Logan: Don’t Be What They Made You

Logan’s (Hugh Jackman) final piece of advice to his young and unexpected mentee/daughter figure, Laura a.k.a. X-23 (Dafne Keen), a Latina girl and mutant (try not to read into that as a racist statement) made from Logan’s blood at Transigen, is simply this: “Don’t be what they made you.” This rather sage counsel holds many layers beyond just advising Laura not to be the killing warrior Transigen designed her to be, but, in certain regards, an underlying caution to Americans currently being raised in a U.S. run by a mongoloid race of zealots.

Those Americans who still think for themselves are, to be sure, “mutants” that the government (represented by Transigen) wants to quell and suppress at any cost. But even in the year 2029, during which the narrative takes place, there are still those willing to stick their necks out for the rare few who are exceptional. Thus, with the help and maternal protectiveness of a nurse at the facility named Gabriella Lopez (Elizabeth Rodriguez, best recognized from Orange is the New Black), Laura manages to escape from the ill-intentioned Zander Rice (Richard E. Grant, Spice Girls manager extraordinaire), the head surgeon responsible for creating, or rather, “controlling” new mutants, and his lead security nazi, Donald Pierce (Boyd Holbrook)–who is, in typical douchebag fashion, pretty attractivo.

As for Logan, well, he’s now physically past his prime and, accordingly, drives a limo in between taking care of X-Men founder Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart). Assisting him in these caretaking tasks is Caliban (Stephen Merchant)–who possesses an opposite physical appearance to the one in The Tempest. Though Logan and Charles do not have half the same physical clout as when they were each in their prime, they both pose a threat to Transigen’s goals in that they’re kind of like Barack and Michelle Obama, embodying a bygone era of hope. And so, when Gabriella seeks Logan out to request his aid in getting Laura to Eden, a place of refuge that Logan writes off as mythical lore propagated by X-Men comic books (these Marvel series are getting so meta), his own life is put at risk as he’s now on Transigen’s radar again.

In this fashion, the plot of Logan is driven (for two hours and twenty-one minutes, to be exact) by our eponymous hero’s mission to keep Laura safe from harm, grudging though he may be about it. In his old age, Logan definitely has zero room for sentimentality of any kind. And yet, it wouldn’t be a by-the-numbers blockbuster without our hard-shelled protagonist ultimately revealing his caramel interior. Moreover, because of writer-director James Mangold’s rich and varied history in creating characters for films like Girl, Interrupted, Kate & Leopold (an underrated Jackman movie) and Walk the Line, he has no difficulty in getting across the complexity of a man as subjectively torn and tormented as Logan.

His belief that something awful happens to everyone he cares about does not invoke the sympathies of Laura, who, in spite of minimal dialogue, communicates her strong opinions just fine with nary a word (a testament to Keen’s above average acting abilities, especially by eleven-year-old standards). As she grows attached to both Logan and Charles, the former starts to fear the ramifications of feeling anything real at his age–particularly as he’s learned time and time again that to get sentimental about a person quite literally leads to death.

Allegedly the final installment of the three films centering specifically on Wolverine that will feature Jackman in the role (but you know how actors always get tantalized by a big enough paycheck amount to come back to a role they said they would never do again), Jackman, bizarrely enough, decided to conclude his portrayal of Logan based on a conversation with Jerry Seinfeld, who said of his own signature “character,” Jerry Seinfeld, that it’s always better to leave before the audience thinks to itself, “Oh please go.” Now, instead, it’s invariably thinking of Dafne Keen: please stay and fill the child star void.

Whatever the next generation of X-Men franchise viewers may think, one thing is clear: Laura is going to be just as much of an iconoclast as her progenitor.