By Darin Skaggs
The superhero genre is a mess and no other series are messier than the X-Men movies. You could make an argument for the current state of the DC movie universe, but at least those are consistent in their tone and quality. The X-Men series has hit every point of quality from bad (X-Men: The Last Stand, X-Men: Apocalypse), pretty good (X-Men, X-Men: First Class) and excellent (X2, X-Men: Days of Future Past). The next X-Men movie, which is also the third of the standalone Wolverine movies, is also the last (or so it’s told) for Hugh Jackman as his famous character. The movie is Logan directed by James Mangold, the director of The Wolverine which is the previous film for the clawed hero which I found quiet enjoyable.
This final outing takes place in the year 2029 and Logan is taking care of an aging Professor Xavier (Patrick Stewart) somewhere out in the dessert. It is clear that something terrible has happened to the other X-Men, but never really elaborated on. The two wish to get enough money to get a boat and go live out the rest of their days on the water. That is interrupted when another mutant, which is more than rare in this time, is brought to his attention. She is named Laura (Dafne Keen) who has a lot of similarities to our hero. When a bad guy called Pierce (Boyd Holbrook) comes after Laura, a reluctant Logan takes her and Professor X across the states to a place that she and other mutants have been told to flee for their safety.
Logan’s clear theme is the effects aging has on you. At this point Logan has lost all of his friends, in what seems to be some freak accident. He is also taking care of Professor X who is losing his memory and control of his powers. Their relationship has become of a man taking care of his father, they even pretend to be father and son in a later scene when on the run. This is also the first movie we see Wolverine’s healing powers slowing down as well. There is a wonderful scene where one of his claws is not fully coming out of his knuckles and he has to pull it out. There are lots of moments like that where both mutants are just not what they used to be. They are trying to keep out of trouble and hanging out in the middle of nowhere due to the uncontrollable destruction that Xavier is capable of. Along with them is another mutant Caliban (Stephen Merchant), who cannot go outside while the sun is shining and has the power to sense where other mutants are located. When they realize that someone is after Laura they know they have to run and despite their tiredness and sickness. In every other X-Men film you see Logan chomping on a cigar, you can take the sickness as a cancer that has come back to haunt him with thinking he was invincible (for good reason.) These themes get wonderful performances out of Hackman and Stewart, doing their best work in any X-Men film ever.
While the themes in the movie are good and have a strong emotional core the film also has pretty great action. There was a big deal that the film was rated R for language and violence. The film is grittier, and rougher which makes sense because at this point in Logan’s life he has lost enough to not care about anything or having any manners. When the violence does come, which is smartly spread out enough to never be overbearing, it is brutal. It often has Wolverine shoving his claws right into henchman’s brains. There are a couple sequences that have clunky edited action sequences where I could not pin point what was happening, but most of them worked as exciting set pieces. For other aspects that did not really work, the bad guy in the movie does not have much to offer. Pierce is a villain we have all seen before, he is known for being good at his job, does not do much and talks a whole lot about what he needs to get done. This seems to happen with superhero films where the movie is concerned with exploring its character like Guardians of the Galaxy and the Iron Man films, which lets the villain take the sidelines. It is a bummer, the movie could have been top tier, which in some ways it is, but this brings it down a bit. Other than that the movie is an exciting, emotional send off of a beloved character.