After 17 years of playing iconic characters, Hugh Jackman as Logan/Wolverine and Patrick Stewart as Professor Charles Xavier have turned in their performances in Logan. A note of finality is writ large over the concluding film in the Wolverine franchise. Little is revealed about the near-future in which Logan takes place, except for the fact that humanity has succeeded in destroying nearly all mutants. Except for Logan, who is mostly silent and world-weary, with the vagaries of age lining his face. This is a superhero whose body is eating away at him from the inside.
Much of the film is about the quiet moments. They focus on the relationship between Logan and Xavier, which is pitched as an angry son taking care of his aged father who has been distant all these years. Logan doesn’t talk much but every character around him psychoanalyses him. The former teacher, unwillingly, and Logan, willingly, are primed to wait out the rest of their lives in an abandoned industrial complex. But as is the case with most superhero movies, nobody is content to let them retire in peace. So Laura Kinney (Dafne Keen) mostly super-cute but actually a mini-Wolverine who eviscerates her enemies with lightning-quick reflexes without emotion or effort, is thrown into the mix.
The second half becomes a road movie in which Logan, Laura and Xavier drive towards a mutant Eden in North Dakota while attempting to escape the men who are looking for Laura. Here, the action steadily proceeds to grow more brutal. While there is a certain pleasure in seeing the adamantine claws of Logan and Laura pierce every part of the human body, there is greater thrills in watching layers of Wolverine’s hardened exterior peel away as he bonds with his younger self.
The irony of the Wolverine character was that the most beloved and most charismatic of the X-Men could never find a good movie to showcase his abilities despite many attempts. Part of that reason, as with Superman, was the fact that the mutant superhero’s powers overwhelmed his personality.
The concluding part of director James Mangold’s Wolverine trilogy is not about men in tights taking on the bad guys. It also isn’t about the violent and wince-inducing action, but about the relationship between the characters. If the previous films focussed on Wolverine’s superior healing abilities and fighting skills, Mangold has finally cracked the code with the third film – it’s the humane side of Wolverine/Logan that was always the most interesting thing about him.