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Friday, March 3, 2017

Review: Logan

A Family Affair

By Chris Sabga

Release Date: March 3rd, 2017 – U.S.
Rating: R
Genre: Action, Drama, Sci-Fi
Running Time: 137 minutes
Director: James Mangold
Writers: James Mangold, 
Scott Frank, Michael Green
Cast: Hugh Jackman, Patrick Stewart, 
Dafne Keen, Boyd Holbrook, 
Stephen Merchant, Elizabeth Rodriguez, 
Richard E. Grant, Eriq La Salle, 
Elise Neal, Quincy Fouse

My cousin Mike Sabga (credited as Michael "3D Mike" Sabga) worked on "Logan," which is a hell of a cool thing. lists him as the film's Video and Computer Supervisor. One look at his IMDb page reveals that he's had an incredible career. His credits range from cinematic classics like "Catch Me If You Can," "Ocean's Eleven," and the wonderful "Mud" to television staples such as "CSI," "CSI" Miami," and "Brothers & Sisters" (among many others in both mediums). But "Logan" may represent the pinnacle of his numerous achievements in Hollywood. When I found out my cousin was involved, I couldn't help but feel immensely proud – and even more excited than ever to see the movie. 

It is appropriate, then, that "Logan" is all about family.

James "Logan" Howlett (Hugh Jackman) is older now but not necessarily any wiser. The ravages of time have not been kind to the once mighty Wolverine. He has degenerated into a broken down alcoholic who drives a limo make ends meet. Mutants like him have become a dying breed. But they're not totally extinct just yet.

Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart) is in even worse shape. He's now 90 years old and his health is failing. What's more dangerous than a mutant with full control of his capabilities? A mutant without any control at all. Seizures cause the former Professor X to unleash his powers randomly and recklessly. In their younger years, Xavier became like a father to Logan. The X-Men were their family. That is why Logan still tends to the old man – with the help of Caliban (a surprisingly touching Stephen Merchant), an "albino" allergic to sunlight. I get the sense that he, like Logan, has become another surrogate son.

Laura (newcomer Dafne Keen) is an 11-year-old girl in danger. Her caregiver (played by Elizabeth Rodriguez) begs Logan to protect them both. I don't think it's a spoiler to mention who Laura's father is. Her trademark claws make that obvious. 
Mike Sabga - AKA "3D Mike"

All of the actors in "Logan" are top-notch, but it's Patrick Stewart, in particular, who delivers an Oscar-caliber performance. It's a shame these types of roles are generally shunned by the Academy. 

This is a much rougher and grittier version of Wolverine. Harsh language, gratuitous violence, and graphic bloodshed dominate several scenes. The main characters spend most of the film bloody, bruised, and badly wounded. The kills look like something straight out of a seedy slasher flick. "Logan" is strictly for adults – and I love that!

But beneath its grimy exterior beats a big (bleeding) heart.

For a series all about mutants and powers, "Logan" may be the most human superhero story ever told. Logan and Charles are no longer saving the world – they can barely save themselves. Despite their gifts and heroic backgrounds, it's their failings and frailties that take center stage here. Even Wolverine and Professor X aren't immune to the realities of aging and the traumas of the past finally catching up to them.

Think about the countless superhero movies we've all seen over the years. The good ones have captured our imaginations, thrilled us to the very core, and introduced us to worlds and powers that are quite literally beyond belief. "Logan" has done something different and more: It caused me to shed a tear.