Logan (James Mangold, 2017)

What's it about? Everyone's favourite X-Man, Wolverine (Hugh Jackman), isn't quite as cool in this latest addition to the franchise. He's ageing, his abilities are fading and he's scratching out a meagre living in Mexico as he cares for a cantankerous, ailing Professor X (Patrick Stewart). But an encounter with a ferocious young mutant requires him to go berserker once more. 

Is it any good? A very deliberate attempt by Jackman and Mangold to deliver a tougher, grown-up Wolverine film, one which draws inspiration from classic Westerns such as Unforgiven and Shane (which is explicitly referenced here). And it's an approach that works well for the most part, even if it falls short of the classic status of those two touchstones. The principal interest here is seeing Wolverine and Professor X as much more vulnerable characters than we have previously encountered, both cutting weary, sympathetic characters as they cling to each other for support in a world that has moved on without them. This frailty, their relationship and eventual fates invest the film with more poignancy than I expected. It's not all touchy-feely stuff, though. The 18 certificate also allows a lot more brutal and graphic violence; a SNIKT! here really does some horrible damage - anyone squeamish about blade-to-skull injuries be warned. Essentially it's a sort of revisionist comic-book film which treats its subject matter with much more gravitas than other instalments in the franchise, making for refreshing, if downbeat viewing. However, even if it pretty much ignores the rest of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (no cameos here), it does lapse into some familiar blockbuster beats and its villains are a fairly forgettable, rent-a-thug bunch. Still, it's a major improvement on the last few Wolverine films and a satisfying watch. 

Anything else I should know? Supposedly the final screen appearance of both Jackman and Stewart as Wolverine and Logan, at least until someone comes waving another pay-cheque at them. Nonetheless, it would be a good point to end, as they explain in interviews here and here. Elsewhere, for those confused about how exactly this film fits with the timelines of the others, here's a handy guide

What does the Fonz think? An X-man's gotta do what an X-man's gotta do.

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