President Ivanka will have just started her second term), and sinister, government-funded experiments on children.

Logan is not the way he was either. His healing factor isn’t quite cutting the mustard these days, and the adamantium grafted to his bones courtesy of the “Weapon X” program just might be poisoning him to death. One thing left (mostly) undamaged is his loyalty, which compels him to care for Xavier almost as much as the fear at the potential havoc the most powerful telepath on the planet with Alzheimer’s could wreak. When Laura shows up, he initially resists helping her, but it’s this same allegiance that spurs him to action…supplemented by occasional fits of berserker rage, of course.

Yet as gratifying as it is to see the guy who’s “the best he is at what he does” cut loose for the first time in 17 years, director James Mangold (The Wolverine, 3:10 to Yuma) is at least as interested in exploring his character’s reluctant hero archetype as he is realistic depictions of claws to the face. The parallels to Shane are most obvious (possibly because Charles and Laura watch the movie in their hotel room at one point), but the influences run the gamut from Otto Preminger to John Ford (one aspect of Logan’s physical deterioration is that it apparently forces him to walk like The Duke).

It's easy to find fault with the X-movies, but whatever you think of casting the 6'2" Jackman as a canonically diminutive character, his performances have held the franchise together. One of the first scenes in X-Men establishes Logan/Wolverine as a reluctant protector. There (and in subsequent films), his charge was Rogue; in Logan it's the considerably more volatile Laura, but that theme has remained more or less consistent, giving this most recent movie added dramatic weight.

It’s kind of remarkable to think that Jackman has played this character for almost 20 years. Even more so to think we’re finally seeing the character written in such a way as not to hold him hostage to genre conventions. There’s no planetary threat here (the Big Bad who eventually shows up is an echo from X2), and little in the way of green screen CGI shenanigans. It’s simultaneously gratifying that this incarnation is the truest version of Wolverine we’ve yet seen, and depressing because it’s most likely the last time we’ll get to see him.

“Most likely” because while Jackman has ruled out a Deadpool sequel appearance, he's left the door open for showing up in one of the Marvel Universe movies. Never mind that seeing him in Avengers: Revenge of Paste-Pot Pete after experiencing Logan would be like watching Martin Brodeur after he went to the St. Louis Blues: depressing and vaguely infuriating.

Because Logan is everything we complain comic book movies aren’t: It’s contemplative and poignant, and there are depths to these characters only hinted at in earlier films. We also get a real sense of closure, unlike the perpetual post-credits “THE END(?)” garbage we see in the MCU.

And it has a hard “R” rating, because nothing balances out periods of somber introspection like watching a pissed-off Wolverine beheading somebody.

Logan is in theaters Friday. See it before somebody spoils it, bub.

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