Wolverine is the best there is at what he does, and what he does -- according to the first wave of reviews for "Logan" -- is pretty damned good.
Fox's embargo lifted on Friday, triggering an avalanche of praise for director James Mangold's film, billed as Hugh Jackman's final appearance as Wolverine, a character he's portrayed nine times over the course of nearly 17 years. "Logan" has a 96 percent "fresh" rating on Rotten Tomatoes, with critics dubbing it the best Wolverine film to date -- some may argue that's not a difficult accomplishment -- and at least one characterizing it as not merely the definitive X-Men movie but possibly the definitive superhero movie.
CBR's Kristy Puchko lauded the casting and performances, singling out Boyd Holbrook, Dafne Keen and, of course, Jackman and Patrick Stewart: "Having spent decades watching Stewart and Jackman in these roles, scenes where their characters speak in shorthand as they confront their shared history and grim future hold a dizzying dramatic weight. Respecting the films that have come before, Mangold has dug deep into these characters to give Jackman’s Logan a superb final act, electric with emotion and grounded in grit."
Although the reviews aren't all positive, they're certainly overwhelmingly so. Here's a selection of what the critics are saying about "Logan":
Geoffrey McNab, The Independent: "'Logan' is a Marvel movie with a bit of soul and some true grit. Presumed to be the final outing for Wolverine, it plays more like a late period John Wayne western than it does like a conventional superhero film."
Germain Lussier, i09.com: "Most of the film feels like a small, character-driven story and yet, every conversation had, every tiny pause taken, it all feels meaningful and larger than life. Characters hurt each other, love each other, and the audience feels those emotions. Surprises in the film delight us, crush us — impact us just like they impact Logan, Xavier, and Laura. You simply don’t get that depth of engagement in a superhero movie. Hell, you don’t get it in most movies, period."
Mark Daniell, Toronto Sun: "If 'Deadpool' reinvented what a superhero movie could be – ultra-violent, irreverent and hilarious – then 'Logan' takes the genre to the next level. Star Hugh Jackman isn’t just giving us the definitive X-Men movie; it could just be the definitive comic book movie."
Brian Truitt, USA Today: '"Logan' is about 20 minutes too long, and a subplot about processed foods, while relevant, feels a smidge heavy-handed. But mostly the movie is brilliantly on point in its influences — the 1953 Western classic 'Shane' plays a key role — and how it ties in to the previous movies without being beholden to them."
Kyle Anderson, Nerdist: "This is honestly one of the best comic book movies of all time."
Stephanie Zacharek, Time: "There’s bleak nihilism aplenty in 'Logan.' It’s as if Mangold, in the production’s infant days — he also cowrote the script, with Michael Green and Scott Frank — had looked into a crystal ball and seen a crisp vision of the post-election despair that many Americans would be feeling in the early days of 2017. There’s no doubt that Logan, with its focus on persecuted outsiders, is tapping the national mood of at least half the country right now."
Sandy Schaefer, Screen Rant: "If 'Logan' so far sounds almost too character-driven and slow-burn, rest assured: Mangold also delivers the goods, when it comes to fully unleashing Jackman’s Wolverine in all his R-Rated, Berserker Rage glory on the big screen. No longer held back by the restrictions of the PG-13 Rating, Mangold and his director of photography John Mathieson ('X-Men: First Class') deliver close-quarter fight sequences and Wolverine brawls that are both genuinely hard-hitting and less jaggedly-edited than those in Mangold’s 'The Wolverine,' by comparison."
Sheri Linden, The Hollywood Reporter: "For fans who are intimately versed in the franchise’s playbook (and the comic-book source material), this chapter should prove emotionally satisfying. For those who can’t recite the plotlines of all nine of the preceding X-Men films, the new feature’s noirish, end-of-an-era vibe is an involving hook."
Tasha Robinson, The Verge: "It’s an intense, brutal film, full of sudden waves of bloody mayhem. But the real brutality isn’t in the severed limbs and heads, it’s in the film’s overwhelmingly dark emotional content. This is by far the grimmest the X-Men series has ever been."
Owen Gleiberman, Variety: "It’s Jackman who holds 'Logan' together and gives the film its glimmer of soul. He has been playing this role, more or less nonstop, for 18 years, but he seems startlingly not bored by it. Better still, he’s a more refined actor now than when he started, and in 'Logan,' he gets to play something rare in comic-book cinema: a powerhouse of animal rage who is slowly, agonizingly slipping away. By the end of the movie, he gets his muttonchops back and reminds you, once more, of what’s great about this character — his hellbent quality, embodied in those flesh-ripping kills that are his way of making good on a mutant destiny he never asked for."
Opening March 3 nationwide, "Logan" stars Hugh Jackman, Patrick Stewart, Richard E. Grant, Boyd Holbrook, Stephen Merchant, Dafne Keen, Eriq La Salle, Elise Neal and Elizabeth Rodriguez.