Wolverine faces his ultimate nemesis - and tests of his physical, emotional, and mortal limits - in a life-changing voyage to modern-day Japan.
As Solid as Adamantium Claws
It has been some time since the events of X-Men: The Last Stand. Logan (Hugh Jackman), the honorable yet brutal warrior of the mutant super team, has grown disenchanted with life and is living in the wilderness of Canada. Haunted by memories of his lost love Jean Grey (Famke Janssen), the loner is a victim of his own immortality. He has all the time in the world, but nothing left to live for.
That is until Yukio (Rila Fukushima), a messenger from a man he once saved many years before named Yashida (Haruhiko Yamanouchi) , tracks him down with a luring proposition. Yashida , now a technology mogul, is nearing the end of his life. He claims that before he passes, he wishes to grant Logan the gift of mortality in exchange for saving his life so many years ago.
Of course, everything is not as it seems. And it is not long before Logan is caught up in family politics involving Yashida’s heirs: fiery son Shingen (Hiroyuki Sanada) and captivating granddaughter Mariko (Tao Okamato). After Yakuza goons make an attempt to kidnap Mariko, Logan rescues her and finds new purpose in keeping her protected. As they camp out in hiding, the two fall for each other and he is able to find relief in confessing his past to her. But peace does not last for long as Mariko is eventually snatched away from him, leading the Wolverine to give chase and track her down by any means necessary.
The thing that makes The Wolverine work on so many levels is its maturity. Christopher Nolan showed with his Batman trilogy that superhero movies could be loyal to the sometimes serious tone of comics but still be accessible to the masses. Movies based on Marvel characters for the most part have not followed suit. While entertaining, the Marvel movies (the Punishers being the exception) have been light hearted affairs that focus more on action and laughs than story or character development. Logan, however, is a serious character with grown up problems who deserves a script to reflect that. Director James Mangold and Jackman have a done a solid job in bringing that angst to the screen. The Frank Miller and Chris Claremont penned story arc that Mangold and his crew of writers have borrowed from for this movie is considered to be one of the best in Wolverine canon. In fact, the first two-thirds of The Wolverine are so good at developing the mutant’s character, that viewers do not even notice the lack of constant action scenes that are so prevalent in superhero films today. It is a testament to Jackman’s now effortless portrayal of the troubled protagonist and also to Mangold’s ability to match the atmosphere of the dark content of early Wolverine comics.
This is not to say that The Wolverine lacks explosiveness. There is just enough fighting and chases throughout those aforementioned first two-thirds, and a little too much of it in the final act. It is in the final act where Mangold slips a little, digressing back into a standard Marvel piece heavy on smoke and mirrors instead of genuine substance. But Marvel’s smoke and mirrors still outdazzle most of its competition on any given movie night and audiences will not be let down here.