Logan was bloody, morbid, and sad.
There were some darkly funny and grimly satisfying moments, but in general I’m not a fan of the trendy “decrepit superhero” trope, which is what governs the entirety of this 137-minute film, a gritty, R-rated, sci-fi/western production marking the end of the seventeen-year era in which Hugh Jackman has played Wolverine.
I was impressed by the female star’s Hugo Weaving-like frowny face, which she used for almost the entire movie, and the character (portrayed by a digital collage of the actress, her stunt-double, and a laboriously created CGI avatar) seemed pretty capable.
It’s hard to call the movie a triumph for her, though I would have liked to. For one thing, the tone of the movie is hardly triumphant, and for another thing, the movie isn’t about her, or even about her relationship with Logan, it’s about Logan. (It says so right there in the title!) So although she drives the plot, and one or two of the cars in the plot, unquestionably, she’s still second fiddle.
Keep reading for a plot summary with SPOILERS in the form of a beat sheet in the style described in Blake Snyder’s Save the Cat.
My beat sheet for Logan
Logan is on the ground healing from an attack, sorta.
The year is 2029, and there are few, if any, mutants in the population. Logan is a substance-abusing limo driver who works in El Paso, Texas. He buys black-market drugs that keep senile Charles Xavier from mentally assaulting people by accident. The albino mutant Caliban takes care of Logan and Charles, to the extent that’s it’s possible, in an abandoned industrial facility.
Charles tells Logan that he’s a disappointment; when he took him in, he was an animal, but he has been given a family and should not now turn his back on that family. Supposedly, a mutant girl needs Logan’s help, and she’s waiting at the Statue of Liberty…
A Mexican woman named Gabriela approaches Logan, calls him Wolverine, and asks for his help. He refuses. Some kind of bad guy agent with a Southern accent and a robotic hand approaches Logan asking about Gabriela, and threatens Caliban. Gabriela summons Logan’s limo and promises him the money he needs to quit the limo job and buy a boat if he takes her and her daughter to Canada. He agrees, but when he goes to pick them up, Gabriela is already dead. The girl hides in his trunk without his noticing.
Break into Two
At the hideout, the girl, silent and apparently mute, meets Charles, who has has been expecting her. Logan doesn’t believe she’s a mutant, but when agents show up looking for her she kills them expertly, using claws like Logan’s on her hands and feet (but we never see the foot claws again). Logan joins the fight and escapes with her and Charles in the limo, but Caliban is captured by the robot-hand agent and forced to use his mutant power to track his friends.
B story/Promise of the Premise
It’s an awkward family road trip. Charles is Logan’s adoptive father, and Laura is Logan’s biological daughter. A video on Gabriela’s phone explains that Laura is one of a troop of mutant children created in a Transigen lab in Mexico. Gabriela, a nurse in the lab, tried to help the children escape when the lab bosses figured out that children made bad soldiers and switched to fabricating adult mutants from scratch.
In Oklahoma city, the group checks into a hotel and gets a change of clothes. While Logan trades the 2024 limo for an older four-door pickup, Charles and Laura watch an old western (Shane); Laura learns that if you’re a good person, killing stays on your conscience.
Logan learns that Eden, Laura’s destination, is almost certainly a fictional place, since it features in the plot of an old comic book Laura was carrying in her backpack. The agents have caught up. Charles attacks, hurting everyone in the hotel as well as the agents, but Logan and Laura manage to fight them off, and the group escapes again, but now Logan believes they have no meaningful goal.
Bad Guys Close In/All Is Lost
Charles insists that Logan pull over to help a family whose trailer has been run off the road by self-driving container trucks. He calms the horses and Logan pushes the truck back onto the road. I guess this teaches Laura it’s good to help people. Laura likes horses—she has a horse toy and a unicorn shirt.
Charles insists on accepting the family’s invitation to join them for a home-cooked meal, then accepts their invitation to stay at their house overnight. They’re struggling with their farm, though, because they are in a losing battle with some big evil company next door that uses machines to grow genetically modified corn that (we later learn) gets made into corn syrup that prevents new mutants from being born naturally. After dinner, the water supply abruptly cuts off, a result of sabotage by local goons hired by the big company.
Logan helps the dad fix the water pipe and intimidates the local goons. (That doesn’t seem like it would be a helpful thing to do, since he isn’t planning to stick around and guard the family and their water pipe.)
The next morning, Charles wakes after the most peaceful, perfect, normal night ever, and tells Logan he remembers hurting people (an incident that apparently happened between this movie and Apocalypse). He says he feels guilty and finally understands Logan’s pain. Then he gets stabbed in the chest by a set of metal claws, but it’s not Logan stabbing him, it’s a lab mutant that looks like a younger, stronger, healthier Logan. The lab mutant is there to take Laura to the agents waiting outside.
Logan shows up, encounters his clone, and chooses to check on Charles rather than pursue the lab mutant carrying Laura away. He carries Charles to the bed of his truck, where he dies in his arms.
Then there’s a big fight and lots of blood and death. I didn’t watch most of it. The local goons get killed when they mistake the lab mutant for Logan. The lab mutant kills the farm wife and her son. In the chaos, Caliban steals a pair of grenades and detonates them, killing himself and destroying the truck he’s in. The farm dad helps incapacitate the lab mutant, but then, understandably, tries to kill Logan, too, before dropping dead himself.
The scientist bad guy and the robot-arm agent and the incapacitated lab mutant somehow all survive, since they all reappear later. Logan escapes with Laura and dead Charles.
Dark Night of the Soul
Logan buries Charles in the woods near some water, but can’t express his grief in words. Instead, he expresses his grief by using a shovel to attack the pickup truck. After he collapses in the middle of the road, he wakes in a local clinic, rejects further treatment, and walks out with Laura. They steal an even older vehicle, uncoincidentally a Bronco. Logan discovers that Laura can talk, though she mostly uses Spanish, which he doesn’t understand. He tries to explain that Eden is fiction, but she won’t believe him. She recites the names of her mutant friends from the lab.
Break into Three
Logan decides he might as well take her to the North Dakota rendez-vous point where her friends are supposedly meeting up to go to Eden, somewhere across the border in Canada. Her friends are in fact there. They give him some green lab serum that helps him heal a little. While he sleeps, the kids trim his beard so that he looks more like Wolverine again.
Logan wakes from a nightmare. Laura says that in her nightmares, people are hurting her. Logan says in his, he’s hurting others. Laura says the people she killed were bad, but Logan says it doesn’t matter; killing still leaves scars. He admits that he carries an adamantium bullet around all the time because he might want to kill himself.
The leader tries to give Gabriela’s money to Logan, but Logan says he doesn’t need it. Still, he doesn’t want to go with with Laura and the young mutants to Eden because “bad things happen to the people I care about”. Laura, disappointed, says, “Then I should be fine.”
Thanks to drones, the young mutants aren’t as safe as they think they are. Logan rushes to catch up and defend them from the Transigen agents. He’s old and weak, though. He injects himself with all the remaining green lab serum at once, despite having been warned not to (because the stuff wears off fast), and starts fighting agents alongside the young mutants. None of the young mutants are killed, which seemed odd: I thought killing them was the whole point of the attack, and none of them apart from Laura had healing power, so they should have been pretty easy to kill.
In fact, the good guys do pretty well killing the bad guys, until Logan has to fight lab Logan. Laura uses the adamantium bullet to destroy lab Logan, but Logan is already mortally wounded, and dies in Laura’s arms. Sniff.
Before proceeding to Canada, Laura and the young mutants bury Logan. Laura quotes lines from the western movie she watched with Charles, then turns the gravemarker sideways so that it stops looking like a Christian cross and instead looks like an X.
Thus: Logan began and ended the movie horizontally, defeated, but though he started the movie alone, as a junkie limo driver who killed people, he died as an X-Man, protecting members of his mutant family.
A real downer, that ending. I was hoping for a more uplifting post-credits scene, but there was nothing.
Logan nonchalantly warns the guys who are stealing his hubcaps at the beginning of the movie that they are making a mistake (stripping the chrome-plated lug nuts on the tires). They shoot him. He gets back up. They attack him. He attacks back. Eventually, a couple of survivors drive off.
Escaping his hideout, Logan tries to crash the limo through a fence. The limo gets stuck, so he reverses, dragging the fence and its barbed wire with it, effectively stopping a handful of motorbikes trying to follow his retreat. Would-be obstacle becomes effective defense.
Logan stops Laura from killing a gas station clerk by grabbing her and saying “Not okay!” This extremely useful admonition from parenting 101 is funny because it’s incongruous. How, indeed, would you even begin to parent a lab-created child soldier who doesn’t know she shouldn’t take anything she wants and kill everyone who gets in her way?
As Caliban explodes a pair of grenades, he says “Beware the light”. It’s a phrase his torturers used to mock his sensitivity to the sun, but it also symbolizes the fact that he’s on the side of the good guys.
The young mutants all attack the robot-hand guy with their powers at the same time. I guess I was glad that the children got to have their revenge, though the grass-growing power was pretty eerie.