Director: James Mangold Starring: Hugh Jackman, Tao Okamoto & Rila Fukushima Synopsis: “Summoned to Japan by an old acquaintance, Wolverine becomes embroiled in a conflict that forces him to confront his own demons.” Runtime: 126 minutes.
“Eternity can be a curse. The losses you have had to suffer… a man can run out of things to care for, lose his purpose.”
Director James Mangold and star Hugh Jackman have teamed together to wipe away any memories you had remaining of the woeful X-Men Origins: Wolverine, and have provided us with a tale of a lone wolf, struggling to get by and one who’s not entirely at peace with himself or the world around him. In a summer full of superheroes and action spectacular’s, does The Wolverine stand up to the challenge laid down before him or crumble under the pressure?
The Wolverine is set after the events of X-Men: The Last Stand. Wolverine has fled to the Canadian mountains and we are led to believe the X-Men are either disbanded or very short on numbers these days. Our hero is suffering from restless nights, dreaming about old flame Jean Grey and struggling with the fact that his life has no purpose, something of a curse for a man who is essentially immortal. That is until Rila Fukushima’s Yukio turns up. Yukio has been tracking Wolverine for some time, on the wishes of her employer who would like to thank Logan for saving his life many years ago. Even though he is reluctant at first, Wolverine agrees and is soon whisked off to Japan to meet the man he saved on the day World War 2 ended.
Once there, Wolverine is clearly out of his element. Taking the character to Japan was a smart move, having someone who is so rough and rugged with no care for routine or procedure, and then having to get used to behaving entirely against type is fun to watch. How can a man live for so long and still be so uncultured?
Hugh Jackman’s passion for the character he has portrayed since 2000 in the original X-Men movie is obvious for everyone to see. He throws himself into the role fully, and it is a credit to him that the fans are as much in love with the character as we ever were. Jackman has worked hard to make this version of Wolverine the best yet, he has bulked up in size and plays the beast with a menace and charm not seen in any other superhero. Director Mangold has infused an element of humour into his movie and it works really well. The humour never gets too silly and it all remains as something you believe the character would do.
One of the, many, criticisms of the Origins movie was that it felt too much like another X-Fest instead of focusing on the character we had all paid to see. The Wolverine then, does not overload us with other mutants who come and go like the days of the week, instead we are introduced to a handful of new mutants who have powers that are a little more interesting than just being really strong or can run really fast.
Rila Fukushima is the strongest secondary character we have in the movie, at one point she even becomes Wolverine’s bodyguard. She is strong yet sensitive and is an excellent side-kick (if you will) to Wolverine. Svetlana Khodchenkova as Viper attempts to chew up as much scenery as possible, but at times comes across as if she is overdoing things slightly. Will Yun Lee as Harada has dubious goals throughout the film, but he is embedded with morality and the fact that he kicks some serious ass with a bow and arrow will always be a plus point for me.
Some people were afraid of The Wolverine being awarded a 12A certificate, as many feel any stand alone Wolverine movie should be for adults only, but as James Mangold has previously stated “this ain’t Bambi.” The fight scenes are well choreographed, and even though they can be a little quick at times, they never end up in Michael Bay levels of shaky cam. There is also word that the DVD release will see a bloodier cut of the movie to satiate the hardcore fans. Sticking with the technical side of things, there are some luscious shots of Japan, from the cityscape, to the mountains, and even though it may not sit well with some, the opening scene of a B-29 bomber entering Japanese airspace is strikingly well shot.
I’ve read a few reviews of The Wolverine now (I tend to read them after I’ve seen a film, never before) and the one thing many of them have in common is their distaste for the ending of the movie, because it is either too silly or doesn’t feature enough destruction. Personally, I thought the end was very fitting and brought things to a logical conclusion, and it was also a nice change of pace to see events actually take a toll on our hero, and will surely affect him in future films.
In Summary: The Wolverine movie we have longed for has finally arrived. Providing us with a superhero character study, looking at life & death, and how having something to live for is the most important thing of all.
P.S. I won’t spoil anything, but there is a mid credits sequence that sets up X-Men: Days Of Future Past brilliantly. It’s not too long into the credits, and is well worth the wait. Bring on 2014.