Considering the last time we saw Hugh Jackman flash those retractable claws in 2009’s X-Men Origins: Wolverine, (a major disappointment), The Wolverine is pretty darn good.
The Wolverine picks up not long after 2006’s X-Men: The Last Stand, where Logan/Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) was forced to kill Jean Grey (Famke Janssen) after she turned into her alternate personality known as the Phoenix. Logan was distraught and left Charles Xavier’s mutant school.
The film ambitiously opens with the atomic bombing of Nagasaki. In the heat of the moment, Logan saves a Japanese soldier, who later becomes the richest businessman in Japan. Yashida (Hal Yamanouchi) is now on his deathbed and summons Logan to Tokyo so he can say good-bye to the man who saved his life. Yashida’s fiery assistant, Yukio (Rila Fukushima) finds Logan and convinces him to come to Tokyo.
Once in Tokyo, the immortal and ageless Wolverine finds himself right in the middle of the fight for Yashida’s business empire. There he meets Yashida’s son (Hiroyuki Sanada), granddaughter (Tao Okamoto) and a smoldering villainess (Svetlana Khodchenkova) with great powers that majorly hurt our hero.
Jackman was born to play the role of Wolverine; we all know that. But this film is different for the actor. Wolverine has suffered through numerous battles and the heartache of killing the only woman he loved, and it shows through his emotionally internal performance. Jackman is still a badass, but he adds an emotional core, which ends up giving Wolverine more humanity this time around.
Director James Mangold (Walk the Line) did not shoot the film in 3D, and with the quick-paced action scenes that are likely to blur on the big screen–it’s best to see the film in regular 2D. The action scenes are exquisite, especially the one where Wolverine battles some bad guys on top of a 300 mph train. And with this being a film set in Japan, there’s a lot of martial arts and samurai swords flying all over the place.
In its third act, the screenplay succumbs to over-the-top comic book style action and runs about 15 minutes too long, diminishing the original story. It looks like we are watching Transformers or even this summer’s Pacific Rim all over again.
Jackman is excellent as ever, the action sequences are fun and The Wolverine makes us anxiously await the next X-Men movie.
Make sure to stay after the credits for a particularly interesting scene leading into 2014’s X-Men: Days of Future Past. I promise, it’s worth it.