The Wolverine Review
Director : James Mangold
Cast Headliner: Hugh Jackman
Original Release Date: July 26th, 2013
Seen: Early August 2013
Within the X-Men franchise, there is no one who can compete with Wolverine played by Hugh Jackman. He’s a comic book fan and audience favorite, and one of the main centers of focus in the series. It makes since that he would get a spinoff of his own, and in 2009 there was in “X-Men: Origins Wolverine”. That was a controversial film, between its mediocrity and plot flaws and ruining the adaptation of some comic characters. Luckily, this film “The Wolverine”, is a vast improvement and one of the best of the series.
This actually (and for the best) takes places after the third X-men film, which makes it all new material for the timeline. Wolverine aka Logan is back to his old wandering ways in Canada, and is still stricken with grief and haunted by visions of his former lover Jean Grey/Phoenix (Famke Janssen back in a surprising amount of new material). It is definitely nice to see these two old cast members again, and interesting to see how it has this affects his psyche. He is soon found by a mysterious Japanese warrior and mutant named Yukio( Rila Fukushima). She is employed by a Mr.Yashida(Hiroyuki Sanada) , who wants to thank Wolverine ,in person in Tokyo, for saving his life during the atomic bombing of Nagasaki in World War 2. Logan begrudgingly follows, and he is greeted with a twisted world of danger.
The greatest aspect of this film is that it is set in Japan. Previous installments have sort of blended together, with similar locales and characters. Aside from Wolverine, everyone else in the film is a new character. An effort is really made to create an authentic atmosphere, with Asian cast members and beautiful cinematography.
The careful directing hand of James Mangold is evident here, with some great angles and intense camera in fight scenes. A problem which plagued “Origins” was bad quality CGI and effects compared to films in its era, but here everything is top notch. From the atomic bomb drop in Nagasaki to the Silver Samurai mech suit in the end, everything is very believable. Never before has Wolverine’s claws shone with so much sheen.
Besides the many great and unique fight scenes (Logan vs Yakuza! Logan vs Ninjas!), there’s heart at this story. Wolverine has to deal with where his life is going, and what it means to be immortal. Some astonishingly good dialogue is here, and also some decent romance with Mariko Yashida(Tao Okamoto) of whom the antagonists are targeting. Yukio deserves special mention as her role of wisecracking sidekick. So far this all may make it seem like a Yakuza or martial arts film, but it doesn’t forget that it’s a part of the X-Men franchise.
Wolverine is awesome and nearly unstoppable in his claw slashing and healing abilities, but he has a match in Viper played Sveltana Khodchenkova. This villain is not only the other white cast member but also has formidable combat abilities. I would say that besides the fights against the Yakuza, the final sequence involving her, Logan, the “Silver Samurai”, and others is cool and classic X-Men in vibe.
The Wolverine is both an excellent classic X-Men movie, and also a successful experiment. Looked at as a X-Men movie, it’s a look at what happens with Logan’s (and in a slight way, Jean’s) life after the finale that was X3. Yet also, it deals barely with mutants and super powers and instead is a tale of Japanese crime drama. The classic sequel film which spices things up by making things nuanced. This makes it a great watch, and a sign of good things to come. 8.15 out of 10