“The Wolverine” brings the title character into a situation that strips him down and forces him to face his mortality. Hugh Jackman is able to step into this role for the sixth time and provide a side of Wolverine we have never seen before. Unfortunately for him, the rest of the movie doesn’t exactly leave much to be desired.
The film opens up during World War II with Wolvie hiding out in a well as Nagasaki is about to be bombed. As the city is going up in flames, he’s able to save the life of a Japanese soldier to which he then wakes up. Present day Logan is seen living in the wilderness in a cave with a portable radio and a lot of alcohol while looking like a caveman. Taking place after the events of “X-Men: The Last Stand,” Logan has isolated himself from the world after killing the woman he loved, Jean Grey (Famke Janssen, who does appear to him as a vision in his dreams).
Wolverine is brought out of his cave by Yukio (Rila Fukushima), who has been looking for Wolvie for a year. The soldier that Wolvie saved all those years ago is on his deathbed and wants to say goodbye to Logan. Logan gets on a plane, heads to Japan, gets shaven and bathed (which does make for some good laughs), and meets with Yashida (Hal Yamanouchi). Yashida tells Logan that he knows Logan has suffered all these years with being unable to age and die and that he wants to take the suffering away, allow Logan an honorable death.
Yashida, who is not ready to die, makes an offer to Logan to take his healing powers as he believes they can be passed on to another person. Logan declines the offer, but of course things don’t stop there. He winds up getting stuck in family politics as he tries to keep Yashida’s granddaughter Mariko (Tao Okamoto) safe from the Yakuza, while also dealing with Yashida’s slightly insane doctor Viper (Svetlana Khodchenkova).
When compared to previous X-Men films, “The Wolverine” would rank around the middle: X2, First Class, X-Men/The Wolverine, X-Men: The Last Stand, and X-Men Origins: Wolverine (I think everyone has decided to forget this was made). What was loved about the film is that Jackman delivers his best performance as Wolverine to date and the rest of the cast members really bring their characters to life; Viper especially is performed extremely well by Khodchenkova. Yet the film is unable to keep up with all of the villainous characters that it tries to present, which leads to a bit of a stumble in the third act of the film. As good as Khodchenkova was as Viper, the character unfortunately wasn’t written with enough substance.
Director James Mangold is able to leave his personal touch on the film, but I’m not completely sure if that’s a good thing. Mangold gives himself a line to balance on: show this characters mortality, while still presenting an entertaining superhero flick. “The Wolverine” just isn’t able to combine the two elements into a fully entertaining film.
While, “The Wolverine” isn’t the best film in the X-Men franchise, it’s worth a watch for those devoted to the material. Also, stay for the credits… there’s a very special scene just waiting for you!
“The Wolverine” is now playing!