It’s a brand. It sticks.
They gave you gigantic hint in the trailer. Johnny Cash singing what is perhaps the best ever cover version of the hit song ‘Hurt’ by Nine Inch Nails: I hurt myself today/To see if I still feel/I focus on the pain/The only thing that’s real… The lyrics sum up the movie. Unmissable.
In a world where the X-men are gone, Logan is now old. And he drives giggly bachelorettes in a limo. Charles Xavier is no longer the mind reading elder, and is suffering from Alzheimer's. Suddenly a baddie with a gold tooth shows up demanding the whereabouts of the girl… This movie is so extraordinary, you are at once mesmerised and at once repelled by the violence on the screen, you gawp at the immense talent that is present in the girl…
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Seriously. The action, the story, the action, the characters, the locations, the action, the science, the baddies, the action is so jaw-droppingly good, you cannot stay away.
For those who have grown up watching cowboy movies, watching Shane and Jack Palance (of the single arm push ups fame) calling out,’And where do you think you’re doing?’ is an awesome, awesome experience because Charles Xavier is watching the movie with the girl. The movie is so layered, you sense where it is going because everything is hinting at events snowballing on the screen in front of you.
The film opens to aches and pains and Adamantium that isn’t working right, and wounds that leaving marks on the grizzled body of Wolverine. As the song says, ‘You focus on the pain/The only thing that’s real.
Logan is also older and very, crotchety. And you feel the pain as he wears his shirt. You want to know he chooses to suffer in this way. You want to know why Charles is hiding in the awesome upended water tank (Cerebro, anyone?) and why is he nurturing plants. You also cross your fingers that you go home and read the old man Logan comic books where Logan mostly deals with this torture inside his head. You want to know why he is hurting so much.
James Mangold gives us a spectacular canvas from the dusty El Paso, the blue skies across the Mexican border, the road trip the brings them all to Las Vegas and up to Washington to North Dakota. And there is non-stop action and relentless violence. Whether it is violence brought upon them by the Reavers under Stryker’s son Dr. Rice (Richard E Grant in a creepy, very creepy role).
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And then there’s the girl. You know you are a geek when you realise she’s X-23, and you know her powers are…
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Still here? Then let me say this. There is slashing, and decapitating, and there’s stabbing and stabbing and stabbing and then some more stabbiing. Because there’s not one but two. Or should I say three of them?
The body count gets doubled (or tripled?) and you are taken from the pain to the hurt and then to hope and then to an abyss where you can hear Shane tell Joey the snotty kid to go to his mum, because: There’s no living with… a killing. There’s no going back from one…
Alan Ladd was not kidding. ‘Right or wrong, the brand sticks.’ he says. And these cowboy films were about extraordinary adventures, to more than a couple of generations of kids, just as the X-Men movies are to us...