This image released by Twentieth Century Fox shows Dafne Keen, left, and Hugh Jackman in a scene from "Logan."

This image released by Twentieth Century Fox shows Dafne Keen, left, and Hugh Jackman in a scene from "Logan."

Ben Rothstein/Twentieth Century Fox via AP

Logan is practically an X-Men movie in name only. It's certainly not the bright, generally-optimistic fare we've received from most recent Marvel Comics adaptations. It's not even the pessimistic-but-hilarious schtick from the last hit R-rated Marvel movie, Deadpool.

In fact, Logan might be more accurately compared to the bleak, post-apocalyptic film The Road (albeit with more action and a higher body count) than other comic book movie in recent history. 

The year is 2029 (though you wouldn't know it. Technology and civilization has, if anything, regressed), and mutants have more or less been wiped out. The titular Logan (Hugh Jackman, returning to a role he's been playing since 2000) is no longer Wolverine. Sure, he still has the claws and you definitely don't want to pick a fight with him, but he's a shadow of his former self. He makes a crappy living as a driver and he lives practically as a hermit in the desert.

Most importantly, however, he's not regenerating like he used to. His trademark healing ability, which has kept him not only alive, but young, is failing. Old Man Logan can't easily recover from every blow, one of his claws doesn't always fully extend, and even his eyesight has started to leave him.

Nonetheless, he serves as the protector for Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart), now a nonagenarian suffering from seizures and senility. The most powerful brain on the planet is malfunctioning. The pair is struggling just to survive when a woman seeks Logan out and asks for his help. She is being pursued by shadowy agents, but she wants to protect a young girl named Laura (Dafne Keen) -- a girl with super strength, claws and a familiar ability to regenerate.

Logan will be most effective to viewers who already have a connection to Wolverine and Professor X, but it works surprisingly well as a standalone story.

It doesn't bog itself down with mythology or strained connections to other movies. 

While the film opens with a bloody action sequence, Logan is more than just a movie about a superhero that's past his prime. It serves as a thoughtful meditation on the series' past and humanity's future. There are plenty of quiet moments of reflection, some of which might even bring tears to your eyes. 

It's not a movie about superpowers and global conspiracies. It's a movie about age, fatherhood and hope in the next generation.

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The plot plays tug of war between Logan's worn out pessimism and Laura's possibly naive belief in a safe haven called Eden. Logan believes Eden exists only in X-Men comic books (which, somewhat humorously, exist in-universe as modern-day fairy tales), but the sense of duty and morality that he has often tried to bury throughout the series leads him to take the girl toward Eden anyway.

It runs long and has a bit more action than it really needs, but Logan will likely find a spot among the best comic book adaptations to grace a movie theater. While other movies are in an arms race to pack as many superheroes as they can on screen, this one succeeds by zeroing in on just one abrasive old man and making us care more about him than we previously thought possible.

Logan (B+)

Rated R (for strong brual violence and language throughout, and for brief nudity). 137 minutes. In wide release.

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