Running Time: 126 Minutes
Directed by: James Mangold
Starring: Hugh Jackman, Tao Okamoto, Rila Fukushima, and Haruhiko Yamanouchi
Plot: The Wolverine is a sequel chronologically to X-Men 3 about Hugh Jackman’s titular character, Wolverine, journeying to Japan to visit a dying Japanese soldier whom he rescued from an atomic bomb during World War II. The opening scene depicts the rescue in question in a breathtaking visual spectacle (Wolverine: 1 A-Bomb: 0). During the visit the Soldier tells Logan that he can relieve him of his curse of immortality, that he has the technology to transfer Logan’s healing powers to himself, which will give Logan the opportunity to live a normal life, find love, grow old, and die the peaceful, fulfilling death for which he longs. Logan declines, the old man dies, and then Logan spends the next hour forty stabbing his way through ninjas, yakuza, and snake ladies. Eventually he slices his way (metaphorically) into the heart of the old soldier’s granddaughter, whom every criminal contingency in Japan has decided to hunt down, because being an attractive Japanese woman is apparently dangerous as all hell.
Review: When I first saw this movie in theaters I was expecting it to be another installment of a series that, in my personal opinion, had gone to shit. After the abominations that were X3, X-Men Origins: Wolverine, and X-Men: First Class I was expecting very little from this film. That being said, I was pleasantly surprised.
Leading with the negative, this movie is rated PG-13, which isn’t ideal for a movie starring one of the most cold-blooded killers in comicdom. The biggest thing as a viewer that pulled me out of this movie is the lack of gore and blood when the protagonist’s main physical trait is that he has goddam knife-fingers. His claws, which can cut through most anything, are primarily used for flinging nameless gang-members across the screen, where we, the audience, are to assume that they have been impaled by a Mortal Kombatesque spike-pit. The movie, while not without its conflict, is a surprisingly light-hearted fare (whether that’s fitting for the franchise is questionable) The movie is just north of two hours, and while it never really drags, I think a movie about Hugh Jackman beating up Japan could probably get the job done in a crisp ninety. Not to mention tension is hard to build in an action movie when the character’s main talent isn’t being an unkillable rage-weapon.
For the good, Wolverine is kicking ass and taking…well, more asses to kick, because who cares about the names of cannon-fodder? Hugh Jackman rocks the role, as he always has. Few of the supporting cast members are recognizable (at least by me), which I think is beneficial. The acting is solid, at least for this kind of feature (I don’t think anyone was expecting to get an Oscar nod when they signed on to X-Men 6). In my opinion the movie itself really looks incredible, the fight scenes are exciting, and unlike its predecessors (not to mention its derivatives) it never suffers from shoehorning in as many X-Men characters as possible. The characters from the comic canon it does have are few, relevant to the story, and portrayed with a minimum of “artistic liberty” or whatever term you wish to ascribe it.
Overall, I would say the worst part of this movie is a completely unnecessary scene in which Logan is forcibly given a bath by three elderly Japanese women for comedic effect. It’s ridiculous and out of character. Maybe if they had been younger and hotter… I just don’t know. The best part of the movie is Wolverine stabbing any number of Yakuza gang-members. This is a movie that I wanted to see fail. That probably makes me sound like a dick, but there it is. That being said, I would recommend this movie to most people, shocking though that may be. I do, however, suspect that a quick search for a metascore would prove that this movie isn’t as universally appealing as I think it should be, but what do I know; I’m just a humble blogger.