Logan (2017)

Starring: Hugh Jackman, Patrick Stewart, Stephen Merchant, Dafne Keen, Boyd Holbrook, Richard E Grant, Eriq La Salle

Directed by: James Mangold

Rating: 1 2 3 4 and a half

It's been 17 years since Hugh Jackman first puffed up his whiskers and buffed up his bod to play Wolverine, the dark, moody, grumpy, unco-operative loner X-Man who somehow always ends up reluctantly stuck on an unwanted mission of mercy. And now, finally, eight films later, it's time to say goodbye.

And what a way to go!

Patrick Stewart as Charles Xavier and Hugh Jackman as Logan

The year is 2029 and mutants are now all but extinct, consigned to the realms of comic book legend. Only our old friend Logan soldiers on, the last drunk at the party, ferrying around hen and stag parties in a stretch limo by night before returning home to tend to an ailing, elderly Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart), now confined to a rusting, fallen water tank in the middle of the Mexican desert, his mighty minded faltering and dangerous. Helping with the carer duties is Caliban (an effectively deadpan turn from Stephen Merchant), an albino mutant who can sense the presence of his fellow freaks.

Hugh Jackman as Logan and Stephen Merchant as Caliban in Logan

Grizzled, grey, his eyesight failing and skin a road map of broken veins, Logan has gone wrong, more Mickey Rourke's wrestler than cage fighting superhero. But when a new child mutant, a silent yet deadly pre-teen girl (Dafne Keen) enters his life, it seems that, yet again, he is destined to be drawn into a fight.

If you're ready to dismiss Logan as yet another superhero movie, please don't. The X-Men have always been far superior to their fellow Marvel and DC chums (The Wolverine aside – yikes, what a duffer!) with a far superior calibre of actor (sorry Ben Affleck but no...) offering us characters we can actually care about. But Logan takes the careful characterisation of prior films to new heights with the heartbreaking and sadly very familiar love/hate relationship between the disillusioned, world weary X/ex student Wolverine and his dying father figure Dr X, proclaiming like a sweary King Lear as he's wheeled to the loo. Like Mad Max saddled with not just a feral kid but a cantankerous granddad too, it's up to Logan not just to save the day, but to make sure the wheelchair is always stowed safely in the boot before rubber is burnt escaping bad guys.

Dafne Keen as Laura and Hugh Jackman as Logan

This is just one of many lovely details to spot – from the registration plate of Logan's limo to the price tag dangling from his newly bought glasses – along with a great deal of ironic humour to enjoy (not least Logan's classic Basil Fawlty moment – you'll know it when you see it).

But before you start thinking it all sounds a bit soft, don't. The film is chocked with lashings of ultra-violence too, with some genuinely exciting, edge-of-seat moments.

Like Arnie's melancholy zombie family drama Maggie or Danny Boyle's thrilling space whodunnit Sunshine, Logan is quite a genre buster: a Frankensteinian tale of futuristic gene manipulation with the soul of a classic cowboy film; a poignant drama about family, ageing and loss that packs a huge, adamantium-steel-clawed action punch; a fable of superhuman powers that's all about being human.

Gripping, moving and unexpectedly profound, Logan is one hell of a way to bow out from a franchise. Hugh Jackman, we salute you.

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