Way back in 2000 some unknown Aussie punk famous for musicals shaved on some mutton chops, slipped on a leather jump suit and popped some adamantium claws and proceeded over the next 17 years to do justice to a fan favourite comic book character despite being way too tall.
To say Hugh Jackman is connected to this character is an understatement. He is Harrison Ford to Han Solo, Christopher Reeves to Superman, Johnny Depp to Jack Sparrow, he IS the cinematic personification of this role and the dedication playing this character (pretty regularly too) has never wavered even if the movie quality sometime has.
And now it’s over.
Jackman, with this third solo movie (and ninth appearance overall) brings his legacy to a close with Logan, a gritty attempt to nail the character one final time.
And nail it they most certainly do.
What we have here is the most mature superhero movie ever made, even more so than The Dark Knight. A dusty neo-western set in 2029 full of despair and regret, Logan is a washed up limo driver, healing factor all but used up, limping, wheezing and grizzled as fuck. Desperately trying to earn money to get an ailing Professor X somewhere where his frequent fits don’t telepathically kill everyone around him. To see such beloved characters brought so low is legitimately hard to watch but the actors relish the chance to drop any ego. Patrick Stewart in particular seems to be riffing on James Macavoy’s take on Xavier from Days Of Future Past, dropping F-bombs and being amusingly obstinate as Logan grumpily fusses over him. Into this barren existence wanders Laura (an unnervingly fantastic Dafne Keen), a mute, cantankerous child with huge links to Logan, whose large staring eyes pierce more than her own set of Wolvie claws. In her wake, the Reavers, a cybernetically modified team of mercs all boasting a look from the 1980 Luke Skywalker wrist wear collection, arrive to take her back where she came from and so a frenzied family road trip begins in order to get Laura to Dakota and freedom.
The film is fantastic, brooding, intelligent and utterly heartbreaking, with great performances (the three leads are excellent) and savvy direction (this is James Mangold’s second crack at Wolverine) but the real kicker here is the stupendous levels of violence on show. R rated superhero movies aren’t new, Deadpool amusingly pulled off the same trick last year, but this ain’t no comedy, this is the Wolverine movie you were waiting for. Limbs are severed, heads are removed and the only thing that gushed more than cleaved arteries was me. The gore in this movie is an utter kick and it’s welcome. Problems? It’s long and some looking for the usual superhero pyrotechnics may find the pacing way too slow for their liking, plus for a movie that plays the long game so well, it finishes quite abruptly but it’s infinitely better than the robot samurai shenanigans of the previous outing.
Not only is this the best Wolverine movie, it’s actually is one of the best X-Men movies period and putting the awful Fantastic 4 and later mutant movies aside, Fox really seems to be getting to grips with making their superhero movies more varied and interesting than their distant MCU cousins – but isn’t that what the DC universe was supposed to achieve?
A fitting send off (until Wolverine gets recast, of course) and a cracking movie, Jackman, like his cinematic persona, really was the best at what he does