Claws out

Wolverine and his young sidekick tear it up in Hugh Jackman’s swan song

Starring Hugh Jackman, Patrick Stewart and Dafne Keen. Directed by James Mangold. Cinemark 14, Feather River Cinemas and Paradise Cinema 7. Rated R.
Rated 5.0

And now for something completely different …

Hugh Jackman says goodbye to Wolverine with Logan, a total shocker of a superhero movie that lays waste to the X-Men and various spin-off films that came before it. Director James Mangold—who piloted the decent 2013 standalone, The Wolverine—revamps the character’s mythos and pulls along Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart) for a gritty, bloody, awesome ride.

It’s the future, and the X-Men are gone. A mutant hasn’t been born in a quarter of a century, and Logan isn’t looking too hot. He’s driving a limo to make ends meet, coughing up blood, and basically not aging well. He’s doing better than Xavier (the mutant formally known as Professor X), who is prone to seizures and suffering from some sort of degenerative disease in his powerful brain. Logan has to keep him in a big empty tank to shield the world from his spells, which can cause major physical distress to everyone and everything in the vicinity, including Logan. He’s assisted in caring for Xavier by Caliban (comedian Stephen Merchant), an albino mutant with mutant-tracking powers.

In short, the days of X-Men glory are way, way over, with Logan and Xavier having a shit time in their forced retirement. But just when it seems as if the former superheros will waste away in their miserable existence, along comes 11-year-old Laura (a dynamite Dafne Keen). She’s a genetically engineered and created mutant equipped with the same retractable claws, healing powers and viciously bad temper as Logan. When her life becomes endangered, Logan throws her and Xavier in the back of his vehicle, and they are off on one wild, dark road trip.

To say this movie is violent would be an understatement. On the heels of Deadpool and its R-rated success, Mangold and company have let the flesh and profanity rip with this one. The 3:10 to Yuma director brings some of his western chops to the proceedings (and even makes direct references to the 1953 classic Shane). People die hard in this one. Nobody is sporting any fancy uniforms.

The action scenes are flawless, top-notch enterprises, a marvel of special effects and awards-worthy editing, with one in particular being among the best scenes I have ever seen in an action film. The sequence involves Xavier having an especially bad seizure. That’s all I’m going to give away. You’ll know it when you see it.

Jackman has always been a terrific Wolverine. He belongs in the movie-superhero hall of fame with the likes of Reeve’s Superman, Keaton/Bale’s Batmans and Downey Jr.’s Iron Man. He’s all in for this picture, and he’s finally allowed to take Logan/Wolverine to his most violent, animalistic extremes. There’s no holding back with his work here; it’s a fitting conclusion to his run with the character.

There’s a long way to go in the film year, but Stewart should already be getting some Oscar buzz for his role. Stewart explores the sad, broken side of Xavier, and it’s absolutely heartbreaking. He honestly has some of the greater moments of his career in this film, and the same can most certainly be said for Jackman.

All elements of this movie are spectacular, and I’ll just make the call right now: Logan is one of the best comic book films ever made. And if you were to call it the all-time best, you probably wouldn’t be met with much opposition. It’s an example of a great idea delivered with stupendous results.