A film in which an old gunslinger is called into action one final time, Logan has heart and a tenderness, at least for the first two-thirds. Its conclusion embraces a nondescript action sequence and that's a shame; I even wonder if the anticlimactic predictability of the end made this film appear worse, for its contrast with its engaging, quality beginning and middle.
Because I really liked the beginning and middle. At the outset, we're given a sparse, dustbowl backdrop, of the rusting hulks of metal constructions fallen into disrepair and lack of use: a perfect metaphor. Logan, the protagonist, is no longer an adamantium-enhanced superhero but an alcoholic chauffer, hiding Patrick Stewart's frail but highly-prized Professor Charles Xavier in a collapsed water tower. Stephen Merchant of The Office makes a surprise but suitable turn as Logan's geeky co-habitant. It's a wonderfully dysfunctional set-up, made more so by the introduction of a mysterious young girl with Logan-like powers who never talks, her guardianship passed to them. Logan thus has his reluctant mission, to get her to a mythic Eden for mutants over the border in Canada. The film becomes a road-trip, funny and melancholic, the repartee between the Professor and Logan the highlight of the film, the father-daughter dynamic between Logan and the girl sometimes hilariously surreal.
Why do I feel disappointed? It's a logically-structured film in terms of plot, with a beginning, middle and end that fit together. It has a 'Chekhov's gun' introduced at the beginning and ultimately used in a way that fits. The film never feels preachy or contrived, unlike the dreadful Captain America: Civil War. Jackman performs his part as a wasted former hero with a believable range of pissed-off emotions, and he makes the most of this perfect vehicle for him. Stewart nails his part as an aging wheelchair-bound father/grandfather, quirky, eccentric, humane, switching from world-weary regret to playful don't-care. The little girl is likeably enigmatic. When they stop over with a rural family, the film reaches its peak. And then . . .
Logan's nemesis, who appears halfway through, is as much metaphor as character. Sadly, it's a little bit too close to the Batman-Bane dynamic, a battle between the hero and his two-dimensional inner-demons. I get why they chose this nemesis, but I also found it dissatisfying for a film with so much gentle humour and prior subtlety.Like Logan's joining of the X-Men, then, I entered this screening with suspicion and cynicism, was then surprised and entranced for much of the journey. But I left the cinema with an empty sensation that it wasn't quite what it should have been, even if it was for me one of the most humane superhero movies I've seen, and proof for the superhero genre that less is often much, much more.