Director James Mangold brings another Wolverine offshoot of Bryan Singer’s X-Men franchise. Hugh Jackman reprises his signature role in a Marvel picture that is very different in tone and story from any before. Set 10 years hence with the world’s dwindling population of mutants in a parlous state – ageing Professor X now under the clawed care of Logan. Mutton-chops have given way to a full-on Brian-Blessed-beard for Logan, whilst Xavier has his grey hair growing back and senility settling in.
Marvel but not Comic
If this gives a slightly sad picture of Mangold’s story then I am being too kind. It is entirely watchable but also deeply miserable with a narrative that neatly predicts the reported farewell from both lead actors. This is a dark script indeed from Mangold, revelling too much in its differences from previous Marvel fare. The opening swear-fest is so incongruous that it jars and, whilst the film kept my attention, there was no feel-good from the denouement. A serious film with subtle messages that were blasted away by the obscene bloodthirstiness of it all. Pity.
Jackman and Stewart are marvellous, natch. Stephen Merchant – sounding like he just walked on set from Great Knollys Street (i.e. vowels by Reading, Berkshire) – is manic and moving as Caliban. Dafne Keen is fine as a young Wolverine-ette with some charm towards the finale but whose character causes Kick-Ass-style discomfort as a disconcertingly violent youngster; Richard E. Grant makes a workable entrance as the ubiquitous Brit-nasty. Good stuff from his sidekick in Boyd Holbrook, fresh from Netflix’ Narcos.
Worth a look for fans but don’t listen to the critical hype – an intriguing story but the script is no masterpiece. It is just far too blood-soaked and leans heavily on the cast.