Logan (2017)

(Video On-Demand, July 2017) The X-Men series has been inconsistent lately, so it’s both a surprise and not a surprise to see Logan end up in the top tier of superhero movies. This third and far superior third volume in the incoherent Wolverine trilogy dares to provide an end for one of its iconic characters. It may be rebooted in a future film, but who cares: Logan is self-contained, definitive and exceptionally well-handled as a mournful future western with low and personal stakes rather than a save-the-world blockbuster. Hugh Jackman is, as usual, quite good as Wolverine—this installment asks him to do far more from an emotional standpoint as one of the last mutants on an Earth that is glad to see them gone, far less powerful than ever before as his healing capabilities are slow to regenerate after fights. For writer/director James Mangold, this is a bit of a quiet triumph, departing from the usual superhero clichés in order to dig deep into the human condition. The action sequences are perfunctory, the future barely sketched (although with some nice background detail, such as driverless trucks) and the film does rely quite a bit on previous material … but it’s well packaged and strikingly different at a time when even major superhero spectacles feel like rote repetition. Logan takes the superhero genre in a different and welcome direction—hopefully it won’t lead to a copycat trend. In the meantime, enjoy the putative end to Jackman’s Wolverine… I’m sure it won’t last.

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