Director: James Mangold
Starring: Hugh Jackman, Patrick Stewart, Dafne Keen, Boyd Holbrook, Stephen Merchant, Richard E. Grant, Elizabeth Rodriguez, Eriq La Salle, Elise Neal, Quincy Fouse, Daniel Bernhardt, Stephen Dunlevy, Krzysztof Soszynski.
It's taken me awhile to write this up for a couple of reasons. There's is something about this film, something that lingers, like an itch you can't scratch long after you watch it. There's something there that niggles me, bugging me still, even after my second viewing. In my opinion, it's not an X-Men movie, yes, official it is, but it's nothing like any of the previous films. It's like director/writer, James Mangold has done away with the typical superhero formula and filled it with drama and emotion making a connection to the characters better than ever before. The other reason is wanting to write a review that gives the film justice without giving away any spoilers. It's a film you want to talk about once you've seen it but so hard to, other than to say "it's good, you should go see it" to people who haven't yet. But, here goes.
Finally, the tenth instalment of the X-Men franchise, the final part of the Wolverine trilogy and the last time we'll be seeing Hugh Jackman as the X-Man, holding the record of playing the same superhero more times than anyone else, that record being 10 times if you include the cameos. Jackman wanted to end it on a high before becoming a "oh, it's you again" character and James Mangold does Wolverine ultimately proud. Possibly learning from critics, previous films and his own mistakes in The Wolverine, a film he didn't write or screenplay. We know he can make a good film, with examples being Walk The Line, Girl, Interrupted and my personal favourite, his remake western, 3:10 to Yuma.
Now, I'm no expert, but this film isn't strictly based on any one comic and Mangold appears to have written an amalgamation of a few comic storylines influenced by Old Man Logan entwined with some of the latter part of The Uncanny X-Men series including X-23 with certain questionable references to Mutant Massacre. It's allowed Mangold to superbly weave together a workable story however, starts off with some very obviously plot-fillers which does make the film very predictable but not in the slightest any less enjoyable.
It's 2029 and there's no one left of the mutant population, apparently wiped out apart from Logan, Charles Xavier and Caliban, being nothing more than relics of a world gone by, forced into hiding to live out their remaining days. But someone comes along, a young girl by the name of Laura who has some remarkable abilities that resemble someone we're all too familiar with. Hunted by the cybernetic Reavers, lead by Boyd Holbrook's Donald Pierce, a rather confident, bold villain that has the same cockiness and attitude of Val Kilmer's Doc Holliday in Tombstone, the remaining mutants are forced to flee and embark on a road trip chase across the states to find safe haven whilst trying to kindle relationships with each other.
Mangold does a great job of focusing on the heroes' vulnerabilities, knuckling down and stripping them of their strengths. He takes advantage of their weaknesses and exploits them bringing a sense of humility and pity towards the characters. Xavier suffering from a form of dementia whilst Logan is getting old and becoming weak from the adamantium that's slowly poisoning him.
Laura, superbly played by relatively new comer Dafne Keen, making this her big screen debut does a captivating piece of work as the mute, killing machine. She gets a crash course in life, learning quickly about right from wrong and what it is to care and grieve. Emotions she has never been allowed to afford being raised as a feral engineered weapon. There's some subtle scenes which displays her emotional development, especially during the end when compared to her fellow subjects proving that her path has taught her more about life than what the others have experienced, watching her transition is mesmerising. I love how they use the classic western Shane to parallel the film and to prove what some of us forget, the reason why some of us love films that teach us those crucial lessons of right from wrong and the areas in between, including honour, courage and hope.
Jackman plays down Logan brilliantly, still wanting to be that lone wolf, selfishly reluctant to help anyone else, even a nine year old mutant that reflects very much of himself. But he cannot help his intrigue or deny his paternal instinct when he recognises her abilities. There's also that misunderstood fear people gain when witnessing what Logan is capable of, showing his tormented soul and his yearning for peace. He's clearly had enough and accepts whatever fate comes to him. I want to discuss this more but can't without spoiling the film.
The supporting cast is good, Richard E. Grant as the soulless corporate head, Dr. Rice who's trying to capture and eradicate his mistakes. Interesting choice of Stephen Merchant to play the albino, mutant tracker, Caliban who unfortunately lacks weirdness for me but still he plays the part well. Patrick Stewart is brilliant, showing a humorous yet entirely different side of Professor X, but Eriq La Salle!!? Thought I recognised the name in the credits only to then recognise the face from Coming to America!
There's some really strong elements here, superbly shot and put together. The impressive action is ferocious and brutal, but doesn't go completely over the bar. It's gone for the R rating but not because of the success of Deadpool as some have assumed, it had always been intended to be an R rated film, however it does seem to compete with Deadpool in terms of cursing, with even Charles Xavier throwing more than a few "F" bombs. It's Marvel without the filter, which is both funny in parts and very welcome.
What nags me, and not in a bad way, is the similarities it shares with others movies and none of which are from previous Marvel or superhero films. There's just more to it. I got a hint of Terminator 2, Man On Fire, Léon, even Solomon Kane and A Perfect World. I think that's what works for me here, it takes all the feeling out of those films and crams it into Logan till bursting. However, slight downside is the ending reminding me a bit of Hook! See if you can see why.
The production is superb overall, not being set to far into the future, there's only a few mild changes that could easily get overlooked like the video billboards and the uber style dashboard. Mangold's regular composer does a soft and often thrilling score with minimalistic piano notes that helps give the film that somber tone. The soothing yet looming theme for "Laura" and "Don't Be What They Made You" are my favourite tracks. I'm keen to see Mangold's black and white version of the film, like George Miller's Mad Max: Fury Road.
It's a Marvel movie for the mature Marvel/superhero fan being right up there with being the most emotional, raw superhero movie which actually, and I thought I would never say this, but aside of Deadpool, make me appreciate the X-Men movies a little more, especially the character of Logan. You might find yourself totally forgetting about the rest of the X-Men.
Can't say it's ended on a high, but that isn't a criticism, it's ended perfect, giving Logan the final farewell he so deserves which ends on a sad low, with many viewers leaving with a tear in their eye. It's so much more than a X-Men movie, it's more than just a superhero movie. It's a perfect ending for Logan, a bold and heartbreaking farewell. Dark, gritty and violent, it's the western of the superhero movies.
Running Time: 10
The Cast: 8
Job Description: 10
The Extra Bonus Point: 10 for breaking the terrible mold the previous X-Men movies has and as a result giving us something entirely different, something more.
Would I buy the Blu-ray?: Yes!
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