Compared to Wolverines last solo outing, The Wolverine is miles better. With James Mangold (Walk the Line, 3:10 to Yuma) at the helm of the latest film about the popular Marvel character, The Wolverine is a much bleaker tale than previous X-Men related films. Hugh Jackman reprises the role he was born to play and if there were any doubters of Jackman’s portrayal of Wolverine before, there won’t be any after viewers see this film. Jackman tones it down a bit this time around but it definitely pays off because this is by far Jackman’s best performance as the character. The Wolverine has a disappointing climax but that doesn’t distract the fact that this is a solid film and a welcoming return to the character.
The Wolverine takes place after the events of the third X-Men film, X-Men: The Last Stand. At the conclusion of that film, Logan (Wolverine) had just murdered the love of his life, Jean Grey, and separated himself from the remaining X-Men. The film starts out looking at an event in Logan’s past. The event involves a really emotional scene where Logan ends up saving a Japanese soldier from the atomic bomb that was dropped in Nagasaki. This scene really set the tone that we were going to get for the remainder of the film. Logan now lives in the woods depressed and alone and has nightmares almost every night. After a while, a woman tells Logan that the soldier he saved back then is dying and wishes to see Logan in Tokyo. This man tells Logan that he can take away his powers and make him mortal. Throughout the next couple of days, Logan starts to slowly loose his healing mutation. At the same time, for reasons I won’t spoil, Yakuza gang members are after Logan. Logan must fight off this threat and learn how to become the Wolverine.
As mentioned, this film is a lot darker than a lot of comic book movies. For once, there is actually blood on Wolverine’s claws after he stabs somebody (thank you!). Although there is a lot of action, there isn’t as much as you’d expect. There is actually a lot of character driven dialog and a ton of well delivered emotion. It’s not an abundance of depression but it’s not over the top action like X-Men Origins: Wolverine. For example, you can see the anger in Logan’s eyes and hear the sadness in his voice instead of just having him scream as loud as he can over and over. Instead of being a superhero movie, this is actually a great character study of the Wolverine. The story is fantastic and it symbolizes a lot of aspects of legends of samurai warriors. Some of the fight scenes in this film are stunning. There was excellent choreography and stunt work involved in many of these fight scenes. There is one particular scene involving a fight on top of a train that is just jaw-dropping. It should also be mentioned one more time that Hugh Jackman does such a great job in this movie. I’ve always enjoyed him as Wolverine but this is the first time that I really felt he captured the true essence of the complicated character.
I did have some problems with The Wolverine. The climax of the film involves a fight scene with a giant robot made out of adamantium. This scene was the epitome of the over the top, unnecessary superhero aspect of most films. It wasn’t needed. This ending certainly didn’t ruin the film and it wasn’t executed poorly, it’s just a small gripe I have. My problem with it was the tone of this film was perfect and the surprising change in direction was just a bit distracting. Also, there was one character named Viper who wasn’t in the film too much but she really reminded me of Poison Ivy from the movie Batman and Robin and that’s never a good thing. She was by far the weakest element of the film.
When you put those two minor problems with the film aside and add up everything that worked, The Wolverine ends up being a great film. I feel that this movie was a much needed boost for the Wolverine character to set him up for next year when all the X-Men return for the film X-Men: Days of Future Past. The Wolverine is the first time I can say that the filmmakers gave us a perfect representation of the character from the comics. They finally got the Wolverine right. I really enjoyed The Wolverine and not only should you see it in the theaters but it is worth a purchase on DVD or Blu-Ray. Oh and by the way, stick around for the credits. There is a little scene about midway through that will definitely get you excited for next summer.