By Aidan Bayford
Seventeen years and nine movies later, the Wolverine’s (Hugh Jackman) narrative comes to the 97 million-dollar conclusion he deserved; even if it’s not the one my tender, little heart needed right now, but I’ll take it because Twentieth Century Fox didn’t exactly nail the first two attempts.
Despite the Wolverine’s best efforts to avert Sentinel induced apocalypse, the X-Men succumb to the devastating fate they always had coming. Now, hiding out with Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart) and Caliban (Stephen Merchant), the Wolverine has decided his immortality impairing illness is a sure way out. The story is gritty and rough, but thrilling for the most part – there’s something terribly compelling about the Wolverine when he has to drag himself along by messing up a wall real bad.
The director, James Mangold, packs this mostly well-paced, conflicted, and unapologetically brutal outing into just over two hours. Hit the mid-way point and things slow down a little, and it gives off an obvious ‘if you stay, everyone will die’ vibe. Hack through that, and Mangold has you covered with more goon fatalities then you can swing your rusty claws at. So, he gets a pass and an 88 million-dollar box office. A 92% on ‘Rotten Tomatoes’ can’t hurt either, right?
Thematically, the film doesn’t disappoint, and it ventures into some dark places (but that’s the benefit of being the first X-Men film tagged with a 15 – unless we’re including Deadpool, of course). You’ll witness everything from the struggles of old age, to experimentation on children, to suicide, and it’s a real whirlwind of fresh air for the super-hero genre. Sure, I’m certainly not ready to see old man Thor, but the genre has a major problem within the fact that one can rest just a little too easily on a hero’s safety. Knowing some of my childhood heroes are genuinely fighting for survival really elevated my interest in this story.
Hugh Jackman delivers his usual class act: massive biceps and massive charisma. Dafne Keen’s Laura, or X-23, is unforgettable, as she gives a crushingly ferocious performance despite the absence of any dialogue for the first two acts of the film. Patrick Stewart represents a slight wildcard as he drip-feeds the occasional (sad) old man gag, whilst simultaneously being frustrated at Logan’s short-comings. The film’s villains will not likely be a topic of major discussion for anyone as they leave the cinema. They’re admittedly okay and they certainly serve their purpose, but that’s it. Boyd Holbrook and Richard E. Grant are great, but the script just renders them kind of forgettable – and I went to see the film twice.
Ultimately, what Logan provides is the last chance to see daydream Hugh Jackman grunt his way to peace and redemption in this fitting farewell.
Rating – 4.5/5
Featured image courtesy of 20th Century Fox