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James Mangold's Logan is the definitive Wolverine movie. Somber, mature, reflective and destructive, Logan arguably could be called the best X-Men movie, period. It is, for sure, the Wolverine movie that lifelong X-Men, Marvel, and superhero fans have been waiting for Hugh Jackman to make -- the "Holy Grail" feature we've routinely been promised, right before something like X-Men: Origins -- Wolverine shows up and disappoints.
Yes, I fully understand that the previous two spinoff Wolverine movies centered around Jackman's version of the irritable, clawed mutant were: 1) Abysmal (for Origins), and; 2) Underwhelming (for The Wolverine). But as it turns out, those painful yet necessary steps provided teachable moments for Mangold, Jackman and anyone who has ever contributed to a Wolverine story. And with Logan, all of those lessons finally paid off.
The year is 2029. The majority of mutant-kind has been eradicated. Surly survivor Logan (Jackman) makes ends meet by working as a chauffeur, his superhero days as The Wolverine being in the rearview mirror. Logan's saving up to buy a boat, which he plans to use to transport his old teacher, Professor X (Patrick Stewart), off the main land and into the middle of the ocean... where he won't be in danger of harming anyone again. You see, Xavier's powers -- much like Wolverine's powers -- are failing with old age. Only, when Charles' powers malfunction, they put the planet at risk.
Part of the reason why Logan manages to be so emotionally effective is because it arrives late in the process for Jackman (and Stewart, to a lesser degree). The actor has been wearing the claws -- and carrying the baggage -- of this complicated character for 17 years, and he lets those miles show in every haggard look on display in Logan. Jackman full comprehends exactly what Wolverine needs to convey in each Logan scene -- whether its concern or compassion, remorse or berserker rage -- because he has occupied this character's skin for so long. It's second nature, and the decisions he makes along every painstaking step of Logan help ensure the movie's masterful success.
It helps that we've been carrying that baggage alongside Wolvie for nine films (including his various appearances in assorted X-Men movies over the years), as well. It's a happy accident of convenient timing and intelligent decisions that Jackman is playing a weary and worn-down version of Wolverine for his final cinematic chapter, because knowing this is Jackman's swan song in the role lends another layer of significance to the type of story Mangold chooses to tell in Logan. Our hero is old. Our hero is sick (and isn't healing the way he used to). Our hero is caring for an elderly father figure in Charles. And when someone in need comes knocking, our hero might be too tired this time to answer the call.
That someone is Laura (Dafne Keen), a fantastic addition to Wolverine's on-screen mythos who comes from the pages of Marvel's comics. Fans will know her as X-23 (and they'll get the connections that come with that reveal), but for non-comic fans, she's a variation of Wolverine, a byproduct of a similar experiment that coated Logan's bone claws with adamantium. Here, Mangold has discovered a brilliant and ferociously talented young actress who nearly steals away Jackman's triumphant farewell. Laura is feral and wounded, and Keen -- who is roughly 12 -- gives a steely, visceral and fully badass performance as the pint-sized warrior left in Logan's care. She is trying to ... let's just say "complete a task." And she needs Logan's reluctant help to do it. How they get things done is the meat of Logan, and I'll leave it up to you guys to enjoy it.
Logan doesn't follow the superhero blueprint, though that's a check in its favor. There are villains, yes, but the real antagonist staring down Wolverine is time, and fate. Cities aren't leveled in this movie's various fight sequences, and the consequences of major decisions aren't comically exaggerated. By grounding the film's action, and painting on a relatively small-scale canvas, James Mangold and Hugh Jackman raise the bar on the types of stories you can tell with superheroes -- thereby redefining what the term Superhero Movie even means in the year 2017.
Without giving too much away, I'll say that by the end of Logan, I couldn't believe how much Mangold and Jackman were able to accomplish with this final, fantastic movie. I was floored by the film's impact on the legacy of this timeless character. I was deeply moved by Jackman's soulful, intense and, yes, Oscar-worthy performance, which draws from every appearance as the Wolverine but also puts a period on the end of the sentence that the actor started writing in the first X-Men movie. And I left Logan fully satiated by the totality of Wolverine's on-screen journey. When it comes to Hugh Jackman's unprecedented run as Wolverine, they saved the best for last.