Director: James Mangold
Cast: Hugh Jackman, Tao Okamoto, Rila Fukushima, Hiroyuki Sanada, Svetlana Khodchenkova, Will Yun Lee, Haruhika Yamanouchi, Brian Tee, Famke Janssen
Screenplay: Mark Bomback, Scott Frank
126 mins. Rated PG-13 for sequences of intense sci-fi action and violence, some sexuality and language.
Last year, we saw the release of The Wolverine which, I noticed after my first viewing, was exactly what I wanted from the origins film released back in 2009. In The Wolverine, we see a damaged Logan (Hugh Jackman, in his seventh but not last portrayal of the clawed antihero), haunted by his having to kill the woman he loves, Jean Grey (Famke Janssen). He is asked to come to Japan to seek out a dying man who he saved back in WWII. Logan is a torn man with nowhere, and his struggle in this film is both an internal and external one. Jackman brings this struggle out beautifully, as a man who cannot die wishes to be at peace. As Wolverine begins to question the motives of all the new faces around him, he gets drawn into possible conspiracies and, if I may say, some of the best action sequences of the entire X-Men franchise.
This is James Mangold’s first foray into superhero territory, and he brings a film that feels realer than most of its kind (even if that realism falls apart near the end of the film). One interesting direction Mangold chose to take was to set the film after X-Men: The Last Stand, a decision I stand behind as it allows the film to truly spread its wings (or claws, for that matter). We see Wolverine in a much more personal piece than previous installments. Jackman knows this character and every portrayal gets him better and better.
Now the supporting players, with the exception of Famke Janssen, are all relatively underwhelmed, perhaps as we know very little about them at film’s start, whereas we have canon for Grey and Logan’s relationship to build on.
The special effects and sets in the film are astounding, definitely worthy of praise and a big step up from the last solo Wolverine pick. Japan of the near-future is gorgeous, with popping colors and an array of visual textures to play with. The fight sequences are simple in essence and grand in execution. Overall, the film is very watchable.
Now, it does run on about 20 minutes longer than it should, and the ending tacked on both set up the next installment, 2014’s X-Men: Days of Future Past, as well as cause our heads to scratch (but more on that some other time). I didn’t see the point of the mid-credits end scene. Didn’t give us much. The realism of the film falls apart, as I said before, near the end of the film, but overall this is an emotional superhero film, exactly what we were missing in Origins, and reminiscent of 2013’s Iron Man 3.
What did you think of The Wolverine? Have you seen it? Did it engage you? Vote and comment!
-Kyle A. Goethe
For my review of X-Men Origins: Wolverine, click here.
For my review of X-Men: First Class, click here.