Eight times over the past seventeen years, Hugh Jackman has played Wolverine, but the ninth is his last; he’s hanging up his adamantium claws for good. Fortunately for us (and him, I suppose) Jackman decided to go out with a bang and offer up his best performance yet. Heck, it may actually be (with the possible exception of his haunting turn in 2013’s Prisoners) the best work of his career.

Surprising, right? An actor doing noteworthy dramatic work in a comic book movie? But make no mistake—Logan is not your normal comic book movie. There’s nary a cape or mask to be seen, and far more emphasis is put on the man and his internal demons than on the action and crime-fighting.

The story gets underway in 2029; Logan is the last of a dying (or dead) breed. No new mutants have been born in the past 25 years, and he and Professor Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart) are all that remain of the old gang. He now whiles away the nighttime hours as a limo driver for hire in west Texas, and during the day he cares for the aged Xavier alongside mutant-tracker Caliban (Stephen Merchant). Logan is perpetually grumpy, and though he can still shred nefarious folk to pieces with his claws (as demonstrated in the film’s first scene), his verve, his mojo and his health are all fading.

Just as Logan seems content to quietly live out the remainder of his days without any more conflict, a young girl named Laura (Dafne Keen) enters the picture. And she has adamantium claws of her own. I’ll refrain from telling who she is or where she came from (though X-Men scholars, no doubt, are well-aware), but suffice to say her abilities are enough to get Logan and Xavier headed out on a road trip to North Dakota, home of a fictional mutant safe house the girl is hoping to reach. (Fictional, because Laura read about it in X-Men comic books. Meta-humor for the win!)

There are, of course, bad guys, led by bounty hunter Donald Pierce (the exceptional Boyd Holbrook), and naturally Logan does everything he can to stay one step ahead of them. Eventually, however, the chase comes to a bloody and ultra-violent end in the Badlands.

Director and co-writer James Mangold, who also helmed 2013’s The Wolverine, certainly goes all-out in the hyper-violence department; Logan is arguably the most bloody and intense superhero movie yet (save last year’s comically over-the-top Deadpool, but there’s much, much more going on than just Logan (and Laura) slicing-and-dicing people with their scissorhands.

Logan is, first and foremost, about Wolverine’s struggles with his place in the world. He’s been on the Earth for the better part of 140 years, and he’s wearing down. Jackman puts his all into the performance, giving us anything but a typical superhero. He’s beaten and haggard. Every violent outburst is quickly followed by a moment of catching his breath and trying to recover from the physical toll his body is undergoing. It’s rich, multi-layered work, giving the film a depth not usually associated with the Marvel Universe.

The X-Men franchise will go on, including the upcoming Deadpool sequel (which is teased in a funny pre-film short), but Jackman has said that he’s done. And it’s hard to think of a better way for him to go out.


4/5 stars