-The ‘X-Men’ franchise as we know it may end, but it’s arguably never been better.
This grizzled Wolverine character was really something special.
It’s been 17 years since Hugh Jackman became a household name in his portrayal of arguably the most famous X-Man, carrying the character of Logan through several different time periods and different iterations of the same universe. It’s fitting that his departure is his best work in the series, and with no offense to X2 or Deadpool, I think that Logan is the best X-Men movie we’ve ever gotten.
It’s 2029, and Logan/Wolverine has begun to lose his power to regenerate after getting injured. He heals a bit slower, and his abilities are clearly diminished, seemingly in constant pain from the years of injuries. Rather than heal perfectly, his body is now covered in scars, and he spends his nights as a limo driver in Texas. During the days, he goes into Mexico to check on the exiled Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart) going through dangerous seizures and losing his grip on reality ever so slightly. The seizures activate a wide range of telekinetic abilities that they struggle to control, with Logan or the other remaining mutant Caliban (Stephen Merchant) caring for Charles.
It’s years after the government extermination of mutants, led by a team of ‘Reavers’ and their captain Donald Pierce (Boyd Holbrook). The U.S. designed a program called ‘Transgien’ that was used to take the DNA of X-Men that they captured and re-breed it into children that they could control. When the program failed, many of them escaped, and they then focused their energy on a new Weapon X program.
Logan rediscovers his purpose when he learns that a young girl with his abilities named Laura (Dafne Keen) is trying to flee North and seek asylum in Canada. With the Reavers red-hot on their tail, the injured and tired Logan gears up for one final adventure.
The world-building here is really interesting. It’s the kind of dystopia that is founded in very rustic colors, almost like a dirty, more impoverished future. The technology is only moderately improved, although many of the Reavers use cyborg arms and parts for a reason that’s never really addressed. More than anything I definitely appreciate the commitment to make this film seem more like a ‘Mad Max’ style future than anything else. It fits Wolverine’s personality more, and there were moments where I felt really immersed in this backdrop.
In addition to the slightly futuristic backdrop, it was really nice also to watch the growth of Logan’s personality as a protector/father figure. He learns to care for the young Laura, but also shows a more vulnerable side than we’re used to seeing from him, Jackman does his best work of the series, and Boyd Holbrook was a nice addition as a villain. There’s some X-Men consistencies in the sub-plotting also, using different Wolverine clones as various versions of the Weapon X ideal. These fun cookies for long-term fans are also bolstered by the bloody, rated R action that does legitimize the more gruff and dark tone that the movie tries to take. In a world dominated by the incessantly charming and fun to a fault Marvel films, X-Men has countered with a new type of environment that is still occasionally funny, but relies on long-standing characters and a well-directed vision from James Mangold to turn in a superhero effort that stands out from the pack.
Director: James Mangold (Walk the Line, The Wolverine, Cop Land, 3:10 to Yuma, Heavy)
Starring: Hugh Jackman, Patrick Stewart, Dafne Keen, Boyd Holbrook, and Stephen Merchant
RT Score: 93%