In a bold, daring move, the final Wolverine film doesn’t feature the character’s superhero name anywhere in the title, barely registers any connection to the X-men franchise from which it was originally spun-off and to top it all off, carries an R-rating for the heavy duty violence. A classic slice of Americana, combining the road trip sub-genre with the Western, Logan subverts every expectation you have of superhero movies in general and takes a much-loved character and makes him iconic.

Here is the biggest reason why Logan works so well. After nearly 2 decades of being assaulted by nearly every possible way to milk the superheroes genre, watching Logan feels genuinely and legitimately unpredictable. Not in terms of any plot revelation or twists but because it shares no similarity to any comic book based film you’ve ever seen before. It is so distinct in how the drama is set up and the manner in which it unfolds that it makes virtually no acknowledgement of any of the other X-men films or characters. This is not just a solo adventure; it’s a distinctly standalone tale. The film’s genius is to ignore superhero genre tropes completely. Instead, it shares its DNA with classic films. The dusty, grungy first act and its wild chase recalls the best of the Mad Max series, the search for the so-called sanctuary with purportedly the very last mutant has shades of Children of Men, while the entire relationship between Logan and Laura, the girl left in his charge, revolves around protection and reluctant parental responsibility having more than a few shades of Terminator 2.

Hugh Jackman has always been at his best when playing Wolverine but here he’s absolutely sublime. With shaky hands, imperfectly retracting blades, bitter temper and haunted memories, this is the pinnacle of his performance, full of grief and regret. Aiding in no small amount are the mood and misery that the setup creates, pairing him with the feral, untamed Laura while he simultaneously nurses a frail Charles Xavier. On the run from forces unknown, the tension is made palpable because we don’t really know who Laura is or what she’s capable of, but also because the violence is brutal yet purposeful. Readers of the comics are familiar with Logan being routinely beaten to a pulp, charred to a crisp or hacked to within an inch of his life but to see it done with such realism felt both liberating and true to the source.

In some ways, the movie works this well because it builds on the failure of previous solo onscreen portrayals of Wolverine, including the dismal last film made also made by James Mangold, the director of Logan. An otherwise competent filmmaker, it seems this time the studios interfered little with his approach. Working together with co-scripter Scott Frank, they focus on the humanity in every situation. It reminded me why growing up, I returned to the local comic book store week after week – not for the high-octane battles and splash pages but for the compassion I felt within each storyline. This is what they get right in Logan. The film ends in the best possible way – without gimmicks, without any door left open for a possible return to this world, without any pretension. This is the closure that both Logan and Hugh Jackman needed and finally get.

Rating: ★★★★½

About Faizan Rashid

A veteran Dubai based film critic, Faizan has been reviewing movies for nearly a decade. His work has been published in local newspapers such as 7days and on prestigious online websites such as MSN Arabia and wearethemovies.com