This is the sixth time that Hugh Jackman has donned the claws, over the course of nearly 15 years. Are there still stories about Wolverine that resonate with audiences? When I heard they were traveling to Japan for this tale, I had high hopes because this story was a big part of Wolverine’s mythology that we’ve yet to see on screen.
Following the events of X-Men: The Last Stand, Wolverine has escaped to the Canadian rockies and wants nothing to do with the civilized world. He killed the woman he loved (Jean Grey, played by Famke Janssen) and can’t cope with that. However, a Japanese spy named Yukio (Rila Fukushima) finds him and brings him to Japan, to say goodbye to an old man that Wolverine had saved, many years ago. However, things get complicated as the old man tells Wolverine that he can remove his healing ability, and put an end to this neverending torture that he’s going through. Along the way, Wolverine becomes close with this dying man’s granddaughter Mariko (Tao Okamoto).
This is the Wolverine movie that I’ve been waiting for since I saw the first trailer for X-Men. This is the savage barbarian that we saw glimpses of during X2. Finally Wolverine tears and shreds his way through his enemies, the way he was intended to. Director James Mangold pulls off exactly the right tone, mixing some amazing battle scenes with the vicious struggles on the inside that Wolverine is facing.
This is a character-driven piece. While there are some really cool fight scenes, the best moments are with Wolverine as he tries to cope with the death of Jean Grey and his debate over whether or not to live forever. And is there anything left to live for. Jackman is perfect here, still proving that he was the absolute best pick for Wolverine, almost 15 years ago when Bryan Singer gave him a shot.
The visuals are much more polished than in Wolverine: Origins. They only become a bit cartoony during the final fight scene, just because the intimate and visceral feeling of the movie is abandoned for a traditional boss battle, for lack of a better metaphor.
And after the credits, is one of the best post-credit scenes I’ve ever seen and one that will definitely leave you wanting more.
What doesn’t work?
I was a little underwhelmed by the choice of Viper as a main villain, though she pulls it off better than the trailers would lead you to believe. And the Silver Samurai is relegated to a much smaller role than you would expect, so I felt a little cheated in that regard.
X-Men fans rejoice! The Wolverine is a fun and visceral character study of one of the most interesting heroes of our time, at one of the darkest moments of his life. The effects are perfect, paired with Jackman’s spot-on portrayal of Logan. The pacing is a little slow, but it allows for some deep looks into Wolverine’s mind as he battles enemies both physically and mentally. Well worth seeing in theaters and definitely stay for the post-credits tease.