James Mangold (2017)
And here we have the future of the Fox franchise of X-Men movies. After a good number of disastrous attempts at finding its flavour, its unique formula, the studio seems to have finally squared in on its niche. With Deadpool as an initiator, Logan ushers in the age of the R-rated superhero movie. It is not going to make nearly as much money as Deadpool but that is going to be offset by its lower budget and the fact that all things considered, that is still a financial step in the right direction for Fox.
Thus we get the Wolverine we deserved and in all probability, a whole bunch of them in the future. Finally, we get to see him sic legions of adversaries in proper gory fashion and speak as the Wolverine should, with the appropriate amount of profanity. It always bothered me that a character who clawed his way through his enemies had been restraining from using children-unfriendly language and somehow so far and managed to bloodlessly stab everyone somehow. Not making a mess was his ultimate mutant power. Logan is gleefully awash in blood and all sorts of wonderful violence, sometimes perpetrated by a decapitation-prone child, which only makes things better.
The bleak futurescape of Mangold's seems to me like Fox's way of giving Xavier and Logan a real send-off. The movie is a buddy road movie almost as much as an action flick. The tone is unusually dark for a superhero story that doesn't have Zack Snyder's name attached to it. Mutants are a dying breed and Xavier is responsible for the destruction of the X-Men. This is probably not the future of the main X-Men timeline of McAvoy and co. but it still makes for an off-putting prospect. In any instance, it gives Xavier the best character arc he has had so far and Logan his second best as he must care for Laura.
The writing of the relationships is seconded by the humor of the script, which finds its own, personal tone, that fits the movie better than something on a more Deapoolish level. It's good that the screenplay can rely on those two pillars because the plot is not exactly the tightest, best thought through succession of events one might wish for. It was obvious from the first that that nice family would be slaughtered, all our heroes' fault, and that leaving the nurse alone with people on her tracks was a poor strategic choice. If you have not built sympathy for Logan by then, I can imagine it not working for you.
The changes they made to her comic book origins are odd because I cannot see what motivated them. Making her a child rather than a teenager is probably an empathy thing that is meant to change the surrogate daughter-father dynamic. What is accomplished by turning the cloning-responsible doctor into a nurse though, or by slightly changing the point of the laboratory? I suppose that makes the nurse more likeable.
The peripheral characters are the great issue of the movie. Caliban is disposed of, by his friends and the movie, with too much ease off-handedness. His sacrifice strikes a wrong note because his friends never so much as gave him another second's thought. The villains, as has become a sure bet in these movies, are bland non-characters and X-24 is a cheap way to increase the threat level. The scientist was the only one with potential but his backstory is not something that is explored or exploited, it's just there to give him a couple extra lines and make him look cooler. Finally, the clones are more a ragtag group of generic child types rather than actual people, and are only power-competent when the pacing of the action requires it, which is odd because they were trained by the same people who created killing-machine-Laura.