Hugh Jackman throws a great, gritty retirement party

Film | by Jorge Ignacio Castillo

4 out of 5

By all accounts the final X-Men film for Hugh Jackman and Patrick Stewart, Logan doesn’t feel like part of the mutant cinematic universe: it’s a gritty, R-rated affair soaked in guilt and anger.

It’s also the best Wolverine solo outing by far and a breath of fresh air after the overstuffed and underwhelming X-Men: Apocalypse.

The Logan we encounter in 2029 is a long way from prime Wolverine. He has aged and isn’t healing as fast as he used to. It’s not surprising: there are very few mutants left, and no new generation to replace them (shades of Children of Men). As for the ones that remain, former villain Caliban (Stephen Merchant) is his only acquaintance outside Professor X, who is battling dementia. Frequent seizures cause his telepathic abilities to flare out of control, to no one’s enjoyment.

Logan’s life on the fringes of society comes to an end when he becomes involved with a young mutant, Laura. The girl is surly as heck and her fighting skills are formidable. Along with Laura comes trouble, in the form of corporate mercenaries with unlimited resources and high-tech weaponry in hot pursuit. Logan, Professor X and the girl go on the run, their odds of survival diminishing with every new scratch the once invincible Wolverine endures.

While the plot is predictable, Logan excels as character study. Wolverine has developed a death wish, not unreasonable when you’re basically indestructible. His relationship with Charles Xavier has mutated from master-pupil to father-son to bickering married couple.

Director James Mangold (Walk the Line, 3:10 to Yuma) has a knack for dealing with flawed leads, and shapes Logan’s many blemishes (emotionally shut down, alcoholic and curt) into a vulnerable hero whose journey has stakes. Comparatively speaking, Logan is low in CGI, which adds in terms of vibe and grit. More than a stylistic choice, it makes the story more relatable.

Logan makes the most of its R-rating. Those adamantium claws cause serious damage (and it’s a little weird that after eight appearances, we just now get to see the carnage). Also, we find out Professor X curses a lot more than expected. Beyond that, the spectre of death is present in most scenes. It’s not “when will it come”, but “how do you want to go out?”Hugh Jackman’s final entry is the right way to go out. Everything about the final minutes — including the credits song — is unforgettable.