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Logan, directed by James Mangold, marks star Hugh Jackman’s final turn as The Wolverine and the character’s swan song does not disappoint. A world-weary Logan, a feeble and ailing Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart) and a young mutant named Laura (Dafne Keen) take a brutal, no holds barred road trip through hell that breaks the mold of the modern superhero movie and delivers the most visceral and hard-hitting X-Men movie to date.
Logan wastes no time in setting a striking tone. The very first line of dialogue is a drunk Logan swearing and within five minutes, the movies gives us more bloody violence than all of the previous Wolverine appearances combined. This is a movie where limbs are chopped off all the time and Logan and Laura routinely skewer people through their skulls – not to mention that about half of Hugh Jackman’s dialogue consists solely of expletives.
But Logan earns that adult rating not just through excessive violence or swearing, but by being set in an incredibly bleak version of the near future, one in which all nearly all mutants are dead and Charles Xavier suffers from debilitating seizures that, because of his powers to affect other people’s minds, hurt anyone that’s near him at the time. Logan has a limp and suffers from chronic pain due to his healing factor isn’t what it used to be. He snaps and snarls at everyone and drinks booze like it was water to help with the pain. Everything about the setting, the story and the characters is unmistakably and uncompromisingly adult.
Mangold and Jackman take full advantage of the fact that this is the character’s last outing, so they dig into him like never before. There’s not going be a sequel, nor is this is setting up an X-Men movie to come later, so there’s no reason to hold anything back. The result is a starkly different kind of superhero movie that viciously carves up its own identity.
This is Jackman’s finest performance as the title character. He perfected the role years ago, but the story and the writing here give him a lot to work with – Logan is weary, pissed off and more vulnerable than ever. The supporting cast is also in fine form, from Patrick Stewart, whose turn as Charles Xavier will also be his last time playing the role to Dafne Keen, who turns in a terrific performance as Laura – a very demanding role in a number of interesting ways I won’t spoil here. Both Boyd Holbrook and Richard E. Grant make for entertaining and memorable villains, but the movie doesn’t spend as much time with them as it perhaps should have. Stephen Merchant also appears in a brief yet memorable supporting role as a mutant with tracking abilities and an aversion to sunlight.
The action is visceral and gripping, with Logan and company leaving behind a trail of bodies large enough to give John Wick a run for his money. At times it feels like the movie is compensating for all those years of kid-friendly Wolverine movies, in the best way possible. The action scenes are mostly gritty and grounded, but there a few wonky CGI shots here and there: they’re quite rare but they can be a bit distracting.
The major problem with Logan is that it feels too relentless in its bleakness. Not so much because of excess, as it does not need to tone anything down, but rather because it doesn’t really hold on those moments that are supposed to let the audience breathe. Scenes like Logan, Charles and Laura having dinner with a family they met on the road, or staying at a hotel to rest could have been ever so slightly longer, just enough to counteract how harsh the rest of the movie is. Not that are no laughs to be had. Logan has got quite a few good jokes up its sleeve, a lot of them courtesy of Xavier.
Overall, this is a great movie and fantastic final outing for Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine and Patrick Stewart’s Charles Xavier. It goes for broke, and despite a few bumps in the road, delivers everything fans could have asked for and more.