“Logan” calls back directly to “Shane,” including a scene in which the characters watch the film, but it has more echoes of late-career films for icons such as “The Shootist” and “Unforgiven” in the way it deconstructs the line between hero and legend. Logan (Hugh Jackman) is a Western archetype, the gunslinger forced to put away his six-shooters and try to live out his days as routinely as possible. In the world of “Logan,” The Uncanny X-Men comics exist, meaning that Logan/Wolverine is like a retired sports hero or celebrity, someone who’s recognized but no longer really essential. It is 2029 and mutants have been removed from the human bloodline, meaning that the creaky Logan and the nonagenarian Professor X (Patrick Stewart) are the end of an era. Or are they?
When the film opens, Logan is laying low, working as a driver. He’s introduced sleeping in his car, as a group of tough guys try to steal his tires. When he attempts to stop them, he gets shot, but we all know bullets don’t do much to Wolverine, and it’s minutes before his Adamantium claws are slicing through skull and bone in ways we’ve never seen on film before. Not only is “Logan” the first R-rated iteration of this classic character but Mangold’s approach to action is unique for the Marvel film brand. Gone is any sense of hyperactive editing or wide overhead shots to disguise the stunt and CGI work. We’re close to the action in this film, often shot from low to the ground, more like a “Bourne” film than a superhero movie, and the focus is more on fight choreography than editing. Jackman’s work in the fight scenes is smooth but also character-driven in that Wolverine’s style reflects the no-nonsense approach of the character. “Logan” also works in a few fantastic chase scenes later in the film, and again it doesn’t feel like the film stops and takes a break for set pieces as so many superhero movies do—the action is organic to the story and the characters, much like “Mad Max: Fury Road” in that regard.