LOGAN. Starring: Hugh Jackman, Patrick Stewart, Dafne Keen, Boyd Holbrook, and Richard E. Grant. Directed by James Mangold. Rated MA 15+. Restricted. (Strong bloody violence). 137 min.

This American fantasy film is based on the Marvel Comics character, Wolverine. It is the tenth instalment in the X-Men series, and the final film on the exploits of Wolverine, a role Hugh Jackman has played for over 17 years. It is based loosely on the events of the series, "Old Man Logan" by writer, Mark Millar, and artist, Steve McNiven, and is about an ailing Wolverine, whose "time has come", and who is energised briefly by a young mutant girl, who has his former powers.

In the not-so-distant future, a weary Logan (Hugh Jackman) chauffeurs people around and looks after an ageing, telepathic Charles Xavier, Professor X (Patrick Stewart), who was the original founder and mentor of the X-team. Logan protects the Professor, who suffers from severe dementia, and he hides him away in an abandoned smelting tower on the Mexican border.

The glory days of super-hero X-characters have long passed. The mutant population has appreciably diminished, and all the the X-men have either died, or been destroyed by the Essex Corporation. The enemy forces are now dedicated to create the ultimate mutant. The only surviving members of the X-team are the Professor and Wolverine. Wolverine was an enhanced mutant with rapid healing powers, but age, past battles, and alcohol have affected his regenerative capabilities.

A young, 11-yr. old mutant, Laura Kinney (Dafne Keen) suddenly appears, and she needs help to get to the Canadian border to join up with other young mutants, who have escaped extinction. The Professor has been waiting for her, and Wolverine, sensing her importance to the man he is protecting, agrees to help. Laura possesses powerful fighting skills that demonstrate she is in many ways like the man Wolverine once was, and she is being pursued by the forces that created her. Laura has been cloned from Wolverine's DNA, and is being hunted down by Donald Pierce (Boyd Holbrook), Head of Security for the Essex Corporation, whose job it is to retrieve her. Mutant's are being grown by the Essex Corporation under the surgical headship of Zander Rice (Richard E. Grant), and Rice also wants her back. Wolverine knows he must do whatever he can.

This is the final screen adventure for Wolverine, and the focus of the film is firmly on his character, rather than eye-catching action adventures of a super-human kind. As a once-super-hero, he no longer saves the world, or nations within it, from imminent disaster or threat of destruction. In many ways, this movie is a far cry from a routine superhero film. The film is heavy on character drama and most of the characters act un-heroically. While a lot of superhero movies push their lead characters into incredible feats of endurance and moral fortitude, this film, under James Mangold's   direction, pushes a depressed superhero deeper into human-looking stress, and insecurity.

Hugh Jackman captures the subtleties of an ailing Wolverine very effectively. He nails the character of a conflicted super-hero in crisis, and acts out dramatically the frustrations of a person, others used to depend on, but who knows what he is incapable of doing. Dafne Keen brings an air of mystery and intrigue to her role as the young mutant, Laura. The cinematography in the film is characteristically dark and brooding; the film has an atmospheric musical score; and its action sequences (with an interesting touch of "Mad Max") are well integrated into the film's story line. All of them help to maintain the movie's central focus on the development of Wolverine's personality.

There is a problematic gap between the film's actual content and its Classification Advice which attempts sensibly to restrict viewing by young teenagers likely be attracted to what a person like them might do and think. That Advice needs to be heeded. This final film provides a particularly bloody end to a popular series, and young Laura's aggression is awe-inspiring. She is a young girl wanting affection at one moment, and is a vicious killing machine at another. The film wisely tries to exit with a character flourish for Wolverine, and glimpses of super-hero greatness that once was.

Peter W. Sheehan is Associate of the Australian Catholic Office for Film and Broadcasting

20th. Century Fox

Released March 3rd., 2017

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