Hugh Jackman has now appeared in nine X-Men movies. “Logan” is by far the stabbiest.
People are eviscerated, dismembered and decapitated. On top of the bloody mayhem, the film’s first line is a single f-bomb. Many, many more follow.
I’m throwing this out there up front to give fair warning to parents who want to dress their youngling in a blue and yellow Wolverine costume left over from Halloween and head to the cineplex. As the former X-Man says in the film, “Not OK!”
Seriously. “Logan” is the violent, brutal and gory R-rated Wolverine movie 40-something fanboys have always wanted. It’s most definitely for grown-ups.
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It’s also very, very good.
This chapter takes place in the very near future, after most of the marvelous mutant X-Men are dead and gone.
His superheroing days behind him, Logan (Jackman) spends his nights chauffeuring drunk young morons around the Texas-Mexico border, then boozing himself comatose. By day, he cares for his dying mentor, Professor Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart).
With the help of the albino mutant tracker Caliban (Stephen Merchant), Logan has sequestered Professor X in a collapsed water tower, its metal shell dampening the former schoolmaster’s powerful telepathic mind, now ravaged by dementia.
Enter Laura (Dafne Keen), a feral orphan girl whose metal claws may signal a connection to our merry mutant antihero.
Pursued by the cybernetic hired gun Pierce (Boyd Holbrook), Logan, Laura and Professor X take off on an exodus across middle America in search of a fabled mutant utopia. There, the girl hopes to rendezvous with other new mutants who escaped from the same facility in which she was raised as experiment X-23.
Part Western, part road movie, “Logan” is director James Mangold’s second shot at the mutant hero. The two films share a similar conceit. Logan spent much of 2013’s “The Wolverine” powerless. And in “Logan,” he has aged to the point where his super-healing powers ain’t what they used to be. He’s scarred, beaten, bruised and battered. When he’s cut, he bleeds awhile.
But where “The Wolverine” started strong and devolved into another ridiculously forgettable comic-book-movie smash-’em-up, “Logan” remains true to its vision. It is gritty without being dark, grim without being dire. It’s also a tragedy that never loses hope.
That’s due in large part to the synergy among the leads. Jackman, who has said this is his last X-Men movie, dials back the anger to create a world-weary Wolverine. Stewart plays the professor with the same charm and humor we’ve come to see in his post-“Star Trek” online persona.
And Keen is just fabulous. Her Lil’ Wolvie is part Saoirse Ronan in “Hanna,” part Hit-Girl from “Kick-Ass.” She’s equal parts terrifying and adorable.
“Logan” isn’t perfect. It shows Professor X’s powers going out of control one too many times. A topless scene is the definition of gratuitous. And the story’s reliance on the movie “Shane” softens an otherwise satisfying ending.
The film also unapologetically assumes the audience will know the characters. The uninitiated may find this confusing; I actually found it a welcome relief.
But from stunt work to editing and idea to execution, “Logan” is not only the best of the Fox X-Men movies, it’s second only to “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” among the Marvel properties.
Just, please, leave the kiddos at home.
Rated R. Time: 2:15.
Hugh Jackman joins the circus
Hugh Jackman says “Logan” is his last Wolverine movie. What’s next? P.T. Barnum.
Jackman, 48, is filming “The Greatest Showman,” his musical about the showboating impresario who built Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus.
Jackman spent several years helping to develop the biopic — “I probably thought there was a 50-50 chance of it being made,” he told The New York Times — and seeing it take shape has made him enthusiastic about his post-X-Men future. “I’m a little addicted to movies feeling personal, if not life or death, so that there’s really something at stake, and win or lose, it feels right.”
Michelle Williams plays his wife, Charity, and Rebecca Ferguson is the woman he’s infatuated with, Swedish opera singer Jenny Lind. Zac Efron plays his right-hand-man, who is in love with a trapeze artist, played by singer Zendaya.
And this bodes well: The music is by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul, who just won the best song Oscar for “La La Land.”
It’s due in theaters Christmas Day.
Sharon Hoffmann, firstname.lastname@example.org