From its very first scene, we know that Logan is nothing like its predecessors. The first word in the film is “fuck” as Logan awakens, hungover, before violently and graphically killing some bad guys who attack him. It’s… awesome. Wolverine’s character very easily lends himself to the darker, more cynical tone that Logan takes. He’s always been a grouchy recluse, and it’s not at all a stretch to see those traits intensified after the events of his last six years.
Set in the year 2029, most mutants are gone. Logan lives with the former professor Xavier and another mutant named Caliban. Logan is a limousine driver lured to what he thinks is just another fare. When he arrives, he finds a woman and a girl, Laura, who are being hunted by Dr. Zander Rice and his henchman, Donald Pierce. After discovering Laura’s powers, identical to his own, Logan agrees to drive Laura to North Dakota, where she intends to cross the border into Canada.
Hugh Jackman’s Logan, Patrick Stewart’s Xavier, Dafne Keen’s Laura and Stephen Merchant’s Caliban all benefit from wonderful performances. It was great seeing Merchant do well in such a serious role, but this is the same character who we saw in X-Men: Apocalypse (though played by a different actor), and that film was set in 1983. Logan is set forty-six years later, and Caliban hasn’t aged at all. His makeup is also entirely different, but I suppose that can be forgiven due to a different crew. Boyd Holbrook and Richard E. Grant do well as Pierce and Rice, respectively, but these villainous characters are so shallow in their creation that it’s very difficult for either actor to shine.
This shouldn’t be seen as too much of a negative, though; the bad guys chasing our trio (Logan, Xavier, and Laura) could be literally faceless and voiceless without the film losing any of its heart. The good guys are so well-written, and their relationships so well-fleshed-out that you find yourself even more excited for the quiet, conversational moments than for the spectacularly gory action sequences.
As can be expected with any film franchise that’s been around as long as X-Men (ten films, now, and Jackman/Wolverine has appeared in nine of them – all but Deadpool), there are some inconsistencies (yes, even after Days of Future Past did its little timeline-reset thing) besides the aforementioned Caliban issue. I have a problem with the adamantium bullet, for one. In X-Men Origins: Wolverine, Stryker shoots Wolverine in the head with adamantium. Twice. His brain grows back, but the memories that were there do not, hence the amnesia (which doesn’t make sense in itself, because he gets the memories back later, but I digress). In this film, though, it’s made quite clear that a headshot with an adamantium bullet will result in death.
Speaking of Stryker, one of our new baddies, Rice, says that his father was the one who put the adamantium into Logan. Logan responds by saying that this is why he killed him. Are they referring to Stryker or to Dale Rice, Zander’s father in the comics? If they’re referring to Stryker, are we supposed to just assume that Logan hunted the guy down and murdered him at some point? The last we saw of him in this timeline was in Apocalypse, where he was arrested and taken away. Or maybe they’re referring to the previous timeline, but in that timeline Magneto was the one who killed him. If they are referring to Dale, then, what, he was one of the nameless technicians who Wolverine killed in his slightly-more-than-a-cameo scene in Apocalypse? Who the hell cares? Zander’s character wasn’t nearly interesting enough for us to be interested in an unseen father.
And on the topic of adamantium, how did they get it into Laura? We’re told in X2, and reminded in at least two of the other films, that it’s only malleable in its liquid state, and that in its cooled, hardened state, it’s indestructible. This is why it’s kept in those vats in the other films. In Logan, though, when we see Laura being fitted with her metal endoskeleton, there is no liquid metal to be seen. And just to rant a tiny bit longer, how the hell are Laura’s bones supposed to grow if they’re coated in adamantium? Realistically, she should be that size forever, now.
Okay, that’s all of the negatives and tiny frustrations out of the way. The cinematography and direction (James Mangold returns from The Wolverine) are superb. The Wolverine trilogy is strangely unique in that its first film was its worst, and its third is its best. The Wolverine is much better than X-Men Origins: Wolverine, and Logan is better still. In fact, it’s the best X-Men or X-Men-adjacent film we’ve ever had. It’s the best superhero/comic-book film since 2012’s Dredd, and certainly the best superhero/comic-book film that 20th Century Fox has ever given us. “It’s very good” is what I’m saying.