The best part of "Logan" is the ending, because unlike every other superhero movie, it actually has an ending.
Superhero movies have really become gigantic, effects-driven 160-minute episodes in a never-ending big screen television series. Usually an installment spends half its time recapping the previous episode and setting up its own action, then the other half laying the groundwork for the next episode, with a big battle that leads to open-ended questions and a tease after the credits. That's not the case at all with "Logan," which has been billed all along as Hugh Jackman's final ride as Wolverine, and delivers on that promise.
There have been eight X-Men movies, and Jackman has appeared either as the star or at least a strong cameo in all of them. But "Logan" zooms ahead to 2029, disconnecting itself from the action of all the previous X-films. And instead of giving us a long prologue and lots of explanation, director James Mangold just drops the audience into the depressing world that Wolverine now inhabits.
Instead of the X-Mansion, Wolvie is living in a dilapidated house on the side of the road, just south of the Mexican border. Instead of flying sweet jets, he's driving an SUV limo. All his friends are dead, leaving him with just an ailing Professor X (Patrick Stewart) and a weirdo mutant named Caliban (Stephen Merchant) who can't go outside during the day. And the immortal mutant himself is now dying, due to the chemistry of the adamantium claws that made him such a threat for so many years. He's still relatively ripped, but now it looks like Jackman has at least cut down on the protein shakes. (Good for him, that Wolverine look was unsustainable!)
All-in-all, life is pretty damn depressing, even for Wolverine. But there is a glimmer of hope, even if he doesn't want to recognize it as such: A young girl named Laura, who is soon revealed to be a badass mutant. That's a big deal, because it was believed that no new mutant had been born in 25 years.
Laura is one of several young mutants who got their powers as the result of some secret, illicit experiments. The guy who ran the lab, Dr. Rice (Richard Grant) is desperately trying to round them up, with the help of Pierce (Boyd Holbrook), who has his own cyborg arm and special powers. He's got a weird charm, one of those old western bad guys, but he's clearly an asshole -- the dude is aiming to kill lots of kids. In fact, that's a weird undercurrent to the whole movie. Sure, it's fun, but child murder is at play here.
Logan is forced to help Laura escape, leading to a road adventure with Professor X that is surprisingly funny and touching. It checks off all the boxes of the reluctant father-daughter adventure, while still maintaining the grit and sadness of a modern neo-western. Remember, all of Logan's friends are dead, he lives in a shitty house in Mexico, he's constantly coughing and wheezing, and lots of kids are being targeted for murder. Plus, he just spent a bunch of years driving asshole teenagers to prom in his limo, which might be the worst part of it all.
There's lots of good action, so comic book fans won't be disappointed. In fact, it's more brutal than probably any other comic book movie, and that includes the faux-grit stuff put out by Zach Snyder, of "Batman V Superman" fame.
We won't spoil the end, but as we've said, the great news is that it has a definitive third act. There are some big battles, good jokes, and tough losses that will make fans of the X-Men franchise genuinely sad -- but in a good way. As we await yet more Marvel Cinematic Universe movies, which will only beget more clues as to the next Marvel Cinematic Universe outing, it's nice to be sucked into a single story that has a beginning, middle, and end. "Logan" is a little bit long, at over two hours, but after eight movies, Jackman has earned the right to take his victory lap.
See 'Logan' sneak peek from this year's Super Bowl: