A review by Nalini Haynes
Logan (Hugh Jackman) is back. Again. At least this time he wasn’t in a remake of his own origin story. This time he’s an aging, suffering, dying mutant-who-cannot-age-or-die. He’s looking after Professor Charles Xavier (the mentor and telepath) who miraculously survived the bloodbath at the end of X-men 3. Logan has Charles stashed in a deserted location in Mexico, being cared for by Caliban (Stephen Merchant), an albino.
First I’ll talk about the story overall then discuss the use of albinism.
Logan is set in the future. I think it was 2029 or thereabouts, so it was near-future. The portrayal of the era was interesting, however: the time-jump was meant to serve the plot more than provide any substantial science fiction special effects or toys.
No mutants had been born in nearly 20 years, or so Logan and Charles believe. Logan no longer believes that the mutants serve a purpose; he’s depressed and angry, living with the soul-crushing belief that they were a mistake.
Logan picks up a woman and kid, Laura (Dafne Keen) who are on the run. The woman begs for help and offers money to take them to a mutant escapee rendezvous point. Logan agrees to help then returns to find her dead. He takes Laura. She’s silent, never speaking. He goes ‘home’ and mutant-hunters arrive. They fight.
Charles meets Laura. He wants to help her.
Apart from dialogue indicating the time, the movie only employs a couple of technologies — like driverless trucks — as indicators of the time setting. There are references to politics that indicate changes in politics (post-Trump but nothing good) but it’s not overt.
Laura being silent is a bit over-the-top once she reveals she can speak. I felt that was a plot flaw and, at one stage, I was wondering if her silence was a reflection of cutting costs (non-speaking roles pay less).
I wasn’t particularly inspired to see this movie until I heard that both Hugh Jackman and Patrick Stewart have decided that this will be their last X-men movie. As a final movie for both characters (unless they are re-cast, groan) it was a fitting end. It’s better to consciously pass the baton than to fart around like Star Wars did then have Leia (Carrie Fisher) die just as she was coming into her own as a powerbroker and an elder of the tribe.
Logan is a fairly predictable movie intended to have heart and be a tear-jerker. It’s not the best X-men movie but it was overall enjoyable. I wanted to watch it as Jackman’s and Stewart’s curtain call for X-men but it’s not a must-see movie.
Afterword on albinism…
Caliban is a bald mutant so it wasn’t initially obvious that he was intended to have albinism. However, Charles and Logan talk about him in derogatory terms as an albino. This perpetuates negative stereotypes and normalises ‘othering’ of people with albinism, however,Charles and Logan are both bitter nasty old men by this stage. Neither of them is particularly likeable, although Charles shows a good heart from time to time, especially when relating to the girl. Thus the way they talk about Caliban is a reflection of their internal pollution as much as a view of albinism.
Caliban has a mixed history, having previously helped the bad guys hunt mutants. This shades-of-grey history is not great but then both Logan and Charles have done terrible things so Caliban isn’t singled out as being a bad guy.
He puts up with a lot of crap from Charles and Logan, genuinely trying to help them, only to be left behind. In the hands of the bad guys, he’s tortured until he helps them hunt the mutants. It seems he’s returned to his past endeavours but he’s a prisoner. Then a bad guy accuses him of intentionally slowing down the hunt to help his mutant friends.
Hiding from the sun wearing sunglasses, a hat, gloves, everything, seems good until Caliban is exposed to the sun. He burns not like a human but like a vampire. He’s a mutant so this is kind of excusable but it perpetuates links between albinism and vampirism as well as making him more ‘other’ than people with albinism actually are.
Caliban sacrifices himself to kill bad guys and help the mutants, thus becoming a hero. The tone of the movie plays down his heroism but it’s there.
Logan completely undermines any good in Caliban’s portrayal by concluding with the harvesting of his DNA so he can return as a totally evil mutant hunter. Sigh.
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
Director: James Mangold
Writers: James Mangold, Scott Frank, Michael Green; characters based on work by several more writers
Stars: Hugh Jackman, Patrick Stewart, Dafne Keen
Running time: 2hr 21 minutes