Logan thrills, but leaves unanswered questions

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I was soaring on the crest of the hype wave when I saw Logan just a few days ago. That probably wasn’t for the best, because I walked away just a little bit disappointed.

It’s unfair, really, because Logan is 95% of a great film. It has an emotional story, gut-punching performances, and stark, lovely cinematography. Unfortunately, none of those things were enough to distract me from the questions that rankled my brain throughout the 137-minute running time. Here are three big ones (spoilers):

1. Why can’t Logan heal?
The film goes through great pains to tell the audience how Logan is dying—adamantium poisoning—but it never really tells us why. Hugh Jackman’s hirsute, scrappy mutant has slashed his way through six other films (not counting his two uncredited appearances in First Class and Apocalypse) without any adverse effects from the metal in his body. What’s changed? Why is his healing factor so weak? Is it the genetic dampener introduced to the world’s food supply? Is it the drugs and alcohol Logan now abuses? Is it simply age? Whatever the case, I need a better answer than “James Mangold wanted a gritty atmosphere.”

2. What’s so magical about the US/Canada border?
Transigen is a ruthless, powerful organization that has no apparent budgetary limitations or ethical boundaries. Yet everyone in the movie seems to operate with an understanding that the bad guys absolutely will not follow X-23 or the rest of the refugee children into Canada. Is there some kind of treaty in place? Has future Donald Trump built a massive wall that only allows little mutant kids to emigrate? Will the Transigen assassins simply burn when exposed to Canadian sunlight, like Caliban?

3. Why would Logan and Caliban not incapacitate Pierce when they had the chance?
The first two questions could have been answered, if only the movie had bothered to try, but this one is hopeless. First of all, considering the aggression Logan shows toward everyone else who gets in his way, why wouldn’t he just kill Pierce when he had the chance? Barring that, why not tie him up or sedate him before sending poor Caliban off to toss him in a ditch? I’ve read a few defenses of this scene that say Logan simply “underestimated” Pierce, which is absurd. A man who’s lived such an artificially long and dreadfully violent life would know better than to trust an enemy’s unconscious state to a kick in the head. It probably wouldn’t have bothered me so much if it were a minor plot point, but the tension in much of the film is driven by Caliban’s capture and tracking abilities.

Despite these loose ends, however, I’d be remiss if I didn’t finish with a firm recommendation. Logan’s bleak tone is unique in the X-Men cinematic universe, and the relationship between the titular character and Dafne Keen’s X-23 alone is worth your time. Even if the plot does prompt some head-scratching.

 

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