Hugh Jackman’s Logan, aka Wolverine, takes his bow as the razor-clawed mutant in his farewell movie.
The mood here is grim, gritty and resolutely downbeat, making this the dourest superhero adventure since Christian Bale hung up Batman’s cape and cowl.
The setting is 2029 in a world where no new mutants have been born for 25 years. The X-Men are dying out and Jackman’s weary Logan is something of a wreck as well.
Earning a living as a limo driver in dust-blown Texas, he’s boozy and battered, his healing powers in decline. Patrick Stewart’s aged Charles, aka Professor X, is in even worse shape, subject to terrible seizures that, thanks to his psychic powers, leave tremendous collateral damage in their wake.
Logan has been caring for Charles, with help from albino mutant Caliban (Stephen Merchant, playing it straight), but he finds himself saddled with a fresh responsibility in the form of 11-year-old Laura, a mutant who has escaped from a secret facility in Mexico being run by Richard E Grant’s ruthless bioengineer, Dr Zander Rice.
Grudgingly, Logan agrees to take Laura to North Dakota, site of a rumoured sanctuary for mutant children called Eden. But Rice and his henchmen are in deadly pursuit…
Director James Mangold handles the ensuing adventure as a blend of road movie and Western, with scenes from 1953 classic Shane popping up, pointedly, on TV.
The action here, however, is far more bloodily violent than it was in that vintage movie – like Logan, Dafne Keen’s Laura has vicious claws and when she uses them, there’s no stinting on the gore. Yet the overall tone here is similarly elegiac.
Mangold’s film is undoubtedly overlong and some stretches do drag, but Jackman and Stewart’s superb, nuanced performances ensure that it’s not just the fights but also the emotionally charged scenes that really pack a punch.