X-Men: The Last Stand (2006)

   Director: Brett Ratner With: Hugh Jackman, Halle Berry, Ian McKellen, Patrick Stewart, Famke Janssen, Anna Paquin, Kelsey Grammer, James Marsden, Rebecca Romijn, Shawn Ashmore, Aaron Stanford, Vinnie Jones, Ellen Page, Daniel Cudmore, Ben Foster, & Michael Murphy Release: May 26, 2006 PG-13. 1 hr. 44 min.

Director: Brett Ratner
With: Hugh Jackman, Halle Berry, Ian McKellen, Patrick Stewart, Famke Janssen, Anna Paquin, Kelsey Grammer, James Marsden, Rebecca Romijn, Shawn Ashmore, Aaron Stanford, Vinnie Jones, Ellen Page, Daniel Cudmore, Ben Foster, & Michael Murphy
Release: May 26, 2006
PG-13. 1 hr. 44 min.

 

“Welcome to the brotherhood” is a common phrase that Magneto (Ian McKellen) states throughout Brett Ratner’s (“Rush Hour 1-3” & “Hercules”)  “X-Men: The Last Stand," as he is building a brotherhood of mutants to fight against an army of men with plastic weapons. (why he never states sisterhood is a little weird) As there's a manhunt for Magneto (Ian McKellen) because the humans have discovered a cure for the mutant gene that will not only permanently get rid of that individual's mutation but will allow you to blend back into the normality of society. Who would do such a thing though? 

Well, Rogue (Anna Paquin) steps forward as one of those mutants desiring that cure. As a reference to abortion being a woman’s choice and no one else's, Rogue (Anna Paquin) leaves in the middle of the night after desiring to touch and feel the man she loves. Wolverine/Logan (Hugh Jackman) confronts her to make sure this choice is hers and not because of some boy. Confused by this supportive action Rogue (Anna Paquin) asks "Shouldn't you be mad at me" and Logan (Hugh Jackman) replies "I'm not your father, I'm your friend." 

It's sequences like that one that reign “X-Men: The Last Stand” in from the simplistic blockbuster to the metaphorically depthful story that Stan Lee and Jack Kirby created in the 1960’s. Unlike “X-Men,” the film never becomes too heavy with it's hefty themes, and it remains enthusiastically fun like that of “X-2,” but confuses action for storytelling once again. It’s a mixed bag for sure, but one that handles itself better than both films for most of its runtime.

Thematically, “X-Men: The Last Stand” is a continuance of the previous two films in which mutants are a growing minority, but in this go around there is a governmental department of mutant affairs helmed by Dr. Hank McCoy/Beast (Kelsey Grammer). The government notices them and represents them, but the community is split in half when the cure is announced. One side believes there is no reason for a cure because there is nothing wrong with them and that it's the start of a war, and another sees this as a beacon of opportunity to become normal once again. (Normality is overrated though, right?) It allegorically references the divide of the race wars in the 1960’s in a more direct way than the past two films in which Magneto (Ian McKellen) takes these actions as precursors to a war that has been brewing for years now. But every war of today has nuclear weapons involved, and the war in “X-Men: The Last Stand” is no different. 

While they don’t have a literal nuclear weapon, they have something that is far more dangerous in a phoenix force Jean Grey (Famke Janssen). She is back from the dead or is she? Returning as the monster that Xavier (Patrick Stewart) attempted to hide away, Jean (Famke Janssen) soon becomes a heavily desired woman for either her past impact as a friend or her potentially devastating effect as a weapon. Weapon X, Wolverine/Logan (Hugh Jackman), is someone finding himself at the center of this war, but the return of Jean (Famke Janssen) has blinded him from the real mission. He, like us, is dealing with emotion on multiple fronts with Rogue (Anna Paquin) choosing the cure, the return and uprising of Jean (Famke Janssen), and the war that has begun to take away more than a few of his friends. 

The film begins to take a heavy toll on himself and his fellow X-Men, but never on us. Becoming overloaded and unfocused, “X-Men: The Last Stand” biggest flaw is that it's attempting to be the biggest and grandest finale of the trilogy. Instead of being its own film, “X-Men: The Last Stand” becomes a mediocre ending that never lands it's punches but does jab you a bit with its notions. It’s like that of wrestling around with a younger brother in which each punch he throws is with hesitance, because he fears that if he throws everything he’s got at you that you’ll turn into a raging monster and unleash your anger upon him. “X-Men: The Last Stand” dreaded to throw those heavy punches as well, in fear that us, comic book, fans would unleash hell upon them. 

The action itself is far worse than it's been, there are few sequences with much more to them other than screaming and quips. There never given enough focus by Ratner to become grander or near as epic as this finale should be. There is one final battle sequence that has a multitude of great things in it, one of which is the diplomatic Beast/Dr. Hank McCoy (Kelsey Grammer) jumping all over the battlefield and destroying fellow mutants. He shares excellent comedy with Logan/Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) and even becomes instrumental in winning this war. But, Jean Grey (Famke Janssen) delivers the film best sequence in which she begins to unleash hell upon the world and no one can stop her, or so you would think. 

There are a lot of stories thrown at you (I know), and only a few actually work. It’s hanging on by it's fingertips, and struggles to become much more than an epic shell of a finale. “X-Men: The Last Stand” attempts to learn from its past two films by providing a hefty dose of dense themes and an entertaining addition of action, but doesn’t exactly master the full effect of introducing heavy societal themes that are carried by that action. “X-Men: The Last Stand” had the potential to be the best film of the three, and in some ways it is, but the problem with these first three X-Men movies is the lack of focus given to point these films in the right direction. The X-Men are the kind of comic characters that critics and audiences alike can equally love in a movie with genuine action and socially relevant themes, but they continued to miss the high bar that some of these films would set for comic book movie later on. 

It's a shame we didn't get to see more of those themes get rendered or focused upon in this film, but there are moments of genuine emotion to be found. The losses of fellow X-Men, and the internal battles that Logan/Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) faces are the films best parts. Jackman delivers a solid outing and one that carries the most emotional heft thus far, but Halle Berry, Patrick Stewart, Famke Jannsen, and Ian McKellen are not far behind. A well-balanced array of performances that lend to this film becoming a grandeur worth watching, "X-Men: The Last Stand" is not the ending we had hoped for, but the best one we could have gotten.