Tuesday, 28 February 2017
Old Man Jackman.
137 Mins. Starring: Hugh Jackman, Patrick Stewart, Dafne Keen, Boyd Holbrook, Eriq La Salle, Stephen Merchant & Richard E. Grant. Director: James Mangold.
SNIKT! Savour that sound. Because this is the last time you're going to hear from The Wolverine, Hugh Jackman. 17 years. The year 2000. Before the 'Origins' of the 'X-Men' trilogy came the original in these 'Days Of Future Past'. B.D.J. Before Downey Jr. Before Iron Man. Before the Marvel Studios cinematic universe. Fox had the wolf. It's been a long time. But this is it. Ever since Hugh Jackman teased his 'One Last Time' as 'Logan', The Wolverine with an Instagram photo of him holding up his middle claw, father time has been ticking its hands and delicate fingers. Two decades. Almost twenty years. How do you survive all the Professor Xavier's and Magneto's? From Stewart to McAvoy. Fassbender to McKellen. You have to have adamantium skin. And this Australian is indestructible as the Canadian lone wolf superhero. Going down and under, all the way up north and even further east. As after the terrific trilogy that climaxed in him burning with the Phoenix, Jackman was still jacked up and ready for his own fun and fancy 'Origins' film that introduced us to a certain way of Wade Wilson played by charismatic motormouth merc Ryan Reynolds. And after a cameo in the rebooted trilogy that was truly 'First Class', Hugh helped bring everything together, old and confusing timeline new for the best X film, 'Days Of Future Past'. The clawed Canuck-who we wish we could just see alongside the rest of Marvel's Avengers like Spider-Man's homecoming, rights be damned-also, with a cutting cameo saved last years X-Men trilogy conclusion mess that has now lead to a much smaller screen from truly being an 'Apocalypse'. But now in an apocalyptic New Mexico of 2029 there's only a few mutants left amongst the last of us. And this 'Leon' like story sees him playing protector and guardian come hell or high water to an X23 snikt replacement that's like him, very much like him. In this no country for old man Logan X-Men that is just as much a neo-western as it is a superhero movie. A neo-comic book classic that is just as much a 'Best Picture' candidate just days after all that Oscar confusion as it is a balls and blood out 'John Wick: Chapter 2' early blockbuster starter before the web crawler, norse God and 'Guardians' take over for Volume 2.
After making 'The Wolverine' big in Japan with the Logan in translation trip to the neon rain and Samurai slicing gore of Tokyo, Hugh Jackman reunites with 'Walk The Line' director James Mangold for some wild west 'Hurt' over Johnny Cash. Typography set to some white on black lettering akin to the Man In Black's coming around, late, great 'American Recordings' classic set. And complete with a Rick Rubin beard, Logan's last run borders on the brutal and beautiful with as much tears as blood shed and spilt. And yes Bub it's an R rated affair thanks to the X Force of the fourth wall and genre breaking 'Deadpool', who wants to go all 'Batman v Superman' in his own comic crossover with Logan's dog tags and villain beater, tank top. But alas there's probably more chance of seeing yellow spandex (if only) like a 'Wolverine' deleted scene. The People Magazine cut-out mask will have to suffice. But if this is Logan's last call is it the 'Death Of Wolverine'? As this movie adaptation of the 'Old Man Logan' graphic novels-that even breaks all walls with some real life X-Men comics-comes to a conclusion as emotional as it is epic. Either way it's going to be sad as Hugh Jackman was born to play Logan's Wolverine, like Chris Pratt's Star-Lord, Robert Downey Jr's Tony Stark's Iron Man and no one before him. Or even after. No matter how good a choice Tom Hardy (who probably dropped out of Oscar Isaac's Apocalypse role for a slice of the claws) seems. Next to Hugh, Bane has no voice. And the gravelly voiced ageing Logan is still driven behind Jackman's raw, disgruntled passion to do good...even if it looks like he doesn't give a f###. Yeah there's more F-bombs here. What do you exepect when you're chasing a major case of arthritis in the knuckles with kissed whiskey? Or if you've gone from the Academy of Gifted Youngsters to driving school for limos. Chauffering round some entitled millennial brats on stag and hens in the lonesome state of Texas. Rolling up the privacy window divide to spend some alone time with Jack or Jim riding shotgun. From the El Paso desert to another across state and border control lines. And all the singing, all dancing, Jackman of all trades Broadway performer and Academy actor knows how to get to the bare bones of his comic book character, beyond the adamantium for his realest role and best howl at the wolf yet...no sheepish, suit clothing. If this really is the last cut...then it's his deepest yet.
Just look at the blades running through henchmens heads closer than a Mach 3 shave. As Mangold follows his Japanese red tide of the rising sun with real gold in the desert, he fan service gives us Wolverines just deserves for one of the best superhero movies of all-time, directed like an Oscar nominee. Top five with those 'Guardians Of The Galaxy' A-holes, 'The Avengers' in 'Captain America-Civil War', the even better 'Winter Soldier' and of course 'The Dark Knight'...because "Why So Serious" aside, we couldn't leave the dark and decadent D.C. out. No one is left out here though in this academy of gifted actors of Marvel. For this isn't just Hugh's swan song. It's Sir Pat Stew's last one too, as he revealed on an interview last week. As the classicaly trained Patrick Stewart who has made his Professor X character as legendary as his 'Star Trek' Captain Picard makes it so here. Permanently passing the torch and Charles Xavier pattened hereditary baldness onto the next generation of James McAvoy. But here he still energizes a 90 year old X, even if he is diminished by dementia. Stewart is still strong even with cerebral problems that turn his telekinesis into electromagnetic quakes. No wonder the wheelchair and now bed bound mutant resides in a toppled over and dried out water tower for something end of days evoking epic and now Marvel lore iconic. He's not the only British actor in a New Mexico flick that features few Americans over the wall...except one curiously called Donald. After being an accented addition to the Kennedy Administration in the Oscar nominated 'Jackie', Richard E. Grant is as delightfully devilish a villain as he was 'The Scarlet Pimpernel'. But the best bad guy is 'Narcos' and 'Gone Girl' star and Reaver leader, Boyd Holbrook, stealing the show with a cyborg, Terminator like forearm (one of many references to Arnie's strong armed cyborg classic, like Jackman's jacked-up entrance in 'Apocalypse') in this judgement day for mutants being hunted by sentinels of their own kind. It's a complex cast, featuring Ricky Gervais' right hand 'Ladies Man' Stephen Merchant as a western stetson hankerchief and poncho, goggle wearing, yet still instantly recognisable albino mutant who shines like the sun he can't bear to be in. And former 'E.R.' star and novel writer Eriq La Salle, superb as a friendly face and help along the way who makes for one moving dinner table catch up to all the offset, buckshot, fast paced action. Himself horse kicking ass on his ranch with the blunderbuss. Yet it's the introduction of the new Wolverine Dafne Keen that is inspired without the new child star even uttering a single word. The stirring staring eyes of the soul say it all. As this Pringles and blood vessel popping kid shows she's the can't stop, real deal, not to be messed with. Kind of remind you of someone? Lost in the scenic setting woods, the timberwolf and pup tag team is the perfect prequel to her own X23 sequel (that should star Dafne decades later if she's still keen) that could also run for decades in 'Logan's' wake like those new Avenger comics. But now the claws have been passed what of Hugh and all that his true grit ripped, age-defying body of work could still do? 'Logan'...we wish you still had more time. TIM DAVID HARVEY.
See This If You Liked: 'The Wolverine', 'No Country For Old Men', 'Hell Or High Water'.