The movie equivalent to Frank Miller's renowned comic book The Dark Knight Returns, this entry in the X-Men series is amazingly moving and grown-up, elevating the superhero genre to new heights. Jackman gives an astonishing performance as a hurting Logan; he's no longer Wolverine, just a man who's lived a hard, hard life and is looking at an unforgiving, grim future. Meanwhile, director James Mangold completely reverses the hatchet job he did on his last outing The Wolverine, here delivering a sad, fatalistic -- yet stunningly poignant -- look at regret and loss.
It's almost like a Western, filled with cracked, dusty American spaces. (Shane is shown on TV.) Characters wrestle with the landscape on the exterior while wrestling with their pasts, fears, and desires on the interior. It helps that we know Logan so well and that he's been so impossibly cool for so long. Now he becomes human for the first time, experiencing what a family might have been like, as well as a longing for resignation. The movie has action, but, rather than celebrating exhilaration, it's deliberately wearisome, shadowing the end of an era. Perhaps most profoundly, Logan achieves a sense of generations, of life changing, unknown, leaving some folks behind but trudging forever on.