Release Date: July 26, 2013
Running Time: 126 minutes
Depending on which version of X-Men Origins: Wolverine you saw, that mythology busting prequel featured a post-credits scene of Ryan Reynolds’ mutated Deadpool emerging from the rumble from a destroyed nuclear reactor or Hugh Jackman’s Logan drinking to remember his past in a bar in Japan. The Wolverine indeed finds our clawed hero in Japan, but it is not a continuation of that prequel, which is a good thing because no one wants to remember its sad and disrespectful treatment of both Wolverine and Deadpool. Instead, The Wolverine picks up sometime after the events of X-Men: The Last Stand, with the death of Jean Grey (the returning Famke Jannsen) at Logan’s hands still weighing on his mind. She even haunts him in his nightmares. Logan comes out of hiding from the Yukon to travel to Tokyo to say goodbye to a dying friend, Yashida, an industrialist whom he saved during the atomic bombing of Nagasaki. To settle the debt, Yashida offers to spare Logan from his curse of immortality. Once Logan declines, he finds himself in the middle of a plot to kill Yashida’s heir apparent, his granddaughter Mariko (Tao Okamoto). He’s also the target of the Viper (Svetlana Khodchenkova), a mutant with a decidedly poisonous side whom Marvel Comics fans also know as Madame Hydra. If the plot of The Wolverine sounds familiar it’s because it is loosely inspired by the classic 1982 limited comic-book series by Frank Miller and Chris Claremont. How loose? In The Wolverine, Logan doesn’t speak a word of Japanese, whereas he was fluent in the language in the comic–book series. The Wolverine also feels less like a superhero epic than a thriller that happens to include mutants battling against mobsters and ninjas. Director James Mangold, though, isn’t interested in being slavishly devoted to a 30-year-old story. Instead, his job to right the wrongs of X-Men Origins: Wolverine, which saw Logan overshadowed by a dozen other mutants and almost ruined a franchise that predates Iron Man, The Avengers, Spider-Man and its reboot. Accordingly, The Wolverine takes its cue from The Dark Knight trilogy rather than the X-Men franchise. This is a brooding character study that attempts to psychoanalyze the greatest comic-book antihero during his darkest moment. It’s a good way to press the reset the button while providing closure on the events of The Last Stand, even if it means downplaying the action. Jackman really gets to dig deep into what drives Logan at a time when he’s at war with himself. While he still pines for Jean Grey, his feelings for Mariko grow stronger each day he keeps her from harms way. He also must deal with what it’s like to feel pain—early in The Wolverine, he’s robbed of his ability to instantly heal, which renders him vulnerable to knife and gunshot wounds. Logan isn’t a superhero who wears his emotions on his sleeves, but as usual, Jackman allows us a glimpse at what compels him to unsheathe his claws. The problem with The Wolverine is that Logan is the most interesting character in the film, with the notable exception of the spunky Rila Fukushima as Mariko’s protector, the psychic Yukio. Mariko makes for a colorless love interest for Logan, and the Viper is the least compelling and threatening Marvel villain in recent memory. So The Wolverine is at its most dramatic when Logan and Yukio are developing their relationship and fighting side by side. Mangold has directed such thrillers as Cop Land, 3:10 to Yuma, andKnight and Day, and while The Wolverine gets off to a bad start with a poorly executed attack during a funeral service, the rest of the action unfolds in assured and riveting fashion. The highlight is a showdown between Logan and two henchmen on the top of a speeding bullet train. In addition, the special effects in The Wolverine improve upon the shoddily work of its predecessor. Overall, The Wolverine is a moderately successful attempt to put X-Men Origins: Wolverine behind it. However, The Wolverine’s stinger, which sets up next year’s X-Men: Day of Future Past, only reaffirms that Wolverine is at his finest when he’s fighting under the command of Professor X.
Aired: July 25, 2013
Web site: http://www.thewolverinemovie.com/