Review – Sharp as an Adamantium Claw (“Logan”)

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!
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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)


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A grizzled cop has to deliver a non-compliant witness to a certain destination while bad guys are after them? Hmmm. . .that sounds familiar! Clint Eastwood and his go-to lady, Sondra Locke (they made six movies together) did this silly cop/witness on-the-run film sandwiched in-between his highly successful Dirty Harry and western cowboy films. In fact, the character here resembles a thinly-veiled Harry Callahan, if not for all the stupid moves he makes.
 
Eastwood plays Ben Shockley, an ordinary Arizona Metro cop who is tasked with bringing a belligerent witness from Las Vegas back to their courthouse to testify against the mob. The witness, Augustina “Gus” Mally (Locke), is a chip-on-her-shoulder feisty hooker with street smarts and more than a match for the burned-out Shockley, who just wants to get the job done. In fact, he’s been set-up by his own boss, Commissioner Blakelock (William Prince), but Shockley’s too dumb to realize it, hell, Mally figures it out before he does! It seems that Blakelock is the very man who the hooker is going to testify against, and he’ll stop at nothing to kill them both!
 
Shockley and Mally then start their ill-fated road trip from Vegas (with a betting pool on them as well–100 to 1 odds they don’t make it!), which is fraught with cops galore trying to kill them, and the pair trading barbs at each other about who’s smarter. Spoiler alert: she is. They steal cars, chopped hogs, and finally a tour bus that Shockley plans to drive he and Mally into downtown Arizona and right up to the steps of the courthouse to deliver his witness.
 
In the finale, Blakelock does just that: drives that gauntlet with a police hailstorm of firepower going on as the slow-moving bus drives through town. WHY Shockley decides to drive the bus going only 10mph is anyone’s guess. . . maybe for dramatic effect, I suppose. Anyway, Blakelock is found out and get’s his and Shockley and Mally walk away, all bloody and banged-up, but alive and happily-ever-after.
 
Written by Michael Butler and Dennis Shryack, this lackluster Eastwood directed movie came and went without much fanfare. The original film was supposed to star (are you ready for this?) Marlon Brando and Barbra Streisand! I kid you not! Brando withdrew and was replaced with Mr. Cool himself, Steve McQueen. But, Streisand and McQueen, being two A-type personalities, clashed and couldn’t get along, so the picture went to Eastwood and Locke. Low budget and looking that way, the best thing about this film was the one-sheet movie poster, which was painted by legendary Frank Frazetta. It looks more exciting than the movie! 
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