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I drove to Keene, New Hampshire today to see Logan, Hugh Jackman's final turn in the role of Wolverine. You've probably read other reviews and know that the film is basically a western in the mold of Shane and that it also borrows from The Wrestler and Unforgiven, two movies about aging men whose identities are tied to the violent exploits of their youth. Because of its R rating, it features the sort of violence that Wolverine's claws and berserker rages imply but which previous movies with more kid-friendly ratings shied away from. Much of that violence occurs in the first and third acts, and a lot of slow, atmospheric, maudlin scenes drag the film to a crawl in the middle. Check, check, check and check.

The film makes reference to events from previous movies and is littered with Easter Eggs for the hardcore fans of the X-Men franchise both on the screen and on the page, but it seems largely unrelated to those previous films, despite the fact that it stars Patrick Steward and Hugh Jackman. This film seems to be a set in a world that is several degrees closer to our world than any of the previous films, even though it is set in the future.

The future setting is actually the thing I found most interesting beyond the basic grief porn appeal of the film. The 2029 setting, 12 years in the future, offered the filmmakers a pallet on which to make predictions about how the landscape of the American Southwest will change over the coming decade and a fifth. The vision of the future on offer is fairly conservative. It is neither a post-apocalyptic wasteland (though I have heard it described as such) nor a flying-cars-and-robots technophile's fantasy. Visions of the future tend to gravitate to one of those extremes. Restrained extrapolations like the one we get in Logan are fairly rare. I appreciated that people in the film still drive cars, SUVs and pick-up trucks. They still use hand-held smart phones which double as media players. Clothing styles have not changed noticeably.

What is different is that the roads are thick with driverless trucks which look basically like trailers with no truck pulling them. Also, the harvesting machines on the corporate corn fields are monstrously large. I did notice that the flatscreen TV in the Oklahoma casino hotel room on which Charles Xavier and X-23 watched Shane was particularly large. Probably the most far-fetched technology in the film is the advanced cloning and genetic manipulation practiced by the evil corporation along with the cybernetic limbs of many of the company's mercenaries.

During the middle of the film, Logan, Charles and Laura accept the invitation to eat dinner, and later spend the night, with an African American farming family. Theirs is the only remaining family-owned farm in the area. The rest have all been swallowed up by a big agricultural corporation that has hired goons to harass the one remaining family and drive them out. I was reminded of The Water Knife when the company shut off the family's water supply and when the farmer tried to assert his water rights, which derived from his relationship with the previous owner of the land.

The vision of the future in Logan is not that of The Road Warrior or Escape from New York. It is one that is brutally austere for some and utterly banal and normal for others. Just like the world of today.

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