Welcome back, bub.
This weekend marks the opening of Logan, the tenth official X-Men film and Hugh Jackman’s last turn in a career-defining role as Logan/Wolverine.
With an R rating and copious, furious fight sequences, Logan is already being compared to last year’s superhero anomaly and to classic Westerns and road movies. It’s performing in the ninetieth percentile on Rotten Tomatoes and stunned fans at early screenings. The critics are satisfied and you can read on to know exactly why.
The A.V. Club’s A.A. Dowd wastes no time in briefing you on the basic facts of the movie: This is not the X-Men franchise you once knew.
By the end of the opening scene, in which some very dumb carjackers mess with the wrong furry loner, you know why this third and supposedly final entry in the solo Wolverine franchise has been handed an R rating. It went looking for one. The language is blue (the very first line, spoken by our aged antihero himself: “Fuck”) and the violence is red, with limbs hacked off and faces skewered. Logan is as brutal and bleak as any superhero movie in recent memory; they could have called this one X-Men: Apocalypse.
RogerEbert.com’s Brian Tallerico called Logan a “great movie for any genre,” distinguishing it from the superhero genre into which it no longer fits.
Gone is any sense of hyperactive editing or wide overhead shots to disguise the stunt and CGI work. We’re close to the action in this film, often shot from low to the ground, more like a “Bourne” film than a superhero movie, and the focus is more on fight choreography than editing. Jackman’s work in the fight scenes is smooth but also character-driven in that Wolverine’s style reflects the no-nonsense approach of the character. “Logan” also works in a few fantastic chase scenes later in the film, and again it doesn’t feel like the film stops and takes a break for set pieces as so many superhero movies do—the action is organic to the story and the characters, much like “” in that regard.
The Hollywood Reporter‘s Sheri Linden calls the film an “emotionally satisfying” chapter in the X-Men franchise, a film that finds strength even at its weakest due to Jackman’s performance:
Even as the film’s energy drains in the later going, much like Logan’s healing powers, and long after the fight scenes have lapsed into overkill, Jackman makes his superhero the real deal. The actor, who reportedly conceived the basic thrust of the story, takes the ever-conflicted Logan/Wolverine to full-blooded depths, and the result is a far more cohesive and gripping film than his previous collaboration with Mangold, 2013’s The Wolverine.
Owen Glieberman wrote for Variety that while the story has its flaws, Logan pulls off an amalgamated narrative:
“Logan” doesn’t get lost in CGI overkill or annoyingly messy Tinker-Toy franchise plotting. It’s a wholehearted drama made with a shot language that looks nearly classical. It must be said, however, that the story often feels stitched together from other films, a quality made explicit when the characters watch an extended scene from “Shane” on TV…But that turns out to be a recipe that brings the saga to a satisfying close.
In a review headlined “Logan could be the first superhero movie to get Best Picture nomination,” Forbes‘ Mark Hughes wrote:
We’ve had many great superhero movies over the years, but it takes a certain type and tone, a certain quality, a certain combination of factors — including directing, acting, scripting, and so on — to really be a serious contender. We’ve only had a very few that ever seemed to have a serious chance, and Logan joins those ranks because it’s one of the best of the best.
In a review for The Atlantic, David Sims echoes this sentiment, that Logan is quality cinematic experience and a conclusion worthy of its heroes.
This is a grimly violent movie, filled with vicious stabbings, frequent profanity, and a general sense of fatalism. It’s also quite good, selling itself as a Peckinpah-inspired Western about an old gunslinger riding out on one more doomed quest for glory. It would have been easy for Logan to retread the character’s greatest hits in another epic superhero battle, or to delight in the newly available levels of gore. It opts for something different, and it largely works, giving Jackman a worthy final chapter to hang his claws on.
Logan hits theaters nationwide March 3.