The tenth film in the X-Men film series and the third and final instalment in the Wolverine trilogy, Logan, directed by James Mangold, is set in 2029 in alternate bleak future where mutants are nearly all gone, as it follows an aged and isolated Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) and his only companions, the outcast Caliban (Stephen Merchant) and an extremely ill Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart) whose singular mind is plagued by worsening seizures. But Logan’s attempts to hide from the world and his legacy abruptly end when a mysterious woman appears with an urgent request: that Logan shepherd an extraordinary young mutant girl, Laura (Dafne Keen), to safety, as they must escape the capture of the villainous Reavers, led by Donald Pierce (Boyd Holbrook) and Zander Rice (Richard E. Grant).
The X-Men films have been hit and miss, but Wolverine, despite the quality of his origin films, will forever be one of the best superheroes of all time, especially with Jackman having played the role for 17 years now. And what a perfect film this is for Jackman to say goodbye to the role. He really has made it his own and the franchise would not have been the same without him.
Nor without Stewart as Professor X, the most important character in the X-Men series. So to see them both come together in this film and for it to focus prominently on only them, this is all we could want from a closing instalment. To see how their characters have wound up after the events of their previous films together and how the weights of their pasts have shaped them is extremely impacting.
We’re used to them working together for the good of others and enjoying the quips that bounce between them, but there’s no joking around in this film. When you’re starting to find superhero films predictable and relying on them making you laugh rather than feeling the relentless pressure and struggles of what it is to be a hero, Logan is a breath of fresh air in a genre that rarely surprises any more. It’s not an easy watch and far from anywhere you would expect the franchise to end up, but Mangold concludes the franchise in the best way possible.
Whilst this film brilliantly rounds-up Wolverine’s character and his trilogy of standalone films, it feels completely different from any other X-Men film in almost every way possible. That’s because of how down-beaten the world and all of the characters involved have ended up. Wolverine is rotting away and Professor X is losing his sense of control in a world where there seems to be no hope left, as it soon strikes home that things are more doom and gloom than a saving-the-world celebratory party.
It may not be the setting for these characters that you were expecting to see, but the bleak future world feels very much like the natural progression of the X-Men story. Detailed and visualised brilliantly, it works incredibly well as a backdrop to Wolverine’s current personal confrontations. It is violent, gritty and full of gore, exploring some heavy states of mind along the way. But it is this character-driven narrative that allows for two phenomenal and compelling performances from Jackman and Stewart, with both of them giving a heartfelt, touching and dignified farewell to their iconic characters.
You may have felt like you knew these characters beforehand, but Logan doesn’t stick to what we know and simply tie things up for them. Instead, it adds so much more to their character structures, allowing this to become its own film (although an excellent continuation of the franchise all the same) rather than relying on other film-makers’ styles and tones.
It’s very stripped back, doing exactly what it wants to do whilst respecting the characters and the cinematic universe they come from at the same time, giving audiences a whole new reason to love Jackman as Wolverine and Stewart as Professor X as we see them tred the way for a new generation of heroes and villains.