Wolverine’s last ride


Three years after his second solo film, Wolverine has returned to the big screen with his claws out and his taciturn demeanor fully intact.

Following the enormous success of last year’s “Deadpool,” 20th Century Fox has released its second attempt at an R-rated X-Men film: “Logan,” the 10th movie in the X-Men series.

While this film didn’t bring in the same kind of box office numbers in its opening weekend as “Deadpool,” its $88 million opening weekend total is still an undeniable success, charting at fourth place for all R-rated movies.

Directed by James Mangold (“The Wolverine,” “Kate & Leopold”), “Logan” fully embraces its rating with its dark and gritty tone, but it doesn’t push it too far. Although it contains a significant amount of swearing and plenty of gore, none of it feels like it’s just there for the sake of being gritty. The characters and the plot fully support the darker themes and would almost certainly have fallen flat if the film had been forced into a PG-13 rating.

Set in 2029, the movie explores a world where mutants are all but gone. Calamities of the past have sent Logan and Professor Charles Xavier, now in his 90s, into hiding just past the Mexican border.

Hugh Jackman’s performance as the titular character is exactly as fantastic as I’ve come to expect from him over the course of his 17 years in the X-Men movie universe, if not even better. He spends most of the movie looking like he’s been hit by a train and then thrown a woodchipper, which says a lot about the state of his character. The film delves shamelessly into Logan’s gruff and darkly cynical side, and Jackman inhabits the role magnificently.

Patrick Stewart is equally impressive as Charles Xavier. The once-great professor has lost control of his mental powers and spends his days in a pill-induced haze in order to control his “episodes.” Stewart epitomizes the role of a cantankerous old man, alternating between sheer exasperation toward Logan and an almost-unrealistic optimism for the future of mutantkind.

The interactions between the two characters supply the film with one of its largest sources of humor, with Logan acting as the exasperated caretaker and Charles doing his best to push many of Logan’s buttons. Both Jackman and Stewart have stated that this is their last film in the X-Men series, so it’s only right that they should fill it with entertaining banter.

The movie’s other main source of humor comes in the form of Laura (Dafne Keen), a young mutant who is both unsocialized and incredibly headstrong. Although most of her lines in the movie consist mainly of yelling wildly as she takes down enemies with shocking efficiency, her expressive body language and glowering looks make her a fully rounded character and an excellent foil for Logan.

Coming in at two hours and 17 minutes, the movie is fairly long compared to most theatrically released films. However, the well-balanced pacing of the storyline and the breathing room between action scenes kept it from feeling drawn out. Any time I noticed how long I’d been in the theater, it was only to hope that it didn’t mean the movie was coming to an end soon.

The cinematography (John Mathieson) and visual design work brilliantly with the story, cementing the movie’s style and bringing the atmosphere to life.

The soundtrack (Marco Beltrami) is haunting and dramatic, building and falling in all of the right places to carry the pacing and complement the tone of the movie. During action sequences, it becomes thunderous but keeps a simplicity that doesn’t overwhelm the visuals, helping to ground the movie in its uncompromising view of the characters’ reality.

Although the story raised some questions with its vague descriptions of the events that occurred between the last film and this one, it left me more intrigued than dissatisfied. As much as I would love to see a movie about some of those events, I’m also fine with knowing that it probably won’t happen since neither of the actors plan to return.

The movie pulled me into its story and kept me hooked for the entire runtime — sometimes closer to laughing, sometimes closer to crying, but always very invested in everything that was happening. It blew past the previous two Wolverine movies with ease, which wasn’t really particularly difficult but is still worth noting, and is certainly vying for the top spot in my ranking of the X-Men series as a whole.

One thing is sure: I’m going to miss Jackman and Stewart in these roles, but they’ve gone out with a solid bang.