In the year 2029, mutants are dying out. None have been born in decades, and survivors hide from the world. They live on in comic books that fictionalize their powers and exploits.
Logan (Hugh Jackman: Eddie the Eagle) used to be a comic hero. He was called Wolverine when he worked with the X-Men, before he abandoned the fight for truth and justice. Logan now works menial jobs, saving money to buy a boat and escape to sea with his mentor, powerful psychic Professor X, Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart: Blunt Talk). This is not a pleasure cruise. Xavier has seizures that radiate a mile of painful deaths.
Desperate for money, Logan is hired by a terrified woman who begs him to take her daughter Laura (Dafne Keen: The Refugees) to a safe haven. Laura, she claims, is a mutant hunted by the government. Logan is skeptical until he sees Laura’s frightening powers.
Xavier persuades him to help, and soon, Logan’s taking a kid he doesn’t want to a place he doesn’t believe in, lugging along a sick and dangerous old man.
A bloody drama masquerading as an X-Men movie, Logan is by far the best offering of the mutant film series. Dark, pensive and violent, it explains why Logan is angry and withdrawn. Director James Mangold (The Wolverine) has slowly been building the Logan character into the grizzled anti-hero so beloved in comic books. Now Mangold abandons the family-friendly Marvel veneer for a character piece that offers surprising depth and excellent performances. You’ll see just how bloody those cool Marvel battles would be if set in a realistic environment. The story has substance as well, weaving in commentary about migrant populations, unregulated corporations and a militarized government.
Over nine films, Jackman has perfected Logan’s gruff look and nature. It is shocking, however, to see what that actor can do with a fully realized character to play. Instead of spouting catch phrases and chomping on a cigar, Jackman puts in real emotional work, showing just how badly the world has beaten him.
As his nearly silent sidekick, Keen is a real find. With an expressive face, impressive combat skills and impeccable comic timing, she holds her own in scenes with Jackman and Stewart. Keen’s Laura is more than a precocious kid. Near feral, she is a danger to herself and others.
Logan is not word-accurate to the Wolverine comics, but it is what every comic-book movie should aspire to be: A relatable human story writ large. This film proves it’s possible to make a good drama out of a superhero film.
Great Action • R • 137 mins.