My favourite kind of superhero film is one that doesn't feel like a superhero film at all, which is exactly why Logan shredded my expectations like a sharpened finger-knife slicing through a bad guy's skull. In Hugh Jackman's final outing as the beloved X-Men comic book character Wolverine, Logan feels like a blood-stained, hair-matted, clothes-shredded howl at the moon for the franchise, and about as far from neon spandex and wearing undies on the outside as superheroes can get.
Set in 2029, mutants are now outliers of society, and are very nearly extinct. Logan lives in what looks like a Mad Max outpost in El Paso with Charles "Professor X" Xavier (a suitably cranky Patrick Stewart) and albino mutant Caliban (a suitably pale Stephen Merchant). Professor X is 90 now, and battling paralytic seizures that can harm all people in his wake - hence the isolation. Biding their time, the mutant ranch is upheaved by the arrival of a little mute girl named Laura (Dafne Keen), forced upon Logan by her now-deceased caregiver.
It becomes patently clear that Laura is a chosen one, her fingers shooting knives, her body capable of superhuman strength and agility.
But was she chosen, or was she made? In hot pursuit from the laboratory in which she had escaped, the El Paso mutant gang set about on a road trip to safety from Dr Xander Rice (a deliciously villainous Richard E. Grant) and his genetically-altered henchmen. What transpires is a touching family road movie with lashings of R16 hyper-violence, a cat and mouse chase across the country led by a grizzled, waning Hugh Jackman in a warts-and-all swansong to the character that made him famous.
Directed by James Mangold (The Wolverine), Logan slows the pace down to match the ageing body of its protagonist, a lot more pensive and emotional than you might expect a movie about a man with claws for fingers to be. In taking the young girl under his wing, Jackman manages to find his soft spot without ever becoming too sappy, his musings on life and family glimmering sparsely through blackened eyes. Patrick Stewart remains a treasure as the ailing Xavier, reflecting on the end of his life in a way that screams more The Bucket List than X-Men.
Let's not get too sentimental though; there are plenty of spurts of brutal violence to keep fans of action happy. With an R16 rating, Logan unleashes the gore in beheadings, burnings and a gnarly Jackman v Jackman fight that has to be seen to be believed. The cinematography is classically gritty, punctuated perfectly by a whopping sound design that thuds, slashes and pulses through the film. All this violence and noise is peppered with sadness, as Logan markedly becomes weaker throughout the course of the film. If you've seen the teaser trailer, Johnny Cash's Hurt sums up the pain that aches under every scene.
Having lived with the character for 18 years, Hugh Jackman's farewell to Logan is particularly poignant. He ends his journey on a pitch-perfect note that lands directly in the cross hairs of the heart, potentially paving the way for a new generation without promising anything concrete. You don't need to like superheroes to enjoy this film, you just need to know that it will leave you welling up with tears and clutching your loved ones, which is a momentous achievement for any blockbuster indeed.