Logan ★★★★½

Initially my expectations for this movie weren't that high. I'm not much of a fan of the X-Men franchise and I do find the first two Wolverine solo outings particularly bad. What got me on board were the trailers. They left me with the impression that this actually could be an interesting film. Also I like Hugh Jackman and Patrick Stewart, and director James Mangold has made two films, that I really like a lot. Identity, and Cop Land where he managed to get a genuinely good performance out of Sylvester Stallone. Go figure!

Jackman's last appearance as Wolverine very well may be one of the best comic book films ever made. I purposely avoided the term "superhero film" because in the end it is as much a superhero film as Nolan's The Dark Knight trilogy was. For those of you who are about to go into cardiac arrest, rest assured this is the only aspect they have in common. Logan would be best described as the old Johnny Cash meets the original Mad Max. A noirish western set in a world gone to shit where hardly any mutants are left. Our hero has grown old and weary of life. His self-healing powers are dwindling away, he is depressed, self-doubt gnaws on his mind. Seeking solace in booze only makes matters worse. On top of his own problems he has to take care of a senile Charles Xavier, who is no longer able to control his mental powers. So when he encounters the young mutant girl Laura who is chased by a company that attempts to create super soldiers, he is more than only a bit reluctant to get involved.

It's a grim, remorseless scenario the filmmakers set up, fully confiding in Jackman's ability to get the audience to care for their abrasive protagonist. And it works beautifully, Jackman turned in a possibly career-best performance. Patrick Stewart also brought his A game but the real highlight is Dafne Keen as Laura. She has hardly any dialogue yet she commands almost every scene she is in.

And in case you wondered if Logan earned its R-rating, it most definitely did. While it is batshit violent it never crosses the line to become self-indulgent and gratuitous. Unlike Deadpool which used its violence only as a gimmick, Logan is clearly targeted at an mature audience. Its bleak, hopeless tone often reminds me of Watchmen. Thanks to Jackman's gut-wrenching, nuanced performance the film possesses the emotional weight to provide the bleakness with a solid foundation. It's a small scale film in regard to the world it shows and the action scenes never get near the bloated spectacle of so many other comic book movies. Yet the emotional impact is far greater than any CG crapfest could ever deliver.

Though without major flaws Logan may not be a perfect film, but it certainly is a worthy and suprisingly thoughtful swan song for Hugh Jackman's Wolverine respectively Patrick Stewart's incarnation of Charles Xavier.

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