STRIPLV0417

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Striplv Magazine - The Sexiest Magazine on the Planet, Issue 0417

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It’s 2029. Mutants are gone—or very nearly so. An isolated, despondent Logan is drinking his days away in a hideout on a remote stretch of the Mexican border, picking up petty cash as a driver for hire. His companions in exile are the outcast Caliban and an ailing Professor X, whose singular mind is plagued by worsening seizures. But Logan’s attempts to hide from the world and his legacy abruptly end when a mysterious woman appears with an urgent request—that Logan shepherd an extraordinary young girl to safety. Soon, the claws come out as Logan must face off against dark forces and a villain from his past on a live-or-die mission, one that will set the time-worn warrior on a path toward fulfilling his destiny. “We wanted something that would feel very different, very fresh and ultimately something very human,” Jackman says, “Because it seems to me that the strength of X-Men and the strength of Wolverine is more his humanity than his superpower. In exploring this character for the last time, I wanted to get to the heart of who that human was, more than what his claws can do.” From the outset, Jackman’s always had a gift for locating Logan’s humanity beneath his gruff, deeply scarred exterior. But with this nuanced, deeply moving performance, the actor brings the character full circle—the cigar-chomping, hard-charging loner is now a steadfastly loyal comrade-in-arms willing to sacrifice everything for what he believes. Of course, Jackman and Logan co-writer director James Mangold had already taken the character to new, far-flung places with the character’s previous solo outing 2013’s The Wolverine. That earlier film, adapted from the landmark 1980 comic miniseries by Chris Claremont and Frank Miller and suffused with the spirit of Japanese noir, and samurai films as well, and American Westerns, saw Logan plucked from self-imposed exile, only to be drawn into violence and intrigue in Japan. It won praise from critics for its careful parsing of Logan’s inner tumult, rather than strictly relying on over-the-top action set-pieces for thrills. Mangold says that following their experience on The Wolverine, the duo hadn’t necessarily planned to partner on another project centering on Logan. Hugh and I were both on the bubble about doing another one of these, says the director, who first worked with Jackman on 2001’s Kate & Leopold. If we were going to do it, I wanted to take it somewhere that interested me, someplace intimate and primal— a character— based story where we explore the fears and weaknesses of these larger than life heroes, a film that makes them more human. Even before embarking on the project, Jackman and Mangold understood that the story needed to exist apart from the dense and heady mythology of the larger X-Men franchise. We both wanted a movie that was a standalone movie,” Jackman says. “This is far more realistic than we’ve done before in the X-Men franchise, maybe any of the other comic book movies. It’s far more human. Specifically, Mangold, who wrote the Logan script with The Wolverine co-scripter Scott Frank and Michael Green, set out to create a character-driven piece that would focus on Logan, Xavier, and Laura as they made their way across a barren landscape. I had this kind of strange vision in my head that I wanted to make a road movie with these characters, in a way almost trapping myself as a filmmaker, Mangold says. Putting them in a car and trapping them on the highway would tie my hands. We couldn’t do something about worlds colliding or an alien invasion—the movie would essentially force itself to operate on a more intimate level. Also important to Mangold, who has long viewed Logan as a spiritual descendant of great western heroes like Clint Eastwood’s Outlaw Josey Wales or Alan Ladd’s Shane, was robbing Wolverine of his invincibility to make the character more vulnerable, more exposed. The idea with this film was to find him in a state where his ability to heal is extremely diminished, Mangold says. His strength is diminished. His health and his mental state are dark. When the film opens, Logan is in a vulnerable and broken state, the curse of his immortality wearing heavy on him as he cares for a weakened Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart) in a derelict smelting plant at the edge of an abandoned oil field. They’re joined there by a third mutant, Caliban, sheltering in obscurity at a time when the world believes mutants have passed into history. But Logan’s days of drinking in relative solitude are interrupted when he finds himself the reluctant guardian of a young girl, Laura (newcomer Dafne Keen) who has powers remarkably like his own: from her hands as well as her feet spring the same adamantium claws as Wolverine’s. Not that he’s exactly eager to accept this newfound responsibility—he’s far too weary to play the hero once more. “He doesn’t want to help. At all,” Jackman says. “He doesn’t want anything to do with it. He’s long past the stage in his life where he reacts to people’s pleas and cries for help. Basically, he has come to the conclusion that generally when he helps, things end up worse off. The people he loves end up getting hurt, that if he gets too close, or tries too hard, it ends in pain and loss and destruction.” Tasked with protecting her from the murderous cybernetic criminal Donald Pierce (Boyd Holbrook), Logan and Professor X set out to cross hostile territory to ferry Laura to a place called Eden, where young mutants are said to enjoy safe haven. But Pierce and his fearsome army of cyborg Reavers are determined to return the girl to the custody of Dr. Zander Rice (Richard E. Grant), the sinister geneticist behind Alkali who triggered her mutations through a series of inhumane experiments in the hopes of creating a child super-soldier. “He’s a sociopath who has no emotional understanding or feeling for the mutants that he creates,” Grant says. “He sees human beings as something to be cloned. He’s very scientific and intellectual about everything. He has no real emotional involvement whatsoever.” With Wolverine’s tremendous physical abilities compromised by age and the passage of time, their relentless pursuit of the travelers takes a great and bloody toll. It’s often said that a film is often only as great as its villain, and Jackman was quick to praise Holbrook’s turn as the unhinged Pierce. Boyd is a phenomenally talented actor, a really gifted artist, he says. When I read the script, I told him that I thought Pierce was one of the hardest parts to pull off. The greatest villains seem to be having more fun than anyone else in the movie, and he embodied that, and he did it brilliantly because he could turn on a dime and be very menacing as well as funny. But the actor had especially kind words for his young co-star, Dafne Keen, who makes her feature film debut with Logan with a virtuosic performance. She’s a phenomenal actress, and it’s an honor to share the film with her, Jackman says. Laura, genetically, has Wolverine’s DNA, so there are elements of him in her personality and her physicality, and that’s not easy to pull off. I found it hard to pull off when I was 30, let alone an 11-year-old-girl, and she’s not like that at all. She’s very bubbly, vivacious and energetic. Playing this constantly pissed off, rage-filled mutant who will take your head off if you look at her sideways is nothing like who she is, and she nailed it. Because of their shared traits, Logan is in a unique position to help Laura come to terms with her feelings and channel that overwhelming rage. Logan had a goodness to him, and if he just didn’t have that, he would have been the perfect killing machine because he goes absolutely berserk, Jackman says. He can take anyone out, but he had a heart. He had a conscience. He had a mind and didn’t just blindly follow whatever order he was given. “It’s a movie about family,” says Mangold. “It’s a movie about loyalty and love and specifically a character, Logan, who has been stubbornly avoiding intimacy throughout his long life, finally letting it in.” “There was a moment that I came to terms with the fact that this was my last one,” Jackman says. “I love this character, and he’s been amazing to me. I’d be lying if I said that I would have been okay if I didn’t feel everything was left on the table. And I mean everything. Every day, every scene was a kind of battle to get the best out of that character, to get the best out of me. There was an element of life and death about it—I know that sounds dramatic, but that’s how it felt.”

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