Beginning with a dishevelled, grizzled and frankly knackered-looking Hugh Jackman being rudely woken from a drunken stupor in the back of a Limo by a bunch of Mexican car-jackers, the titular hero’s swan-song is a very different Beast (pun intended) to any other Marvel film you’ve ever watched. You’ll realise this within the first three minutes as legs are lopped off, craniums are skewered and torso’s are shredded with brutal efficiency. Yes, this is a comic book film, much in the same way that you might accidentally think Robocop was a children’s film until it culminated in a man being bathed in toxic waste before an interface with his boss’s speeding car bonnet has him promptly exploding like a watermelon in a shooting gallery. This is one seriously violent film (astonishingly only a 15 too). Not to mention sad, sombre and at times, actually quite traumatising.
Without going into the plot – natch – it is essentially a mis-matched buddy road-trip film, with Wolverine more surly, belligerent and foul-mouthed than ever before and Jackman of course carries the film with world-weary aplomb. Patrick Stewart’s Professor X is surprisingly funny, but also adds tragic gravitas as the blithering, prattling, croaky-voiced Nonagenarian who is struggling to control his waning faculties (especially during one jaw-dropping – not to mention seriously ear-splitting – slo-mo action sequence) and the pair bicker and squabble to much humourous effect like an old married couple the whole way .
There are a few surprises along the way but this is essentially a mis-matched trio (yes, trio…I won’t say why) road film with a simply enormous body-count. All the supporting cast are great (Boyd ‘Steve from NARCOS’ Holbrook, Eric La Salle, even Stephen Merchant who is equally haunting and hilarious as English mutant albino Caliban). The film also, very bravely, makes scathing criticisms of the X-Men comics in an ingeniously devised story arc.
Everything about the film is just brilliantly realised: the script, the music, the acting, the plot, the action sequences. This is a fantastic piece of (non) comic book action cinema with sterling and assured direction from James Mangold. Just be ready for some blistering, brutal and seriously gruesome violence and an absolutely inspired closing shot. A fitting send-off well worth waiting for.