Dir: James Mangold (Walk the Line, 3:10 to Yuma)
Cast: Hugh Jackman, Tao Okamoto, Rila Fukushima, Hiroyuki Sanada, Hal Yamanouchi, Svetlana Khodchenkova, Will Yun Lee and Famke Janssen
Synopsis: Summoned to Japan by an old acquaintance, Wolverine becomes embroiled in a conflict that forces him to confront his own demons.
*Review Note: This is a non-spoiler review as always. But, I do have to say this…Stay for the credits scene, I won’t say what it’s about but it is a great scene.”
While some people say this is better than Origins: Wolverine, it really isn’t saying much since Origins, although having some moments wasn’t a good movie. But, it looks like the commercials are right. This is the Wolverine movie we’ve wanted, for the most part.
Jackman once again goes full in, embracing the character that fans fell in love with in the pages of the X-Men comics or the movies if that was your first encounter with him. But, you also have to give credit to James Mangold and his screenwriters smartly avoid the clutter of mutants, like Origins, and just make the movie about Logan. The movie is inspired by the famous Japan story-arc in the comics but is also a continuation of the X-Men film series serving as a some-what sequel to The Last Stand but is a separate adventure as well.
When we first meet him here, Logan is living like a hermit in the Canadian wild. He is also still mourning the loss of Jean Grey (Janssen) that comes to him at times in a dream-like environment asking the question that Wolverine deals with “Why keep going?” After an encounter in a bar he meets the mysterious Yukio (Fukushima) who is there to bring Logan to Japan to say good-bye to Yashida (Yamanouchi) a man he saved during World War II. Reluctantly he accepts and soon discovers that the man wants to offer Logan an end to his immortality in return for saving his life that day. Of course Logan finds out nothing is what it really seems.
Logan eventually finds out that his healing factor is affected after being poisoned by mutant Viper (Khodchenkova) when he starts to protect Yashida’s granddaughter Mariko (Okamoto). After that we get introduced to the other characters in Mariko’s father and Yashida’s son Shingen (Sanada) and Harada (Yun Lee) who is under orders to also protect Mariko.
Like I stated before the movie is inspired from the classic Chris Claremont/Frank Miller Japan storyline from the comics. However, it does take some liberties which are welcome. Maiko isn’t necessarily a damsel-in-distress and Yukio has a bit more meat to her character. It should be noted that this is the first film for both actress’ and they did a good job with such big characters. Khodchenkova’s Viper is maybe a bit too cartoony when it comes to being a villain but considering she isn’t the main villain it’s a bit okay.
However, despite all this the movie doesn’t really become a “comic-book” movie until the third act. Not saying it’s a bad thing either. The movie sets up Logan as a haunted character dealing with this “curse” and what the effects are to that and what happens when it goes away but it also tries to play Logan as a legend in some sense. This is probably makes the movie better and puts it ahead of Origins (although again not saying much). The movie isn’t worried about connecting it back to the X-Men movies (with the expectation of Jean) or about the fate of the world, it’s only concern is Logan and his story which is fantastic to watch.
The action is also stepped up and although they are spaced apart every sequence has a something on the line. People are talking about the bullet train sequence (I had my doubts about it in the beginning) which is pretty cool and maybe to some a bit cartoonish but it still works. Also for those wanting blood on the claws you can finally put that aside.
All in all, The Wolverine has finally given us a movie where we see the Wolverine that we all love. Jackman has truly made the character his own in every way and I feel for the person who has to take over after Jackman leaves. Filled with action, humor, and a love story The Wolverine is what I hope for in future installments.
4.5 out of 5