Drama/Action/Sci-fi, 137 Minutes, 2017
Before we begin, we must recognize the true hero of this story: Chatty-guy-behind-us. When the movie was sneakily attempting to foreshadow something or self-indulgently tried to build a moment, Chatty-guy was there for us! He heroically defused the tension from key scenes and selflessly, loudly kept us informed of events happening directly in front of us on a giant screen.
That boy deserves a medal. A god-damned medal.
This is, of course, Hugh Jackman’s [IMDB] last outing as the gruff, claw-wielding mutant, Wolverine. This is universally acclaimed as the role he was born to play. To many fans he is Wolverine and there can be no other. Simultaneously, the character’s solo outings have been more miss than hit and Jackman’s age is becoming more of an issue in this age of time traveling arcs. The goal here is to create nothing less than the definitive Wolverine story to .
To do that, certain conventions had to be ignored. Firstly, the forced adherence to the PG-13 rating needed to go despite the common wisdom that this is box-office suicide. Happily, last year’s DeadPool [My Review], already took that risk and it paid off wildly. Wolverine is a man with foot-long, razor sharp claws as his primary means of offense. For any story about him to make sense, there needs to be blood.
Secondly, and this was a risk not previously taken, the spectacle needed to go as well. This isn’t a huge movie. The world isn’t being saved and nothing ridiculously enormous crashes in slow-motion into a beloved city. Despite the many effective action scenes, it’s a quiet movie. Introspective and focused on consequences rather than desires. It’s about endings, not beginnings.
Being a mutant has lost it’s appeal by 2029. New mutants haven’t been born in decades and the few that are left are trying to live our their lives in peace. Logan himself is working as a chauffeur and feeling his age. His powers are failing and his past is haunting him. He’s hidden the aged Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart [IMDB]), who’s suffering from dementia and terrible seizures that crush the minds of anybody nearby, in the remote desert.
He plans to earn enough to buy a boat and take himself and Charles far away from others. These plans are interrupted when a dangerous young mutant girl (Dafne Keen [IMDB]) enters his life. She’s being hunted by the illegal program that created her, eager to destroy the evidence of their mistakes.
Much of the story falls into the “grump-with-a-heart-of-gold” and road-movie cliches. Will the anti-social Logan come to care for this orphan that resembles him so strongly? Yes, he will! Will our heroes find help in unlikely places? Sure! Will there be gags about used cars? Yup! The strong script and cast makes every tired trope work.
Jackman and Stewart, the pessimist and the optimist, play off of one-another beautifully. There’s a deep affection between them that’s organic and deeply genuine. It’s a dark, gritty story not because that’s the fad, but because that’s what made sense for the character. This is the definitive Wolverine story.