For the second time in as many years, Fox has managed to make a great R-rated X-Men solo film. While the main series is stagnant and predictable, the solo outings are where the real magic happens. James Mangold's Logan is loosely based on the Old Man Logan story arc. In 2029, the mutants are gone. Of the X-Men, only Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) and Professor Xavier (Patrick Stewart) remain. Hiding out on the Mexican border, Logan cares for an ailing Professor X with the help of mutant tracker Caliban. When a new young mutant arrives, Xavier pressures Logan into helping the young girl make it to her North Dakota destination.
Logan is less a superhero movie and more of a western character study. It's precisely this reason why it works so well. There's nothing flashy here. It's dirty and gritty. It's essentially a western road trip movie where the good guys try to outrun the bad guys. A good bit of the movie sees Jackman keep his adamantium claws sheathed. Instead, the main focus is the interactions between Logan and Daphne Keen's Laura (X-23). Fans of the X-Men comics will know that X-23 is Wolverine's "daughter." She's a female clone of the original. While never explicitly stated in the film, it's strongly hinted by Professor X that that relationship has translated to film. It's fun and heartwarming to see their relationship grow throughout the course of the 2 hour 15 minute film.
This is an emotionally exhausting film. It's sad to see what has become of the great X-Men that we've grown accustomed to. Logan's much vaunted healing factor has slowed to a crawl and doesn't do what it once did. The adamantium that laces his bones is poisoning him. He can't heal like he once could. Charles Xavier has a degenerating brain disease which renders him unable to control his great mental abilities. In fact, more than once, his telepathic powers do more harm than good. Logan cares for him on the Mexican border by keeping him isolated and medicated. He now drives a limo to make money to get the medicine that the Professor needs.
There are some moments of levity throughout the film. Logan's reactions to both Xavier and Laura are both hilarious and realistic. It's a father/son/daughter dynamic with Logan caught in the middle. It's a position that he clearly hates but his sense of honor keeps him in the picture. The relationships that these 3 share are touching.
Now, before we forget, this is still a superhero/action movie. While the drama is compelling, the action doesn't take a back seat. The fight scenes are grisly and bloody. This is the Wolverine that we've been wanting to see ever since he popped his claws in 2000's X-Men. His claws are used in this one to do more than scratch. His tag-team fight with X-23 at the end is bloody brilliance. She more than holds her own against the Reavers and even gives pops a run for his money regarding brutality. It was great to FINALLY see the beserker rage that we've been waiting for. There's decapitations and enough dismemberments to make Jason Voorhees proud. Like Deadpool before it, this is definitely not a movie for children. There's excessive profanity that initially feels a little out of place. As the movie progresses, you see that these characters are at the end of their ropes. They're desperate. All decorum has long since gone. It makes sense.
We all know that Hugh Jackman and Patrick Stewart both announced that Logan would be their final X-Men related film. While this movie takes place in the future (thus allowing one to take place before it), Logan definitively closes the door on these characters while ushering in a potential new wave. Without spoiling, the ending is easily one of the most emotional moments from a comic book movie ever. It's the perfect encapsulation of the cinematic version of the character that we've come to know and love. He's a smart ass. He's a jerk. He's willing to do what needs to be done regardless of the outcome or his desire to do it. Logan has Wolverine at his best. And as we all know, he's "the best there is at what I do but what I do best isn't very nice." That catch phrase sums up Logan.
In the pantheon of X-Men movies, this one ranks right at the top. If Hugh Jackman and Patrick Stewart are going to go out, there's no better place to depart than at the top.