its been some time since i watched X Men Origins: Wolverine, but i sure remember being really really disappointed by the movie considering the trailer was this awesome.
So when i caught wind of a new solo movie starring Alberta’s own, and that it would be set in Japan,, and that it was also directed by James Mangold (whom also directed the fantastic 3:10 to Yuma), and have a giant Samurai robot the hope that i first had with Origins was rekindled for The Wolverine (even though its trailer was a lot less awesome…).
The first and foremost thing that comes to my mind is, that despite the PG-13 rating Logan truly shows us how he got the nickname “The Wolverine”. It’s not like this hasn’t been shown in other movies, X2 and The Last Stand all have moments where Logan puts his claws to good use. But i find that in those other movies he doesn’t act with as much barely controlled rage as he has here. All of the fights in the film don’t feel overly choreographed (apart from some wire stunts), with the train scene interior being equal parts claustrophobic, frantic, and above all vicious; and show Logan to have the reflexes, strength, knowledge, brutal efficiency, and determination to make him the indeed worthy of his code name.
Apart from the violence (or i suppose complimenting it) we have a well written tale of self-healing, with the events of The Last Stand leaving Logan completely lost and ashamed of who and what he is, i can’t help but find it very interesting that the movie really pulls no punches in saying that he is and is meant to be a killer.
Hugh Jackman continues to show that he was meant to bring Logan and Wolverine to the screen. Here he plays Logan as a bitter and tortured soul, and physically he (despite his height) is an absolute dead ringer for what a big screen Wolverine should look like. When you add in his movie star charisma you get a character that i find impossible not to like, and when i genuinely like a character all of the thrills of watching them in danger or otherwise all tag along.
Apart from Jackman, there really isn’t anyone in the cast who doesn’t suit the material with my picks for stand outs being Rila Fukushima as Yukio and Svetlana Khodchenkova as Viper.
I did mention that it has a giant robot samurai right? A trend that i hope to see more of…
Despite Jackman and Tao Okamoto having chemistry together i found the romantic subplot that develops between them to be a bit rushed. To elaborate i can understand that these two people can be in love with one another after the movie is finished, but their actual love scene feels more motivated by plot than by any connection these two people share with one another (not for a lack of trying though admittedly).
Also i find the whole situation of Logan’s healing factor being suppressed to be rather perfunctory, as Logan is shot, stabbed, and beaten up far more than any normal person could be, and still has the ability to kill a couple dozen Yakuza. On top of this is the fact that he can still use his claws without bleeding to death really shows the hollow nature of this plot device and it really reeks of it being shoehorned into the movie as a way to make us “care”.
I do also find that the score that Marco Beltrami provides us here is very much inferior to his previous work (3:10 to Yuma’s haunting mandolins come straight to mind) and brings us right back to the forgettable themes that are present in X-Men and X2.
In the end if The Wolverine only worked on getting the Mariko and Logan aspect right; to heighten the emotion a bit, and ditched the PG-13 rating to make the action just that much more biting and brutal i could easily say this is a great movie.
As it stands though its flaws just make it a really good one, and fans of the movie series and character can most certainly find something here to enjoy.
OUT OF FIVE