Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine Claws his way into the Sunset
Directed by James Mangold
Starring Hugh Jackman, Patrick Stewart, Dafne Keen
Released March 3rd, 2017
In the future, James Howlett works as a chauffeur in Texas. You can hire him to take you across town. You can hire him for your bachelorette party. He’s affordable. He has a nice car. James has seen better days, at least physically. Mentally he’s always been a little rough around the edges. But now his body isn’t healing the way it used to. He needs reading glasses. And his adamantium claws sometimes have trouble retracting. Old age is a bummer.
One day a man with a metal hand gets in the back of Mr. Howlett’s car and tells him it’s an honor to meet him. He knows James is The Wolverine, a former (reluctant) member of the famed mutant superhero team The X-Men. The X-Men, and mutants in general, have been out of the picture for a long time. James tell the man to get out of his car, except he doesn’t ask quite so nicely.
James is living with fellow mutant Caliban (Stephen Merchant) in an abandoned smelting plant across the Mexican border. I imagine they pass time making “He who smelt it dealt it” jokes to each other. They also take care of Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart), the former Professor X of Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters.
Charles is suffering from dementia, which is tragic even without being the world’s most powerful telepath. Charles still calls James “Logan,” a moniker he went by for many years. Charles is convinced there is a new mutant they must save. Logan doesn’t believe him, or doesn’t want to believe him.
The man with the metal hand is Donald Pierce (Boyd Holbrook). He and his team of Reavers are searching for a young mutant and will stop at nothing to find her. This includes kidnapping Caliban and forcing him to use his mutant tracking powers to locate her. They are not nice cybernetic people.
The girl in question is Laura Kinney (Dafne Keen), a young Latina who doesn’t say much. She would rather let her adamantium claws do the talking. As Charles pointedly asks Logan, “Does she remind you of anybody?”
Laura, AKA “X-23,” takes Charles and Logan on what may be a wild goose chase toward a safe haven for new mutants christened “Eden.” Logan doesn’t think the place exists since Laura’s proof comes from the pages of an old X-Men comic book, but he agrees to help her anyway.
This is a violent film, featuring severed heads and innumerable impalements. Blood spills and screams echo. Our villains eager, our heroes weary. It’s action-packed, but not a cheerful affair. Nor should it be. We know it’s the last Wolverine story and so do these characters.
Patrick Stewart’s turn as a struggling, elderly Professor X is heart-wrenching. He’s the film’s center, the perfect connective tissue to the X-Men cinematic universe. Boyd Holbrook makes for a good, smarmy villain. If the character of Laura Kinney appears in future X-Men films, I hope they keep Dafne Keen in the role. She brings X-23 to life with the right mix of sadness and anger.
It’s safe to say no other actor has ever embodied a comic book character as much as Hugh Jackman has as Wolverine. While he may not resemble the Wolverine on the page, he IS the character, heart and soul. Jackman has long cared about getting this character right and after seventeen years and ten films, he finally has a movie worthy of his dedication.
There are three classic Wolverine comic book stories: Origins, The Japanese Saga and Old Man Logan. WIth varying degrees of success, all three have been adapted into movies. Without question, Logan is the best film about this character.
It would be tough to rank Logan with other X-Men films since it’s not really a team-driven movie. It’s mostly a solo affair. The only negative thing one might say is it’s too dark, but that’s like saying a Joy Division album is too dark.
Marco Beltrami’s score is one of the many highlights of this grim western, a mournful send-off for an iconic character. We may never see another comic book film as powerfully elegiac as Logan.