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With: Hugh Jackman, Patrick Stewart, Dafne Keen, Richard E. Grant, Doris Morgado, Boyd Holbrook, Stephan Merchant, Eriq La Salle, Mary Peyton Stewart, Elizabeth Rodriguez
Written by: Scott Frank, James Mangold, Michael Green
Directed by: James Mangold
MPAA Rating: R for strong brutal violence and language throughout, and for brief nudity
Running Time: 137
Date: 03/03/2017

Logan (2017)

3 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Crying Wolverine

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Raising the stakes on superhero movies by a significant margin, Logan could be the cinematic equivalent to Frank Miller's legendary comic book The Dark Knight Returns.

Logan is fatalistic and final, grown-up and unexpectedly moving. It's a surprise turnaround from director James Mangold, whose last outing was the hatchet job The Wolverine (2013).

Logan is the tenth movie in the X-Men series, which began in 2000, and will reportedly be Hugh Jackman's last time in this iconic role. Here, however, it's the year 2029, and he's no longer really known as "Wolverine." He's just Logan, a man that has lived a long, hard life.

The future is a bleak place, and no new mutants, no heroes, have come along in years. Logan's healing powers don't work so well anymore. He's covered in scars and is in pain most of the time.

He drives a limousine to earn money for booze and to take care of Professor Xavier (Patrick Stewart), now in his 90s and suffering from violent psychic fits.

The mutant Caliban (Stephen Merchant), introduced on screen in last summer's dud X-Men: Apocalypse, has also stuck around to help.

A woman (Elizabeth Rodriguez) approaches Logan, supposedly with a job, but in reality, she wants him to take her young daughter Laura (a haunting Dafne Keen) cross-country to a "safe place" in North Dakota.

There's something unique about Laura, and, at first, Logan wants nothing to do with her.

But when bad guys descend upon Logan's desert hideout — he keeps the professor in a rusty, knocked-over water tower — he reluctantly hits the road.

Mangold, who directed the very good remake of 3:10 to Yuma, presents Logan as a kind of abrasive, steely Western (it even includes a showing of Shane on a hotel TV).

It beautifully evokes interior struggles with its cracked, dusty exteriors, its neglected American spaces. It has action sequences to be sure, and grisly, bloody "R"-rated ones, but these are deliberately exhausting rather than exhilarating.

It helps that we know this character so well; the long history is already built in. But Logan is now less badass berserker and more human, and Jackman gives what could be the finest performance of his career — matched, of course, by Stewart.

With no Hollywood endings or to-be-continued tricks, this is a movie bold enough to look back at great loss and regret, and forward into the abyss. It even makes the idea of future sequels seem laughable. Logan is the ultimate, in the best sense of the word, X-Men movie.

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