“You can run for a long time,
Run on for a long time,
Run on for a long,
Sooner or later God’ll cut you down,
Sooner or later God’ll cut down.”
-Johnny Cash, God’s Gonna Cut you Down
We are in the year, 2029, where Mutants have seemingly disappeared, or are at the edge of extinction. Wolverine’s years are beginning to show, wrinkles are more prominent, his hair is faded with a few whites as-well. Plus his healing factor is withering, he can still spit out bullets, but not at the efficient speed he once did, all the years are finally catching up to him. He’s living a life on the down-low, driving a limo, then he goes to a rusted shack where an albino named Caliban (Stephen Merchant) and a very withered Charles Xavier lives. Possibly suffering from Alzheimer’s, its unclear.
This easily has the most mature content of any of the X-Men movies. There is regular alcohol consumption, swearing (of the four letter kind) from everyone and serious, brutal action sequences. The filmmakers clearly decided that if this is their last hurrah, then they’re going out without any soft-punches.
Hugh Jackman has been playing the role of Wolverine since 2000 and has had a small role in just about ever X-Men movie. This is as much his swan song as it is for that character. He has given a lot to the role constantly having to be in-shape and energetic, which gets harder and harder to do the older you get. He is able to add, subtle tenderness as-well as gruffness to this withered character that is just plain tired and needs a rest. The whole movie is about wanting to reach a goal, or looking back and realizing you unfulfilled dreams. This is also the bleakest of nearly any Superhero movie I’ve seen. But still, there is a the noble drive to the character that wont stand to see innocents oppressed.
He is successfully keeping a low profile when a strange woman finds him, saying she needs his help, he quickly refuses but when money is offered he agrees. The jobs is the transportation of a young girl across the border.
The girl is named Laura, who has similar powers to Wolverine, for the fans of the comics they will know her as “X-23” (which she is eventually confirmed as). I wont dare spoil the details of her origin here but it is a very good inclusion of the X-Men lore. Dafne Keen plays this very complex character extremely well. She needs to have the unassuming curiosity of a child, the quiet stillness of a bad-ass as well as threatening savagery. The character is a great highlight to be written in the movie and she brilliantly brings it to life between two elderly, accomplished actors.
The action scenes in this movie work just as good on their buildup as the actual fights themselves. They are like seeing an animal being chased and then cornered until they have to attack with all fangs and claws. Wolverine is slower, both in movement and healing than he has ever been so it would be best to avoid the fights, but he is pushed so the claws must be drawn. At this point in movie history we’ve really seen it all with action movies, two people, many people, with any weapon or and setting, we’ve seen it before. Over the course of watching X-Men movies you will have seen a man with blades in his hand’s fight soldiers, and it’s variations. These scenes work because we feel them, you can see that force delivered and felt by Wolverine you hear the bones break and the cutting of the flesh. It all adds to the do-or-die nature of the whole movie.
This is the movie to end the character and the actors journey with them. Through it you will feel, you’ll find small moments to laugh at, many more to sadden and shock you. But none of the scenes go by without invoking emotion and these aren’t healed over so easily.