Logan is a bold, risk-taking superhero film. For the most part, it is a character-driven piece on mortality and past mistakes. Hugh Jackman and Patrick Stewart give the best performances of their careers and director James Mangold takes full advantage of the R rating at his disposal. This is the most legit take on Wolverine, a hard R rating that does the Wolverine justice and possibly the most violent superhero movie I have ever seen or, at the very least, right up there with Blade.
A vastly different comic book movie simply because it decides to focus on chracter more than action, there has never been a grimmer movie in the Marvel catalogue than "Logan." The film opens with a bang as Wolverine mutilates a Mexican gang in Texas trying to steal his ride. It's in these opening moments that you realize this won't be your average comic book movie. This is a mature take on the genre and the most essential addition to to the X-Men catalogue.
Jackman's performance is incendiary. His Logan is now a alcoholic hermit, forced into solitude and prone to suicidal tendencies. Jackman brings the mentality of an aging Logan that's coming to terms with mortality and it hurts just watching it. There is depth and humanity to his performance which fully fleshes out whatever half-sketch might have been portrayed in past X-men films. You don't just see it, but you feel his physical and emtional pain. Logan’s screams of pain make your cringe, he's not able to heal the same way he used to and one can only assume the worst outcome for him. Dread fills every frame and that's exactly what Mangold seeks in his delivery.
Newcomer Dafne Keen is young, mute mutant Laura/ X-23, she's on the run from evil government agents that want to use her gifts as lab experimentation. Dont be fooled by her appearance, X-23 will rip your head off if you try to do her harm. Keen, in a star-making performance, is transcendant. Putting a child performance at the heart of any film is a risk, but Mangold has a true talent here, a young actress that can give off emotional resonance through stares instead of words.
Logan and a dying Professor X (Patrick Stewart) are on the run with her to a place called Eden, a sanctuary for runaway teenage mutants. Although we expected Jackman to deliver a monumental performance, Patrick Stewart is every bit as good as Xavier, bringing touching depth, but also small moments of immaculately needed humor amidst the overall grim tone. He deserves an Oscar nomination and might just get it since he is such a well-respected and legendary actor that has NEVER been nominated.
While watching Logan one can't help but feel like they are watching a neo-western film. The fact that there is also, purposeful, partial detachment from the Marvel cinematic universe allows Mangold to have more flexibility to go his own way and create his own vision. Which doesn't mean the action is kept to a minimum. Mangold stages numerous, incredibly-staged action sequences, especially one at a farmhouse where three sides collide in brutal and deadly ways. Mangold gives the R rating at his a disposal a run for its money. He stretches it to its limits with beheadings, disembowelments and countless limb amputations. The action in Logan is, for a better word, insane.