In 'Logan,' Hugh Jackman's Wolverine Shines His Badge One Last Time

Mar 3, 2017
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In the last 17 years, Hugh Jackman has clawed his way through nine X-Men movies as Wolverine. Now in the film "Logan," his mutant character is finally being allowed a change in style. Bob Mondello says "Logan" plays less like a superhero movie and more like a Western.

BOB MONDELLO, BYLINE: The year is 2029, and Logan is tired. Mutants like him have been hounded very nearly to extinction. And this now-greying wolverine has been reduced to driving a limo for drunken teens. He's often drunk himself, a barely functioning alcoholic with terrible aches and pains, especially when those metal claws pop out of his knuckle.

You get the sense that he'd be happy to ride permanently into the sunset if he didn't have to score black-market drugs for Professor Xavier, who's old enough now that he bridles at being called a mere octogenarian. Patrick Stewart is crusty and addled as Xavier, talking wistfully about family as he hallucinates in the abandoned water tank they call home.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "LOGAN")

PATRICK STEWART: (As Xavier) People who love each other - you should take a moment, feel it. You still have time.

MONDELLO: And then a young girl comes into their lives, needing protection, exhibiting unnervingly familiar skills and baring a comic book.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "LOGAN")

HUGH JACKMAN: (As Logan) We've got ourselves an "X-Men" fan (laughter). Maybe a quarter of it happened and not like this.

MONDELLO: Still, a reason to saddle up again, no?

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "LOGAN")

STEWART: (As Xavier) She needs our help.

JACKMAN: (As Logan) Someone will come along.

STEWART: (As Xavier) Someone has come along.

MONDELLO: They have a bullet-riddled '24 Caddy. It's road trip time. Director and co-writer James Mangold is consciously calling up the Wild West here and not just by setting most of the film near the U.S.-Mexico border in the near future, where there does not seem to be a wall, for what that's worth. This film has specific callouts to scenes from the Wild West classic "Shane" and dialogue that sounds like "Shane" updated.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "LOGAN")

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: (As character) Looks like Mr. Munson hired some muscle.

ERIQ LA SALLE: (As Will Munson) He's a friend of mine.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: (As character) A friend with a big mouth.

JACKMAN: (As Logan) I hear that a lot.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: (As character) And you probably hear this too.

(SOUNDBITE OF GUN LOADING)

JACKMAN: (As Logan) More than I'd like.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: (As character) And you know the drill. I'm going to count to three, and you're going to start walking away.

LA SALLE: (As Will Munson) I got rights to this one.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: (As character) One...

LA SALLE: (As Will Munson) I have a lawyer now.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: (As man) Two...

JACKMAN: (As Logan) Three.

MONDELLO: Logan snaps the rifle in half.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "LOGAN")

JACKMAN: (As Logan) You know the drill. Get the hell out of here.

MONDELLO: Hugh Jackman is weather-beaten, weary and majestic as the reluctant claw man, shining up his badge one more time. And his surroundings, dark and dystopic even when the sun shines brightly, make this "X-Men" installment feel grounded in a way most comic-book movies don't. There are stretches where it's possible to forget you're watching a superhero epic and others where the director pulls out the ultraviolent stops on a special-effects scale that actually makes sense - not overblown and rocking city blocks but human-sized.

Hugh Jackman's "Logan" was always the most plausible X person, credited now with showing how the whole X-Men series could grow by growing more down to earth. I'm Bob Mondello.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "WAY DOWN WE GO")

KALEO: (Singing) And way down we go, go, go, go, go. And way down we go, go, go, go, go. So way down we go, go, go, go, go. Way down we go. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.