"Logan" is arguably the best X-Men movie in a long, jumbled line of X-Men movies, half of which technically do not count anymore.
It is also the most distant movie from the X-Men universe because of its tone.
The basic premise of the movie isn't a clash between two titans or an epic battle for the fate of the world. It's smaller and therefore feels more intimate. There are three main characters—Logan, Professor Xavier and the little girl Laura. While the latter rarely speaks in the movie, all three deliver powerful performances in what plays out more as a heartfelt drama rather than an action flick.
Of course, that comes to clash with the amount of violence in the movie. It's here that one must applaud "Deadpool" and all who went to see that movie. Had it not been a commercial success the way it was, we would have likely never gotten this version of "Logan." That's not to say an R-rated "Logan" is better than what a PG-13-rated "Logan" may have been. This movie uses its R rating almost to the point of abusing it. It's excessive. "Deadpool" seems completely tame in comparison.
The combination between the drama and the borderline-unnecessary violence is something that, even long into the movie, never sits right. Every blood splat, amputation, beheading and merciless killing shocks the audience no matter how many times it happens. And it happens a lot.
At the same time, the raw, gritty, outright lack of sympathy the titular character exudes is what makes this performance great. Not only is this level of violence reminiscent of the darker source material, but it also perfectly showcases an older, gruffer Wolverine, which Hugh Jackman, after 17 years of playing the character in both solo films and team movies, has mastered.
Jackman has expressed that this is his final run as Wolverine, and he appears to have given it his all. It's not always easy to do a solo superhero film without falling into clichés to produce drama and evoke emotion. Perhaps it's the plot itself, the fact that this is not an origin film or just another adventure in the life of Wolverine, that dictates how much attention is given to emotion over action. This is, after all, the last Wolverine movie.
Sir Patrick Stewart also delivers a solid performance as Professor Xavier. Struggling with Alzheimer's disease, Xavier is not always mentally stable in this film but continues to preach his message of compassion and hope despite his failing health. Stewart, as experienced as he is both as an actor and as the character, is amazing.
The flaws with the movie come with its pacing. While there are points in the movie where pause is needed and perhaps not enough pause is given, at other times it drags significantly. It seemed as though half the transitions were Logan getting knocked out and then waking up, only to get knocked out again.
At its core, "Logan" is not an X-Men film. Despite the claws, despite the talks of mutants, there are times throughout the movie where any semblance of the X-Men universe is shed, making way for a moving story about love and hope, life and death.
It's difficult to write a review about a movie that appears to have no glaring flaws. Aside for the conflicting tones when Logan, in an attempt to save and protect a frail Professor Xavier, brutally and mercilessly stabs everyone in his path, the action is fitting for the character.
Coming to the conclusion of not just the movie, but the legacy of both the Wolverine character and Jackman's nearly two decades in the role, the movie's end is simple rather than superfluous. The last moments of the film are neither grand nor spectacular—a simple fade to black with soft Johnny Cash music.
No flashy credits, no post-credit scene or teaser to the next film. Rather, a simple and solemn sendoff to one of the most popular and recognizable superheroes in all of cinema and the man who played him all these years.