Even the name of the film, "Logan", signifies that this is more of a standalone movie than another in the long series of the "X-Men". It is 2029 and Logan (Hugh Jackman) is a tired, disheveled limo driver purchasing drugs on the down-low before he crosses over the border into Mexico where Caliban (Stephen Merchant) and Professor X, Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart) are in exile.
Charles is gravely ill, suffering from paralyzing seizures, and the drugs Logan bought are not nearly enough. The plan is to acquire enough cash to buy a boat and spend the rest of their days living on the ocean. But Logan is contacted by a hysterical woman, Gabriella (Elizabeth Rodriguez), who offers him a large sum of money to drive her and her "daughter, Laura (Dafne Keen) to North Dakota to meet up with others who are planning an escape to Canada.
Logan is --- shall we say --- extremely reluctant to help Laura, especially when he learns that she is a mutant. But Charles is insistent that they deliver her to her friends in a place called Eden, and they set off on a road trip to end all road trips, chased by the cybernetic bully, Donald Pierce (Boyd Holbrook) and the psychopathic geneticist, Dr. Zander Rice (Richard E. Grant), who created Laura.
Director James Mangold, who co-wrote the screenplay with Scott Frank and Michael Green, and Jackman had worked together before on "The Wolverine" (2013). They had a grand scheme for how the story of Wolverine would come to an end, and their vision is a doozy.
"Logan" is dark, violent and unrelenting. But it also shows the very human side of this mutant with steel claws. Jackson has never been better in this role. The desperation of his current situation is uniquely palpable --- and overwhelmingly depressing. I still can't get used to the idea of him driving around drunks and losers in his jazzed-up limo. But when Laura ultimately needs his help, the old Wolverine appears and it's a joy to behold.
Keen is a very special little actor. For much of the film she never speaks, but trust me, you know what she's thinking without a doubt. Her primal screams are chilling --- wherever did she reach within to accomplish those? Had she not been as good as she is, "Logan" would have suffered. But she is that good --- that great --- and I'm sure we'll see a lot more of her.
Though much of the violence is really difficult for me to sit through, especially the episode which takes place on a farm during the road trip, fans of the Wolverine will most likely not be affected. It's hard to fathom that we will no longer see the buff Jackman preening with those shiny steel claws, but he is getting older, so I suppose we should let him retire this character from his repertoire.
Opinion: See It Now!
If you're a fan of the "X-Men" franchise dating back to the first film in 2000, there's a good reason to see "Logan" --- it's Hugh Jackman's last appearance as Wolverine. He has said as much, and circumstances in the film would tend to support that statement.
There are also some good reasons not to see "Logan". If you are unable to suspend belief long enough to accept that a four foot, 11-year-old girl can overpower brutes three or four times her size is one. Another is the violence. Let's put it this way --- Quentin Tarantino would be proud. Heads roll --- literally --- while the death toll and blood flow are staggering.
Other than that, "Logan" is entertaining enough, albeit too long at two hours plus. Jackman (aka Logan) is always a consummate presence on screen, and his interactions with Charles (Patrick Stewart), and the return of his albino friend Caliban (Stephen Merchant, this time around), add spice and a welcome respite from the mayhem. There is an age-old problem with the battle scenes, though. How is it that men with automatic weapons manage to miss their targets with such regularity?
Back to the diminutive girl. Her name is Laura (Dafne Keen, making her film debut). She is a mutant with the same feature and ability as Wolverine --- razor-sharp extensions from her hands that can slice off a man's head with one slash. She is also acrobatic, feisty and a voracious eater. Young Keen is as credible as one can be in the role, crucial to the success of the film.
Another plus for "Logan" is the presence of a true villain. Donald Pierce (Boyd Holbrook) is the gold-toothed, smooth-talking thorn in Logan's side. He's the main henchman, i.e. the Chief of Security, for the organization led by Dr. Zander Rice (Richard E. Grant) which wants to recapture the mutant children who escaped from their facility.
After a plethora of "X-Men" offerings in the past 17 years, you would think fans have seen enough. But the fairly boisterous reaction of our screening crowd would indicate otherwise. Most stayed through the closing credits hoping for a future clue. Nothing materialized then, but look for an especially nice touch at the end of the actual film.
Opinion: Mild See It Now!