First Hit: As a superhero movie, it's realistically dark and thoughtful.
Most superhero films are either tongue in cheek, lighthearted, go overboard on the superpower action, or all of these things. This film doesn’t do any of this. It is downright about the characters some who have superpower traits.
We have Logan (Hugh Jackman) as Wolverine who is aging, ill, and driving a limousine to make enough money for him and Caliban (Stephen Merchant) to take care of X-Men leader Charles (Patrick Stewart) who is dying. They are living out in the middle of nowhere and seem to be counting their days till they fade away and die. There haven’t been any new mutants born in the last 25 years and the clan is dying out.
However, a Dr. Rice (Richard E. Grant) has been experimenting with genetics on embryos and young children trying to create warriors/soldiers with superpower abilities. He's trying to create his own mutants. However, he's discovered that they have feelings and minds and cannot be controllable easily. He thinks he's got a way to make mutants that don't act on their own so he decides to kill all his previous experiments. Learning this, the young kids who are still alive, stage a revolt and escape.
Laura (Dafne Keen) is assisted by a nurse in the clinic and is in search of finding Logan because Laura has Logan's genetics and his wolverine superpower. The story is about how Logan helps Laura escape Pierce (Boyd Holbrook), Dr. Rice and a group of soldiers whose job is to kill all the remaining mutant children.
The effective parts of the story include strong acting by Jackman as a superhero whose both aging and slowly being poisoned by the adamantium (fictional metal alloy) that is imbedded in his body. The high-strung touchiness by which Logan and Caliban have towards each other while taking care of an ever-fragile Charles is indicative of their fading lives. The scenes are designed to breathe and nothing was rushed to show the strength of the mutant children, Laura, Charles, Logan, or Caliban. However, the ending fight was a little elongated and the men brought in to capture the mutants were too large an army to be believable.
From an acting point of view Jackman was perfect. It would be my guess that he’s probably glad to end his reign as Wolverine. He ends it with dignity which is a good thing because Marvel has let other characters in its stable get too far afield to enjoy or believe. Merchant was wonderful as Caliban with his ability to track and find. He made this role work. Stewart was wonderful and, like Jackman, is probably glad to have this role end because series like these can get too wildly convoluted. Grant was appropriately arrogant as Dr. Rice. Keen was mind-blowingly sublime. I loved her character and silence throughout the film until the end. She was totally believable. Holbrook as the soldier tasked with finding Laura was appropriately demonized. Scott Frank, James Mangold, and Michael Green wrote a very solid, strong and not overdone script. Characters could grow and develop which is rare in a superhero type film. Mangold did a wonderful job of directing this story and making it work.
Overall: This was one of the best superhero mutant films on the books.