The Wolverine is not a perfect film. Yet, as a showcase for everyone’s favorite mutant, it delivers a solid narrative–a fantastic, new setting–some creative actions sequences–memorable sidekicks and baddies–and mostly, a perfect performance by Hugh Jackman. He is Wolverine. Period. And if you like this character, at all, you will enjoy this outing–considerably better than the last time around, that is for sure.
The success of this character (& the film) lands squarely on Mr. Jackman’s broad, muscular shoulders and he bears it with grace and attitude. Hard to believe it was 13 years ago that we were first introduced to his iconic turn as Wolverine. Despite whatever may be going on around him (especially with the sad misstep that was Origins: Wolverine)–Jackman never fails to entertain and delight us with his flawless portrayal. This time around we get Logan at a crossroads in his existence and again, Jackman draws us in and keeps us invested. I also loved that he was extra grumpy and irritable, which lead to some genuinely funny moments.
Yes. This film falls into the same trap as most summer films do, especially Comic Book movies–which is it’s basically the hero’s journey and there are only so many times you can see the structure and not predict the beats and themes that run throughout. So, it is the execution that distinguishes it and James Mangold does an excellent job keeping our interest here. Instead of going “big”, Mangold chooses to take the intimate approach. This is a quieter, more contemplative story that focuses on Logan’s inner struggle with his “gifts” and immortality and I loved it. Trust me, there is plenty of “big” action–but, it is not overwhelming or underwhelming–it is just the right amount.
The script by Mark Bomback and Scott Frank does suffer a little from clichés, plot holes and has some “groaners” sprinkled around yet, I appreciated the arch and journey that Logan takes on this time. And the setting in Japan is brilliant. The theme of honor works well and the connection to Wolverine being a solider (Ronin) lost without purpose leads to great inner conflict and revelations. Japan is a character in this story–from the tragedy of atomic fallout to the technology that runs the city–the setting plays a role in different forms that challenge our hero.
I have to notice that this time around there was a distinct female presence. From sidekick–lovers and villain–we are surrounded by strong, powerful women. I like it. 😀 The badass sidekick is beautifully played by newcomer Rila Fukushima. Her Yukio is layered and complex and a great foil for Logan. In the lovers domain they are both old and new. Famke Janssen returns as Jean Grey and is as lovely as ever (although I was never a fan of their romance because she belonged to Cyclops! ;)) and the gorgeous Tao Okamoto is the new love interest Mariko, who awakens feelings long since believed dead for our Wolverine.
In the villain department, Svetlana Khodchenkova kills it as Viper. I loved the character design and her ice-cold delivery was dead on. It was also cool to see Will Yun Lee as Harada, the ninja. Been a fan of his for a while and he does a fine job here. Add badass Hiroyuki Sanada as Shingen and Hal Yamanouchi as Yashida and you have an awesome supporting cast.
The action is fun and well choreographed. I am a sucker for sword play and there are some cool sequences. At times the hand-held jarring effect was a bit much–but unfortunately that is a common trait today. I truly enjoyed the mixture of old and new–from ninjas to high-speed bullet trains–there were a lot of clever approaches. Well done.
Bottom line? I can not say The Wolverine is a perfect film–but, I can say it is a fun and enjoyable summer movie that delivers on its promise–more so than other films this year. If you love Logan as a character and appreciate Hugh Jackman’s incarnation of Wolverine, I believe you will have a good time. Jackman has playing Wolverine down to a science and it’s an awesome thing to behold.
Snikt! Snikt! Slash!!
Pssst! Stay for a bit during the credits–the teaser is AWESOME!! So exciting!