Logan ★★★★★

This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.

This review may contain spoilers.

A rumbling, raging action epic, James Mangold's "Logan" is soulful farewell to one of this century's most revered cinematic heroes. A powerful and moving meditation on heroism, aging, and family, Mangold's film transcends to tropes of the superhero film to become one of that subgenre's most striking exemplars.

Beginning in 2029, a year that finds mutantkind widely exterminated, "Logan" revolves around the last remaining mutants' attempt to live under the dangerous eye of those who could do them harm. When a young girl comes to those men in need of protection, a journey begins that will lead to both a vital hope and a weary end.

"Logan" is as much about the end as it is the future. Its titular hero is sick and worn down, but there is a new heart beating in the distance. He is dying but has not lost the spark that turned him from a feral assassin into a teacher, friend, and hero.

The narrative serves as a deconstruction and humanization of the superhero myth where its characters face an end unforeseen in their comic book source material. Painting the superhero story as a Western, however, the hero rises even as he rushes headlong into his demise; hope and family turn antihero toward a fitting sunset where a human being's heroic truth is writ large.

Mangold eschews comic book color for an action outing that is nearly plaintive. Cameras stare into tired eyes and furrowed brows delivered in close, unblinking shots. This is dusty, gritty, sepia world where the sun has bleached joyful shades out of the landscape, leaving only rust and refuse.

The tone is heavy, but shadows of happiness flutter forth. Character and characters are at the fore of the production, but the work is rife with action spectacle. Violence is stinging, and the film does not shy away from the impact of claw and bullet. Action beats race, creating spectacular and exhilarating stretches that juxtapose stirring, emotionally rich character moments.

Those character are portrayed gloriously by actors who have filled their respective roles for nearly 20 years. Hugh Jackman concludes a 17-year run as Wolverine with a glowering anger and lament that can not conceal a muscular, inviting charisma; while Patrick Stewart presents a Charles Xavier that is a broken, empty husk of the man he once was.

Haunting, bold, and riveting, "Logan" combines melancholy notes with inspiring passages for a film that sends off its titular hero in unforgettably potent fashion. It is a sad goodbye communicated by excellent and invigorating cinema.

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