I’ve never fallen in love with any entree in the X-Men franchise. All have been around the same level – a good time. X-men: The Last Stand is hated on quite often. I honestly don’t see why. It simply takes a different path than the first two. Granted, that doesn’t raise it to new heights, but defiantly isn’t worse. Even though I’m giving The Wolverine what’s overall been given to the series for the most part, it’s my favorite X-Men film. I wasn’t looking forward to this. Mainly because of X-Men: Origins Wolverine. Wasn’t awful or anything, but was a chance for Wolverine to branch out; was completely forgettable. Something felt different about the movie right off the bat. Instead of having a superhero vibe, it had a dark mood, almost like a depressing drama. After the initial hook, it did hit some bumps in the road, nothing to take me out of the ride, though.
Logan a.k.a. Wolverine (Hugh Jackman), is living isolated somewhere in the wilderness. He’s just focused on being alone and drinking to battle his demons. Nightmares plague him daily – often times it’s about the love of his life, Jean Grey (Famke Janssen). Logan has had enough of immortality, wants out of superhuman existence. Yukio (Rila Fukushima), a mutant with the ability to foresee people’s deaths, finds him for her employer. Logan has been invited to Tokyo at the request of a wealthy and dying businessman, Yashida (Hal Yamanouchi). Back during World War II, Logan saved Yashida’s life shielding him from an atomic blast. He offers to make Logan mortal again and transfer his healing abilities into his own body.
It was clear the screenwriters, Mark Bomback and ScottFrank (with an original draft by Christopher McQuarrie), really put in effort. Most of the X-Men movies have relied on action, setups, and the mutants being there more than actually trying to craft a story while putting in depth. Those problems are amended. That’s not to say it’s without faults, however. Most of the time there are too many mutants to keep track of. There were only three other mutants in this. It was a nice change to be able to grasp and focus on a few. I also enjoy how it’s presented as a standalone feature; almost like a side adventure with Wolverine. Unlike countless others in this genre, the story is allowed to breathe, and is compelling going in different directions that aren’t overly expected. The plot gets more generic as things progress, and the climax is nothing special. Viper was another fault. She was out of place and did not fit the tone. Those two elements brought the story down.
The Character of Wolverine was delved into more than he ever has. I love his haunted past and how he approaches his life in a cured manner, desperately trying to find a purpose. The film utilizes that aspect. Immortality can be a blessing as easily as a curse. Most people fantasize about living forever at some point in their lives, and at first thought, sounds pretty good. On the other hand, you would watch your loved ones along with everybody you know inevitably die. Also, how much is life worth without a real purpose? When Logan is given the option to remove his mutant abilities, the second act plays on him growing close to people again. Had me hooked.
Hugh Jackman began his American acting career by starring as Wolverine in Bryan Singer’s X-men back in 2000. He’s stayed loyal to the franchise. Jackman has stepped into the role six times now – seven if you include next year’s X-Men: Days of Future Past. It’s clear the man loves playing the character. Despite proving himself with great performances in different projects, he seems to always come back. That’s rare. Most of the time you’re lucky if a big name stays for two or three movies. Look at someone like Robert Downey Jr. Obviously, he’s gotten more than a bit tired playing Iron man. Thirteen years have passed since Jackman first took the role, and is still going. Never has a rumor surfaced implying the slightest indication he is getting worn out. I have to emphasize how much depth Jackman brings, truly shines here.
Jackman shines so bright that he overshadows the entire cast. Rila Fukushima is the sole other cast member that stands out. Instead of your typical Japanese girl character, Yuki was given enough care to where I wanted to see more. Surprisingly, Fukushima never acted before. I really hope she gets more roles. She has energy and a likeability about her that worked. Everybody else is alright, but she comes closest to being on par with the title-character.
Among everything else, I don’t think I’ve stressed The Wolverine is fun. Lots of drama does ensue, but it certainly has the spirit of a B-movie. The violence surprised me. They creatively edit around it so the blood level doesn’t get too high. Multiple stabs and slices take place with a few intense scenes in the mix to boot – fighting leaves an impact. Lots of bloodshed falls in this hard PG-13. A few of the action scenes have too much shaky cam. Still, most are a lot of fun to watch, and I enjoyed the edgier combat. If you nitpick, you can find little problems here and there. The third act also let me down a tad, but overall The Wolverine was a great summer movie along with being the best superhero movie of the year so far.