It’s the end of an era. Not until we see Robert Downey Jr. hang up his suit will something this long running come to a close. I can only hope that Iron Man gets just as good a send off as everyone’s favorite X-Man does.
It’s 2029, but you wouldn’t guess it judging by the lack of progress. Logan (Hugh Jackman) coasts the Texas-Mexico border working as an Uber limo driver for rich socialites. Mutants as a species are dead or missing. A brief blip in the genetic code of humanity. Logan himself is wasting away. Not only is he an extreme alcoholic, the very metal that made him so famous is slowly poisoning him from the inside.
Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart) isn’t doing much better. Addled by alzheimers, he rolls around in an abandoned water tower, kept heavily medicated by Logan so his frequent seizures don’t kill the whole world. He is a living, breathing WMD. All Logan wants is for them to be left alone, but it’s never worked that way for the Wolverine, has it?
All of a sudden, Logan has to transport a young mutant, Laura (Dafne Keen), across the country to a supposed safe haven. If you’ve seen the trailers, you know exactly what she is, and the kind of people they are running from.
For those worried, Logan earns every bit of its R-rating. The very first word in the script is fuck. Which sounds like a “look at us, being so edgy” kind of line, but if you’ve enjoyed Wolverine in all these past films you know you’ve been dying to hear him drop some F-bombs. A man who is motivated by rage needs to swear. And Professor X, unbound from his mind, takes gleeful departures from his proper upbringing to lay down some sassy cusses. On one hand, it’s glorious, on the other, it finally feels real. People die, people get frustrated, they swear because of it.
Finally, we get a Wolverine film that isn’t afraid to show some claw. Gory to just before the point of gratuitousness, Logan carves its way through so many nameless mercenaries you really start wondering where these guys come from and is the pay really worth it to get murder stabbed by what amounts to a trident? Logan gets baptized in blood almost every time enemies come at him. Laura as well does a great deal of punishing soft skinned bodies.
Despite the tone up of the action, Logan is a tone down for the X-Men franchise. There’s no world ending event, Magneto isn’t gearing up for another sinister plot. There’s just two men and a girl, trying to escape. One man, crushed by his failure to achieve his goal of unity, grasping desperately at a little girl’s future. And another man trying to see just one friend of his make it to the end of their lives peacefully. This intimacy allows for character development so clearly lacking from previous films.
Where Logan loses points is story. Cracked.com recently pointed out that it’s essentially Children of Men but with lower stakes or investment. Fair, but a little harsh. But it does mean the movie is quite predictable. Barring a middle twist that the trailers didn’t spoil at all, Logan is a ride you’ve been on before.
But it’s not one that Wolverine has been on before. If Hugh Jackman was your hero after X1, this is the film you needed it to end on. The script is deep, funny, and moving. The action is relentless and entirely fitting with the character. Dafne Keen is an absolute delight. And Hugh Jackman is the best he’s ever been. Only if they cast Tom Hardy will I ever be willing to enjoy another Logan.
3 1/2 out of 4 stars.