“Logan,” starring Hugh Jackman and Patrick Stewart and directed by James Mangold, is the final chapter to a character that has been a theatrical presence for 17 years. Although released under the “Marvel” brand, Logan comes across as ostensibly a stand-alone film. And it’s fantastic. In fact, I would argue that it is not crucial to have seen any of the other “X-men” films to enjoy this movie, although if you do have a connection to these characters, the emotional punches that the filmmakers deliver here are bound to hit you particularly hard.

To give you a brief set-up, “Logan” follows the life of Hugh Jackman’s titular character as he lives out his days years after the events of past films. Set in the near future, Logan now works as a chauffeur in Texas, living day-by-day as a shadow of his former self. Old, haggard and irrevocably exhausted physically, mentally, and spiritually, Logan is a superhero from an era long gone. We learn early in the film that the rest of the mutants are gone, excluding a handful of characters including Professor Charles Xavier (Stewart), who has been reduced to a senile old man with whom Logan is tasked to take care of, due to the fact that Charles now suffers from a neurodegenerative disease which causes him to lose control of his telepathic abilities to calamitous effect. A turn of events comes when Logan is given the job to transport a young girl with mutant powers identical to his own across the United States, in search of a so-called “Eden” where mutants can escape the threat of a government who seems hell-bent on eliminating them. Along this journey, Logan is pushed to the edge both physically and mentally. Healing powers that he once  possessed are fading.  For a reason later revealed in the movie,  Jackman’s character is deathly ill.

Although still immensely powerful, he is not the man he once was.  For this reason, the violence in this film is all the more brutal and effective.  

The Wolverine is no longer on Invincible Unstoppable Force. As a result, the action sequences carry a weight that was not present in previous “X-Men” films.

The first “X-Men” film was released in an era where the superhero genre was nothing like it is today. Back in 2000, the film industry was a place where the thought of crafting a “serious” superhero film was a fairly alien idea. The film was rated PG-13, and featured a pretty violent character lofted from the comic books, the source material.

However, due to the softer PG-13 rating coupled with the perceived idea that audience members were not ready at the time to witness a superhero character that featured any level of serious violence or gore, a lot of potential was lost throughout the series. Jump to 2017, and the success of films such as “Deadpool” as well as Netflix series like “Luke Cage” and “Jessica Jones” shed light on the fact that making a big budget superhero movie R-rated is one of the best decisions one can make. “Logan” is a hard R. The brutality in this film alone will come as a shock to audience members who are so used to directors of past X-Men films having to cut around the fact that this is a character whose power is to rip through his enemies with razor sharp claws that protrude from his knuckles.

In addition to a higher level of violence, the emotional substance and depth is much more pronounced. Director James Mangold plays with incredibly powerful themes of loss and alienation, so much so that it’s a marvel that the movie still manages to retain a sense of fun  and adventure.  While unquestionably dark at times, there are so many moments of humor and joy that work so well because they feel earned every time. I don’t wish you to read this review and have the idea that Logan is devoid of any kind of fun; Rather,  it is simply incredibly refreshing to see a movie depart  from the familiar formula of so many of its contemporaries Within the superhero genre.  overall I would give “Logan” 9.5 out of 10.