I have very mixed feelings about Logan.  Considering it as a movie by itself it is a very satisfying film.  It is damn good.  Considering it part of the X-Men film pantheon it is actually puzzling.  It doesn’t really belong because of the finality the film brings.  It is a false finality because Fox will make X-Men films long after I’m dead.

Three X-Men films have come out in the past 13 months.  Deadpool was set in a modern era (with some flashbacks to his origin a few years earlier).  X-Men: Apocalypse was the sequel to Days of Future Past and had our your mutants battling an evil super mutant in the 1980s.  Then there is Logan which takes places just over ten years in our future.

People can mock producer Kevin Feige and the cookie-cutter way Marvel Studios puts out their films.  However after getting through the first few films the studio came up with a plan and how they can intertwine their movies.  Even if a film occurs in the past it still makes sense in the present.  There is an overall grand scheme to the Marvel Studios pictures.

The X-Men films do not have a Kevin Feige but rather filmmakers who like certain comic books or characters and think they will make great films.  X2 was inspired by God Loves, Man Kills.  Last Stand was based on The Dark Phoenix Saga.  Days of Future Past was based on the two-part comic of the same name.  Even the last solo Wolverine film was based on the Frank Miller miniseries.  Simon Kinberg and Lauren Shuler Donner repeatedly produce these films but they don’t force a narrative on the filmmakers.  They make what they want no matter if it makes sense or not.

This was never more evident then the horrible X-Men Origins: Wolverine film that went all over the place and caused a slew of continuity errors.  This happened again in First Class.  Things slightly course corrected with Days of Future Past but Apocalypse went ahead and caused more continuity errors.  Again – the filmmakers don’t seem to care about a character that shouldn’t belong in the film, they just decide to put him in anyway (in this case I’m thinking about Nightcrawler in X2…and then again in Apocalypse).  They just want to tell a story.

This is also certainly the case with Logan – this is said to be an adaptation of Mark Millar’s Old Man Logan though there’s not many similarities.  It happens in the future and Logan is old.  Well, in this, he’s older.  He’s certainly not an old man.  Beyond that writer/director James Mangold primarily wrote this as a chase film.  And as a chase film it is certainly effective.  It is a fun ride.  It introduces fan favorite X-23 – who was a character created for a X-Men cartoon.  She first saw print in the Marvel Universe in a forgettable title called NYX but went on to much bigger and better things.

I will make this point: Logan is NOT a X-Men film.  There are no guest appearances from Jean Grey, Cyclops, Colossus, Deadpool, Kitty Pryde, Nightcrawler, Gambit, Jubilee, Quicksilver, Beast, Angel, Iceman, Banshee, Dazzler, Longshot, Sunfire, Thunderbird, Forge, Rogue, Magneto, Toad, Sabertooth, Madelyne Pryor, Cable, and so on.

If you’ve seen the trailer you know that the film does have Wolverine and also a very old Professor X.  It also features one of my favorite little known mutants named Caliban.  He did appear in X-Men: Apocalypse but is portrayed here by Stephen Merchant who is a much better casting choice.  Caliban’s role in this film is minimal though his inclusion in the film does serve a major purpose.

The premise of Logan is that nearly all of the mutants are long gone and, in 2029, it is basically Wolverine, Xavier, and Caliban living out their days.  Wolverine’s dream is to raise enough money to take Xavier away from the world and die in peace.  Xavier is having a hard time in his old age keeping himself together and when his brain falters it literally means chaos for the world around him.  Having a senile old Professor X is not good for the world.

The plot forms around 11-year-old Laura AKA X-23 who is dropped into Logan’s lap.  Donald Pierce (Boyd Holbrook) and the Reavers show up but these cyborgs are not the ones who are out to kill all the X-Men.  No they basically just want X-23 “back.”  Unable to fight off a multitude of Reavers, Logan grabs the Professor and this young girl.  The mission is to get X-23 to a secret location where she will be okay.  But this Logan isn’t the Wolverine we’ve all known.  He’s old.  He’s weary.  He doesn’t fight as well as he used to and certainly doesn’t heal like he once had.  Wolverine would rather not be involved but, for some reason, this is not a fight he is going to back down from.

Holbrook’s Pierce made a great and interesting villain.  I dug his performance as he is not just an all out bad guy.  He’s doing what needs to be done and does so with a calm head.  Is he the only bad guy in this film?  Not at all and I will not spoil the surprise by delving further into the plot.  I’ll let you see the movie yourself …or let some other asshole ruin the movie for you.

So what didn’t I like?  Again the movie seems to paint itself into a corner.  All the X-Men are gone.  All the mutants are gone.  So where does that leave the X-Men franchise?  Well we all know that Deadpool 2 is just around the corner.  A new TV series just launched.  There’s talks of a New Mutants spinoff.  And of course we all know there will be another X-Men movie in just a few years.  Why?  Because if 20th Century Fox doesn’t continue to make X-Men films the rights to the characters will go back to Marvel/Disney.  They don’t want that – the X-Men films are a cash cow.  So they will keep making movies.  Then why have a movie that takes place just ten years in the future where all the mutants are gone?  Because it doesn’t matter.  Just like all the glaring errors in the X-Men universe we are forced to watch and supposed to not care.

This is Patrick Stewart and Hugh Jackman’s swan song.  They will no longer be doing X-Men movies.  Does that mean no more Professor X?  No more Wolverine?  Of course not.  We still have James McAvoy.  And of course we will get a new Wolverine who is not Hugh Jackman (nor Dougray Scott) sometime in the future.  The film’s end is a tease as if to say, “Thanks for the memories.  It’s been real.”  That is not the case.  The producers know it.  The stockholders at 20th Century Fox know it.  And the movie audience should know it.

Again – those expecting an X-Men movie aren’t going to get one.  This was also the case with Mangold’s The Wolverine but, for some reason, this one feels even less so.  Why?

The reason why is because Logan isn’t a superhero film.  It is a film with a superhero in it…except even in this case…this man is no superhero.  Maybe at one time he was but now he isn’t.  This isn’t about some bullshit villain trying to bring about the end of the world.  This is about a man at the end of his rope helping a young girl escape some captors.  It is a chase film.  I look at this the same way I look at Man of Steel.  Man of Steel isn’t a superhero film…it’s a sci-fi alien film with a superhero in it.  It tries to something different from what has been done before and it actually succeeds.

What did I like?  I loved the performances here.  Hugh Jackman really hits it out of the park with his performance.  It has many different layers and we’ve never seen a performance like this from Hugh.  It’s refreshing.  And with a R-rating we can see this character really go buck wild.  Is an R-rating essential for a Wolverine movie?  Not at all.  But it also allows a character who no longer gives a shit the chance to really do what he is supposed to do: be a killer.  This movie is violent as hell.

Patrick Stewart and Stephen Merchant are both great.  Stewart as a less lucid Professor X is quite stellar and Stewart goes through many different layers in bringing us this last performance.

Newcomer Dafne Keen plays X-23 and she is just stunning.  What Mangold has this character do is incredible and vicious at the same time.  You do not walk up to this child and plan on taking her down without a fight.  She may be 11 years old but her backstory has caused her to be wise beyond her years – especially in a fight.  I certainly hope they use the character in future films.

I liked the violence in the form – it was pretty gory and overdone but it worked for the character.  The theater I was in was FILLED with little kids.  Parents probably expected this to be another X-Men film so hey let’s bring our 6 year old to see it.  These are probably the same dumbass parents who took their kids to see Sausage Party.

My overall thoughts?  This is definitely one of the better mutant films from Fox.  My favorites still remain X2 and First Class but Logan may round out the top 3 X-Men films.  It is certainly much better than the awful first solo Wolverine film and is much better than the second solo film (which was a great film with a horrible third act).

If this was truly the end Logan would be an excellent swan song.  But I just can’t get over the hurdle that they plot is wasted.  We will continue to see X-Men films being cranked out.  As a movie by itself?  Logan is pretty damn good.  I really have no major complaints and thoroughly enjoyed myself for two hours.  Jackman and Stewart both give some major performances and, while I doubt they’ll be recognized for any sort of awards, they are definitely worthy of them.

RANK: A-