James Mangold transplants Hugh Jackman’s beloved mutant into a sunbaked, (near) futuristic vision of the Lone Star State where he spends his days boozing, laying low, and caring for the aging Professor X (played once again by Patrick Stewart) as he battles Alzheimer's and announces the arrival of another mutant (no new mutants have been born in decades) to an apathetic, disillusioned Logan. Turns out he’s right, as a biotechnological corporation has used mutant DNA to concoct a sort of superhero sperm bank and breed a group of mutant children super-soldiers. Logan’s entrusted with the task of shepherding Laura (Dafne Keen)- one of these artificial mutants who’s escaped her captors- into a fabled safe-haven for mutants in North Dakota.
Hot on their trail are the corporation's bounty-hunter- played with relaxed charm and subdued dastardliness by Boyd Holbrook- and the corporation’s head surgeon (Richard E. Grant), who drags Logan’s tone out of Western savagery and Noir-esque cynicism and into familiar comic book campiness. Up until the midway point, the film tricks you into thinking you’re not watching yet another superhero flick. Its violence eschews panoramic spectacle in favor of close-up brutality. Its dialogue is world-weary and existential. And its hero is jaded, alcoholic, and- as the film hints- suicidal. This is a film in which Wolverine can hardly unsheath his claws, Professor X is suffering from Alzheimer's, and all their fellow X-Men have been dead for decades. And when Jackman, Keen, and Stewart begin battling ruthless clones and gun-toting commandos, you wish you could just keep watching them battle life’s real villains: extinction, prejudice, self-hatred, and guilt.
PS: If anyone working at Marvel Entertainment is reading this, please take note. It’s great that you guys are being influenced by older films from other genres, but we don’t need to see the characters watch the movie that influenced the one we’re watching on T.V. From this movie and Spider-Man: Homecoming, I can glean that this is becoming something of a trend.
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