I can see why everyone loves Logan. It's Hugh Jackman's swan song as the titular hero, not to mention the likely grand finale for Patrick Stewart's Charles Xavier as well, and it features all the blood and fucks that the other X-Men movies were lacking.
But I just don't get it. I see all the pieces, and I can imagine why others feel director James Mangold and his co-writers Scott Frank and Michael Green put them together so wonderfully. It just seems like the world is reaching for something that isn't there: a unique and profound comic book movie not seen since The Dark Knight. To me, it's more of the same.
The plot is fairly straightforward: Logan and Xavier are hanging out in the surprisingly un-apocalyptic future, negated only by the fact that mutants are almost extinct. Professor X is suffering from a neurological disease that causes his powers to occasionally go wild, while Logan is slowly losing his healing powers and also possibly sick from the adamantium in his body; either way, he's about ready to die.
But that all changes when they stumble upon a young girl named Laura, who turns out to be a mutant created in a lab with Wolverine's genetic material. A shadowy organization led by security chief Donald Pierce (Boyd Holbrook) is hunting her down, as all their genetically produced teen mutants recently banded together to escape. With some heavy prodding from the mumbly Xavier, Logan decides to escort Laura to safety and once again embrace his heroic side.
Along the way, he cuts off a bunch of heads and slices through a bunch of appendages. It's nice to see Wolverine use his claws for their true purpose, but it also comes across as more of a concession than an embrace; like they ran out of ideas and figured it was finally time to up the ante. The easy comparison in that regard is to Deadpool, and understandably so; the Ryan Reynolds character even has a pre-movie teaser tacked on. But what made Deadpool so fun was how little its creators seemed to care. They were making their movie, and everyone else could go fuck themselves.
Logan cares. Logan cares a whole bunch. Mangold has already dipped his toe into the mutant universe—the horrific The Wolverine, which was just as bad as the oft-maligned X-Men Origins: Wolverine—and he wants to get his mojo back. To do so, he adapts the Old Man Logan storyline that comic nerds love, breaking away from the usual X-Men team mold and giving Jackman a true chance at a solo act. It's deserved, and extremely welcome after the recent clusterfucks that were Days of Future Past and Apocalypse, but it feels like too many fans were ready to throw a ticker-tape parade after that decision alone.
Along the way, Mangold employs a few storytelling strategies I do enjoy. He makes mention of major moments like the Westchester incident—a catastrophic event where numerous mutants died—yet never explicitly tells his audience what they are. This makes the story feel larger than just Logan, which it very much is anyway. There's a whole X-Men cinematic universe out there, and it's not worth the time or the effort to fill us in on events either unseen or experienced three movies ago. Letting them float, just out of reach, is a very nice touch.
But then it gets silly again. In a move reminiscent of Ryan Reynolds's Deadpool being reanimated at the tail-end of the aforementioned Origins, Wolverine ends up fighting...Wolverine. It's a mindless, nearly unbeatable double, but it's still just Jackman on Jackman. This is interesting for about 30 seconds, then it becomes no more than the answer to a villain problem. Who's tough enough to face off against Wolverine? Well, we burned the great Liev Schreiber as Sabretooth quite a whole ago, so...I guess a clone?
Logan is a fine piece of entertainment. There is one particular scene where everyone is frozen in time by a Professor X seizure and Wolverine starts slowly shoving his claws through people's heads that is just wonderful. But to place it on any sort of pedestal is an inadvertent indictment of the comic book movie in general. If all it takes to get "best movie ever" status is to tell a hero's standalone story and add in some cursing and gore, this has become a genre worth ignoring.