Logan is a punch in the gut in all the right ways. Onscreen, the X-Men series has always found ways to morph and expand, from time-traveling fantasy to social allegory to political thriller. Here we have a superhero story taken to new extremes and a franchise to a spare, sad, apocalyptic finish (or "finish"), with R-rated action both rousing and unbearably violent.
The year is 2029. Logan/Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) lives in an abandoned smelter south of the border, where he takes care of a delusional, ailing Professor Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart) inside a collapsed water tower with help from an albino mutant-tracker named Caliban (Stephen Merchant). Something in this future has gone wrong. Professor X, as he was once known, is losing his mind in the worst way possible: His seizures can level city blocks.
Into their dying world steps a former nurse named Gabriela (Elizabeth Rodriguez) and a young, mute girl named Laura (Dafne Keen). Gabriela's trying to protect Laura from a group of deadly soldiers -- turns out the girl is a lab-created, rage-prone killing machine with retractable blades in her hands, just like Logan. The bitter, forgotten superhero understands better than anyone else what's going on in the child's mind, so away they go to escape into Canada.
Logan holds to its melancholy, elegiac vein. The despair comes not just from what we're seeing onscreen but from a vague memory of a better past -- the communitarian X movies. Logan is not so much a refutation of them, but their cautionary flip side — what happens when a community falls apart and the bad guys have all but won.