The evolution of the Wolverine franchise into Logan is an epic example of where superhero films needed to go.
More studios have joined the arms race of multi-hundred million dollar, super hero, brawler flicks -- which often see witty super-humans saving the world from imminent destruction -- while audiences have wanted a connection with the characters to become more important to the formula. Logan, the final film which will see Hugh Jackman portray his iconic role, 20th Century Fox and director James Mangold set out to meet those requirements.
Suffice it to say the early 4.29-of-5 ComicBook.com Anticipation Ratings -- which has set the bar high -- will be exceeded.
It's the year 2029 and mutants have all but gone by the wayside. Logan (Hugh Jackman) is forced into hiding out in an abandoned New Mexico factory, with Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart) being kept in a fallen water tower and his one friend Caliban (Stephen Merchant) around to help care for him. The most important factor of Logan's setting being a dozen years in the future, though, is that it does not have to abide by the often-confusing timelines put in place by the previous X-Men films.
Logan operates in its own world, despite often offering nostalgic call backs to its actors work together over the past 17 years.
As is inherent to any film, there is trouble in Logan's deserted little paradise. After a couple of encounters with a woman who could either be a Wolverine superfan (because X-Men comics exist in this movie, so they have fans) or somebody who desperately needs the retired hero's help, we are introduced to both X-23 (Dafne Keen) and the enhanced humans who are out to retrieve her, led by the aggravatingly charismatic Donald Pierce (Boyd Holdbrook).
While Logan is, in many ways, the perfect finale for Jackman's run as the character, it's Keen and Stewart who are often stealing the screen. X-23, also known as Laura Kinney, claws her way into both the audience's and her enemies' hearts.
Keen portrays a damaged young girl with often animalistic traits wonderfully but what's most impressive is her ability, as a an actress yet to reach her teenage years, to portray the gritty and ruthless scenes in which she removes limbs from and decapitates enemies.
The addition of a young actress to the film does not make it, by any means, a light-hearted, fun outing to the movies.
Logan is dark.
Logan is violent.
Logan is intimately violent.
(Hugh Jackman is Wolverine in Logan)
Scenes take extremely unexpected turns towards blood pouring out of characters, including the ancillary faces, which moviegoers are typically unprepared for. That is what makes the film so remarkable. Logan takes risks which other films do not, something to be credited to its passionate director, James Mangold, and they often times payoff.
There are moments in Logan which it tip-toes the line of going too far with its brutality. One scene, a little more than half way through the film, leaves viewers incapable of reeling their bottom jaw back to its place as emotional violence consumes the screen. For some, the moments may be overwhelming, but Mangold injects an appropriate amount of intimacy into the scene as Logan is forced to peel back the curtain which has been hiding his heart and, in turn, inject a necessary amount of it to accept the events which are unfolding before our eyes.
The film is balanced by Stewart's performance. The actor puts his chops on display like never before in this role. Stewart has been a staple of the X-Men movies for years for his portrayal of the good guy leader of mutants around the world. Logan, however, pushes him further than any film before. As Charles' brain has begun degenerating with age he has become a threat to humanity. Stewart often provides the levity Logan requires through subtle facial expressions, warm remarks which go against Logan's selfish wishes, and his sense of wisdom over the brash characters around him but there's something about watching him roll around in a wheelchair reciting Taco Bell ads and spewing F-words which stand out above the rest.
Of course, Logan is being touted as the grand finale for Jackman and it is just that. It's the grandest finale of them all. Jackman clearly gives everything he has to his final round as the Wolverine, which is never more clear than his final action-packed sequences. As the runtime on Logan winds down, longtime fans of the X-Men franchise can feel the end is near but will find themselves audibly cheering for the mutant slicing across the screen before them. It is impossible not to rally behind this exciting sendoff for Jackman as he wears the farewell across his face.
Best of all, the Wolverine is given his very own version of the popular Quicksilver scene from X-Men: Days of Future Past. He doesn't run so fast that everything appears to be frozen but, in a more fitting to the character manner, he struggles to save those important to him while in great pain in one of Mangold's most creative and raw sequences.
Logan is unlike any comic book movie before it thanks to Jackman and Stewart's chemistry, Mangold's willingness to take risks, and 20th Century Fox allowing all of this to happen under an R-rating.
Each sequence, including the few which appeared to be veering slightly off track on the way to Jackman's final moments as a mutant, culminate to make Logan an emotional masterpiece. It is a movie which will raise the bar for movies featuring super heroes going forward. Emotional gut punches, risky filmmaking choices, and beautiful performances from Jackman, Stewart, and Keen make Logan an absolute must see movie for anyone who can handle it.
Bottom Line: Logan is a violent, emotional masterpiece and the perfect ending to Hugh Jackman's run as the Wolverine. 4.5/5
MORE LOGAN: Why Pierce Is After X-23 / Holbrook Reveals When The Predator Films / Patrick Stewart Reveals Differences In Charles Xavier / X-Men Challenging The Avengers / Logan Is Hugh Jackman's Favorite / Patrick Stewart's Favorite X-Memories / How Deadpool Influenced Logan / Hugh Jackman Rules Out Returning
Logan hits theaters March 3, 2017.