Rated X

“Why should you never make an agreement with me? Because of my retractable clause. Get it?”

“Why should you never make an agreement with me? Because of my retractable clause. Get it?”

Director: James Mangold

Starring: Hugh Jackman, Patrick Stewart, Dafne Keen

Rated 5.0

And now for something completely different …

Hugh Jackman—allegedly—says goodbye to Wolverine with Logan, a total shocker of a superhero movie that lays waste to the X-Men and standalone Wolverine movies that came before it. Director James Mangold, who piloted the decent The Wolverine, revamps the character’s mythos, and pulls along Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart) for the gritty, bloody, nasty, awesome ride.

It’s the future, and the X-Men are gone. A mutant hasn’t been born in a quarter of a century, and Logan isn’t looking too hot. He’s driving a limo to make ends meet, coughing up blood, and basically not aging well.

He’s doing a lot better than Xavier, the mutant formally known as Professor X, who’s prone to seizures and suffering from some sort of degenerative brain disease. Logan has to keep him in a big empty tank to shield the world from his spells, which can cause major physical distress to those in the vicinity, including Logan. He’s assisted in caring for Xavier by Caliban (comedian Stephen Merchant), an albino mutant with mind powers.

In short, the days of X-Men glory are way, way over, with Logan and Xavier having a shit time in their autumn years.

Just when it seems as if the pair will waste away in their miserable existence, along comes Laura (a dynamite Dafne Keen). She’s a genetically engineered mutant equipped with the same retractable claws and viciously bad temper as Logan. When her life becomes endangered, Logan throws her and Xavier in the back of his vehicle, and they are off on one wild, dark road trip.

To say this movie is violent would be an understatement. On the heels of Deadpool and its R-rated success, Mangold and company have let the flesh and profanity rip with this one. Mangold brings some of his Western chops (He directed the 3:10 to Yuma remake.) to the proceedings, even making direct references to Shane. It’s remarkable the liberties he’s been allowed to take with an otherwise family-friendly franchise. People die hard in this one. Nobody sports any fancy uniforms.

The action scenes are flawless, top-notch enterprises, a marvel of special effects and awards-worthy editing. There is a scene in this movie that is one of the best scenes I have ever seen in an action film. The sequence involves Xavier having an especially bad seizure. That’s all I’m going to give away. Believe me, you’ll know it when you see it.

Jackman has always been a terrific Wolverine. Of all of the “superhero” performances through the years, he goes into the Hall of Fame with the likes of Reeve, Keaton, Bale and Downey, Jr. He’s all in for this picture, and he’s finally allowed to take Logan, a.k.a. Wolverine, to his most violent, sadistic extremes. There’s no holding back with his work here. It’s a fitting conclusion to his run with the character.

There’s a long way to go in the film year, but Stewart should already be getting some Oscar buzz for his turn in this movie. While Jackman takes Wolverine to an extreme some of us geeks might expect, Stewart is allowed to explore the sad, broken side of Xavier, and it’s absolutely heartbreaking. He honestly has some of the greatest moments of his career in this film, and the same can most certainly be said for Jackman.

All elements of this movie are Grade A spectacular, and we’ll just make the call right now. Logan is one of the very best comic book films ever made, and if you were to call it the all-time best, you probably wouldn’t be met with much opposition. It’s an example of a great idea delivered with stupendous results.

So, it’s only March, and the last two weeks have given us Get Out and Logan. The movie year is off to one of its better starts in many years. As for the X-Men franchise, it’s doubtful the accomplishments of Logan will ever be topped, but it will be interesting to see somebody try.