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Film Review: Hugh Jackman takes one last stab in “Logan”

Grade: A

Since he made his on-screen debut in July of 2000, the Wolverine, the unequivocal face of the X-Men film franchise, has appeared in nine of the ten films (the one appearance he did not make was in “Deadpool”). Over the course of that time, he has had three spin-off films dedicated to him that give context on his own life and his origins. Now in his ninth appearance as the character, the man who has played Wolverine for 17 years, Hugh Jackman, is retracting his claws and calling it quits. But that’s not before he decides to go off on one final grand adventure.

Appropriately titled “Logan,” one of Wolverine’s most common aliases, the movie takes place in the post-apocalyptic future, specifically the year 2029 where mutants, people with out-of-this-world abilities, are on the brink of extinction. Wolverine works as a chauffeur in Texas as his body continues to age and be poisoned by his adamantium skeleton, due to his failing healing abilities. Professor Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart), another well-known face of the franchise known for his telepathic abilities, joins him, yet he is struggling with Alzheimer’s disease. Wolverine is given a task to escort an 11-year-old girl named Laura (Dafne Keen), a mutant who is a product of a biotechnology experiment, to a place in North Dakota called “Eden,” although, in true superhero fashion, there is someone trying to stop him.

The X-Men franchise has always had a way of bringing raw acting into the limelight of a superhero film, which is why there is such a cult following for this Marvel series. It has made names for such stars as Nicholas Hoult, Michael Fassbender and James McAvoy, who all first appeared in the 2011 installment “X-Men: First Class.” It’s been a birthplace for many actors and actresses, due to the calls for large and fresh casts upon each release. But seasoned men like Jackman and Stewart have stayed true to the series throughout its incredibly lengthy run — and thanks to them and the incredible storyline from “Logan,” the franchise will continue to be successful far into the future.

As with ay superhero film, there are high expectations for action. Battle after battle, viewers are left wanting more and even cleverer ways of stopping the enemy of “Logan.” Better yet, the development of Wolverine’s character shows, as his failing body can no longer sustain the blows like it used to. This was the idea of director James Mangold, who believed that Wolverine deserved to be retired, but only after he had overcome all adversities, including old age.

What “Logan” does that other movies in the series have not is tie in the humanizing characteristics of mutants. As said before, you begin to see Wolverine’s and even Professor X’s vulnerabilities like never before. This adds depth to a story that is constantly trying to better itself in terms of capabilities. Add in the clever direction of Mangold and the strong coordination of cinematographer John Mathieson and you have something truly worth watching. And not to mention, it’s appropriate that Jackman, 48, ended his run at the age that he did because today’s film technology has made it possible for special effects to produce physical attributes, such as scars and wrinkles, like you could never visualize before. In many ways, “Logan” is a cinematic marvel (no pun intended) that serves as an appropriate end for Jackman and paves the way for future generations of X-Men.

This is the end of an era for X-Men fans, but there are big plans for future films for the years ahead (starting with the sequel to “Deadpool” coming out next year). Looking back over the years, though, many fans can agree that the franchise will not be the same without everyone’s beloved mutant. The stakes are high for who will fill the gaping void he will leave in the story, but there are definitely some stars on the horizon just waiting to take their turn.

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