You knew this had to happen one day, right? Wolverine (aka Hugh Jackman) had to hang up his Adamantium claws and retire, so it’s fitting that this movie packs a wallop of emotions in a long chase film that has the ex-X-man clawing his way out of retirement to aid a little girl and his old mentor. A little girl, BTW, that has more in common with ol’ mutton chops than you’d expect!
We fast-forward to the year 2029 and Logan (Jackman) hasn’t aged nicely. He’s grayed, grizzled, alcoholic, and eeking out a living as limo driver in Texas under an assumed name. He’s also living way, way off the grid in an abandoned smelting refinery in Mexico with the last two X-men: an albino mutant tracker called Caliban (Stephan Merchant) and what’s left of Professor Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart), who is severely plagued by seizures that can cripple others around him. Logan just wants to make enough money to buy a boat and sail off into the proverbial sunset, but trouble rears its ugly head.
And that ugly head is Donald Pierce (Boyd Holbrook), the sarcastic, nasty bionic-handed henchmen of Transigen, a secret and sinister hospital where mad scientist/doctor Zander Rice (Richard E. Grant) has been “growing” mutant children, since they no longer are born. But it seems that one of those special mutants escaped from Transigen (with the help of her nurse) and found her way to Logan. This precocious, mute, and extremely violent 11-year-old named Laura (newbie Dafne Keen) also sports Adamantium claws and a real thirst for blood when you get her angry. P.S. don’t get her angry.
Turns out this tyke was cloned from Logan’s DNA, which makes her his (gulp!) daughter! Packing up Charles and Laura, Logan is on the run from Pierce and his band of bad guys and, under Charles’ advice and a strange prediction in a X-men comic book, they’re off to North Dakota to a supposed mutant sanctuary called “Eden”. But no matter where they go, the bad guys are always right behind them, either at a casino or at a nice families home in Oklahoma where (shocker!) Logan meets a new arch-nemesis: X-24, a genetically grown and enhanced younger version of himself that is really MEAN!!
Finally, through thick and thin (not to mention mass deaths, beheadings, and dismemberments) Logan and Laura finally make it to Eden, filled with Transigen child mutant escapees that seek a better life hidden in the forest. But, doggone-it! Those bad guys are unrelenting! Logan, in really bad shape, makes a last-ditch effort to save the kids (and his own daughter) from the soldiers and square-off with X-24 in a climatic show- down that is SO dramatic and heart-wrenching, that I actually teared up; something I very rarely do at the movies.
This marks the end of Jackman’s 17 year film career as Wolverine and, thankfully, he’s got a damn fine script by Scott Frank, Michael Green, and director James Mangold to go out with a bang, not a whimper. Mangold, who also gave us the electric The Wolverine and 3:10 To Yuma knows his stuff, whether it’s behind the camera or writing the screenplay. Yes, it’s lengthy and could have been shortened a bit, but the excitement is palpable throughout the movie, stopping down for some wonderful personal moments with Logan and Charles or a nice quiet family dinner.
Jackman is the heart and soul of this movie, having lost none of his charisma or charm in the almost two decades of playing such a sardonic, vicious, yet complicated mutant that just wants to be human. Stewart is his S.O. with a panache only he can can bring to the table, but it’s little newcomer Dafne Keen that wows us! This Spanish actress only did a BBC series that ran on their laSexta (a Spanish channel) an has the most amazing expressive eyes and down-to-Earth acting skills. This is her motion picture debut, folks!
Yes, it’s a very violent film filled with hard R-rated stuff: F-bombs galore, buckets of blood everywhere, and let’s not forget those triple Wolverine claws in the face, head, and other various body parts! Eeessshhh!! But IF you can look past that, the story is the bittersweet swan-song for the most enduring and lovable of the X-men which Jackman created way back in 2000. But what’s cool is the way he departs isn’t the anti-climatic or Superman’s “not-quite-dead-yet” ending from Batman v Superman. It’s perfect, poignant, and respectful of the character. Smiley emoji.
The Gauntlet (1977)