This altogether grown-up last outing for Hugh Jackman’s be-clawed anti-hero is bloody, sweary, extremely violent and shamelessly hammers home its’ Western roots, not only quoting from, but playing the finale of Shane. Jackman’s Wolverine, however, is stamped from the same Clint Eastwood mould as Unforgiven, and is his best performance in years.
With Patrick Stewart (X-men) in superb form as the ailing Professor Xavier, the trio of fugitives is rounded out by astonishing newcomer Dafne Keen as a ten-year-old mutant killing machine with claws…
On the run from assorted military bad guys, it’s an existential road trip to consider life, love, guilt, family and above all, redemption, as director James Mangold (3-10 to Yuma, Knight and Day) casts an Indie cloak over a comic-book juggernaut.
The excellent, understated cameos from Stephen Merchant as a mutant tracker and Richard E. Grant as a chilly scientist add a touch of class to otherwise formulaic material; the great thing about Logan is not the story – Unforgiven meets any number of old Westerns with a massive overlay of Universal Soldier – but the way it’s told.
An ageing, sick Logan literally limps along as a limo driver along the Mexican border, living in squalor, sheltering a sickly Charles Xavier with the help of Merchant’s albino tracker Caliban. This is as far from the shiny X-men franchise as you can get. How they ended up there, as possibly the last mutants on Earth, is gradually revealed.
Mangold has produced the most visceral super-hero movie yet; Wolverine was always the most violent of all the Marvel adaptations (Deadpool not withstanding). With a rage-filled anti-hero armed with claws and a dislike of guns, the violence is personal, bloody and brutal.
What lifts this out of the video-nasty drawer are the finely drawn relationships. The gently comic dialogue between The Office‘s Merchant and the irrascible, angry Wolverine is a joy, as is the difficult, surrogate father-son relationship with Stewart.
However, Jackman (Prisoners, Australia) and Stewart may be pipped for the acting honours by the mostly mute Dafne Keen, bringing a full emotional range from homicidal rage to abject sorrow. With action sequences every bit as committed as Jackman, this is one ten year old you don’t want to be near during a tantrum, but one you don’t want to abandon to the horrors of the adult world.
The road trip ends exactly where you expect, and barring the heavy handed quotes from Shane – no one claimed this was in any way subtle – provides a satisfying conclusion to Jackman’s tenure. RC
Director: James Mangold
Writers: James Mangold, Scott Frank, Michael Green
Genre: Action & Adventure, Drama, Science Fiction & Fantasy
Running time: 135 minutes
Cast: Hugh Jackman, Patrick Stewart, Dafne Keen, Stephen Merchant, Richard E. Grant, Erique La Salle, Elise Neal,Boyd Holbrook