If his public statements are any indication, Hugh Jackman is apparently hanging up his adamantium-blade claws. Set in 2029, “Logan” is the closest thing to a valedictory the Marvel universe has yet concocted. Depending on how sentimental you are about these things – me, not much – it’s a bittersweet event.
Jackman’s Logan, aka Wolverine, is one of very few mutants still extant in the dystopic world of “Logan,” along with nonagenarian X-Men leader Charles (Patrick Stewart) and albino mutant Caliban (Stephen Merchant). Holed up together, their powers inexorably waning, they live out a dissipated existence in an abandoned smelting plant on the outskirts of El Paso, Texas.
It turns out that there are more than three extant mutants. Laura (Dafne Keen), a young girl with a piercing gaze, is a seemingly mute mutant with metallic claws. Wonder how she’s related to Logan?
Eventually, after a pursuit by X-Men adversaries, paramilitary cyborgs, and the bioengineering mad scientist (Richard E. Grant) who created Laura’s new breed of mutants south of the border, they all face off in a series of overly gory showdowns that owe as much to Hollywood westerns as to the "X-Men" franchise. (“Shane” is explicitly referenced.)
Until it turns into a free-for-all bloodfest, “Logan,” propulsively directed by James Mangold, has its virtues: Jackman gives Logan a withering rage that seems heartfelt, not hammy; Stewart is touching in his enraged befuddlement; and Keen, who resembles here what Katie Holmes might look like if she were Carrie, has a feral intensity.
Don’t count on this being the last of Logan, though. And unless I missed something, which is quite possible, I didn’t spot the obligatory cameo by Stan Lee. Grade: B- (Rated R for strong brutal violence and language throughout, and for brief nudity.)