Running Time: 135 mins.
Premise: The year is 2029, and mutants are nearly extinct. Logan a/k/a Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) is hiding out near the Texas border with Charles Xavier a/k/a Professor X (Patrick Stewart) but the two find themselves on the run when a young mutant arrives, being pursued by deadly mercenaries.
Behind-the-Scenes: This is Jackman's ninth appearance as Wolverine and, according to Jackman himself, it will be his last. He originated the role back in 2000 with the original X-Men. Director James Mangold (3:10 to Yuma, Walk the Line) previously helmed the last solo Wolverine flick, aptly named The Wolverine. Mangold and Jackman have been wanting to do an R-rated take on the character for a while now, but it took the success of Fox's Deadpool last year for the studio to finally pull the trigger.
The Good: Almost immediately, Logan separates itself from all prior X-franchise films by offering a realistic, gritty and definitely R-rated superhero tale. Its differences are its best asset. Deliberate in its pacing, and often contemplative, Mangold and his screenwriters take the material seriously. Unshackled by having to fit this story within a larger narrative or set up future films, Logan shows the heretofore untapped potential of comic book films by offering a smaller scale, one-off, genre-specific story motivated more by character arcs than extraneous world-ending cataclysms. Jackman, in turn, proves more than up to the challenge of playing a hard-drinking, world-weary Logan suffering from a broken body and crushed soul. He's excellent here, in a role that has defined his career and could just net him a Best Actor nomination come next February. Stewart is equally fantastic as a mentally unstable Xavier. Watching the two of them tear into this juicy material is thrilling. Newcomer Dafne Keen is a revelation as the young mutant, known as X-23. She's amazing and more than holds her own opposite Jackman in terms of intensity. The action is brutal and exciting, with a truly spectacular car chase near the start. The final shot is absolutely perfect, and brings the film to a potently symbolic end.
The Bad: The deliberate pacing means some sequences go on a little too long, resulting in a padded running time that could have used some trimming. The villains are blandly conceived. There's an exposition-heavy use of a character's cell phone footage at one point that seems to be edited way too conveniently.
Should You See It?: Yes. If this is Jackman's final bow, it's one hell of a way to go out on top.
Star Rating: **** out of 5 stars.
Better Than: X-Men, X2, X-Men: First Class
Worse Than: The Dark Knight, Captain America: Civil War
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