In 2029, the world is recovering from some kind of post-apocalyptic event. Hiding out in Mexico, Logan (Hugh Jackman) is working as a limo driver to pay for a new life for himself and Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart).
Life is not good for Logan. Age is finally starting to catch up with him, and his healing factor is not working the way it used to. Professor X has a degenerative brain disease which results in cataclysmic seizures that can incapacitate or kill anyone in a wide radius. Logan treats his condition with drugs, which have turned the old man into a rambling crazy.
Their shitty lives take a turn when a woman hires Logan to take a young girl, Laura (Dafne Keen), to North Dakota. Logan smells trouble, but takes the job. Soon an army of mercenaries are on their trail as the trio tear their way across country.
Helmed by James Mangold, who directed Jackman's previous solo adventure, 2013's The Wolverine, and co-written by Scott Frank, Logan is one of the best-realised action flicks I've seen in a while. Refreshingly, it is crafted as a single story, not an episode in a broader story, and all the character and stylistic choices are tied to its dramatic requirements, rather than fan service or some broader continuity.
The action might be cut from the same cloth, but Mangold's playing the beats ensures that every set piece is a nail biter. Logan's incapacity is a gift to the filmmakers and the audience, as it makes the character more of an everyman. The R rating certainly helps. While the movie is gory, it never feels gratuitous -- the tone of the violence is extremely well-handled.
Despite all the hype around the movie's realism and darkness, the final product does not suffer from the mono-tone of recent 'grim' blockbusters (Fantastic Four, anything by Zack Snyder), which read serious as dark colour grading and relentless despair. The movie's tone is extremely deft, serving the requirements of the characters and the story -- there are grace notes of comedy and character shading that make the whole experience feel more real and lived-in. It feels like that sweet spot that the best movies get to, but so many movies either fail at or ignore.
The cast are all terrific. Boyd Holbrook is on a fine form as a sadistic merc on Logan's tail, Stephen Merchant is surprisingly effective as Logan's comrade/housewife Caliban and Patrick Stewart brings a delightful level of humanity and vulnerability to Professor X. Newcomer Keen is great as young mutant Laura, and will probably become a fan favourite off the back of this.
Hugh Jackman, always great as Logan, delivers his best performance as Logan here. Maybe because the movie is so centred on his story, this feels like the most fleshed out version of the character we've had. If this is his last ride in the saddle, it is good that this is the best one.
It's a little early to say where this sits with the other X movies. Firstly because it's just come out, and secondly because it is completely irrelevant (and I don't care enough). This is a really strong example of well executed genre storytelling, and well worth your money.