Basically: The best Wolverine movie, one of the best X-Men movies, and a damn good two hours too.
It’s 2029 and The Wolverine is an old man now. We’ll call him Old Man Logan (even though that’s a different story). Old Man Logan is grizzled, walks with a limp, and snarls more like a wounded animal than he growls like the predator we once adored. Still we know this guy. Even with his hands wrapped around the steering wheel of a limousine, the adamantium claws are still present—just below the surface. Although they’re much slower to unsheath. The allegiances have remained as well. Logan (Hugh Jackman) is taking care of an aged highly medicated Professor Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart), in the way we’d care for an ailing parent. Mutants aren’t being born anymore. A handful of them are keeping their kind from eXtinction. They’re getting by in a world happy to have left them behind. Until the day a woman and a oddly familiar little girl come looking for Old Man Logan and Charles. That’s when it all goes to hell. The girl is codenamed X-23 and if she’d been at Léon’s side in The Professional (rather than Natalie Portman’s Mathilda) Léon would still be in the assassin game—winning.
Logan, the movie, compares itself to classic westerns like Shane (1953) but its formula comes from 1980s sci-fi flicks with an added nod to the rogue samurai films of the same era. Similar to recent nostalgic hits like Stranger Things, you’ll be able to point out scenes inspired by your favorite 80s movies: Starman, Mad Max, The Terminator, a little Die Hard too… They’re all there. To prove it, Logan starts with our hero fighting a Latin-American street gang that’s trying to steal his car. I wish I was joking. I’m not, I just wish I was. Here’s the good part: I’m not joking when I tell you Logan is a good movie.
The film succeeds in the same way those high-octane, bloody, action-filled, 80s sci-fi road movies did. It has consequences and sacrifice. The themes and symbolism hit home. It possesses an emotional core that endears each of the characters to us. The cast is outstanding, delivering performances that compel and surprise. The stand out is Dafne Keen who plays the feral but lovable X-23 aka Laura. This girl is everything you want in an action hero; she’s layered, mysterious, fierce, sympathetic, and funny. And she’s 11 years old. (Isn’t that a strange thing?) At the end, Logan leaves you affected by the journey you’ve just taken, and you don’t regret a moment.
If you’re not ready to go buy your ticket yet, Logan also succeeds as an X-Men movie. The writers (James Mangold, Scott Frank, Michael Green) and director (Mangold) work in a treasure chest of easter eggs and fan appreciation. It’s clear they actually read the comics. (Hello, Weapon X and X-23.) That’s a nice surprise. The banter between Logan and Prof X feels true. Best of all, Prof X curses like a grumpy old man—it’s glorious.
In the end: Whether you’re an 80s sci-fi, classic western, ronin, or X-Men fan, it’s all in there and it’s all good. 8.5 and highly recommended. See it now.