Hugh Jackman has stated that Logan will be his swan song as the surly superhero Wolverine, who has been the heart of the X-Men franchise for the past 17 years. If this is indeed the end of the road for the big mutton-chopped mutant after five X-Men adventures and two spin-off movies, the best has been saved for last.

There’s a foreboding sense of finality in the very first scene of Logan; the former X-man is now a limo driver who walks with a limp and has a bad cough. He’s older, greyer and slower to heal and his claws sometimes don’t fully extend; consequently, it takes him longer than usual to despatch a group of rednecks attempting to jack his ride.   

Presumably set in the alternate timeline following the events of Days of Future Past, Logan is now in hiding in Mexico with Professor X (Patrick Stewart), who’s in his nineties and suffering from Alzheimer’s and seizures that create deadly psychic shockwaves – “a degenerative brain disease in the world’s most dangerous brain.”

Mutants have become practically extinct by the year 2029, so mad scientist Dr. Rice (Richard E. Grant) has been designing his own, one of whom is a mute young girl named Laura (Dafne Keen), who has her own set of adamantium blades and the attitude to match. Having escaped and found her way into Logan’s care, the Wolverine becomes a surrogate father to this temperamental little mutant and the pair hit the road, but don’t expect a sentimental journey – Logan is more concerned with slicing through heartstrings than tugging them. 

Where Deadpool rewrote the rulebook for violence in superhero movies, Logan throws it out. This is the most atypical film in the genre to date and also the bloodiest, with decapitations, impalement and dismemberment galore – do not take your kids to see this! Kudos to director James Mangold for taking the creative risk of transplanting the Wolverine into a brutal and intense action-thriller devoid of the usual global threat, mutant ensemble and visual effects overload we’ve come to expect from the X-Men universe.

As moody as its title character, Logan is an X-Men film played as a Western noir; an early scene has Professor X and Laura watching Shane, providing a nice analogy to the ‘family’ Logan is sworn to protect from Rice’s cybernetically enhanced goon (Boyd Holbrook).

Jackman hasn’t been this good since Prisoners, and the best he’s ever been as the Wolverine. Stewart, although ailing here, is in top form too. It’s been a while since we’ve seen Logan with this incarnation of Prof X and fans will be reminded how well the dynamic works. Moreover, the relationship between Logan and Laura nicely parallels that of Rogue in the original X-Men film, providing a nice bookend.

After two mediocre solo adventures, the Wolverine is finally given the standalone film he deserves and a fantastic, albeit relentlessly grim, farewell.

In cinemas: March 2, 2017
Starring: Hugh Jackman, Patrick Stewart, Dafne Keen
Directed by: James Mangold