Hugh Jackman returns as Wolverine in this second solo outing of the beloved X-Men character. Directed by James Mangold and written by Christopher MQuarrie (The Usual Suspects) and Mark Bomback, The Wolverine—with inspiration coming from the 1980’s Marvel universe made by Chris Claremont and Frank Miller—tells the story of the adventures of the regenerating, self-healing, adamantium-clawed Logan (Jackman) in Japan. The film starts in the middle of the World War II wherein Logan saves a Japanese soldier/friend from the act of killing himself (educate me with the rightful term for it, thank you). Fast forward to present day and we find, in the middle of a forest, a homeless, heavily bearded Logan, who I thought would suddenly break out into a song about his miserable life. One heroic event brings Logan into the hands of a quirky Japanese lady named Yukio (Rila Fukushima). What Logan does not know is that Yukio was sent by the same Japanese soldier/friend Logan helped. Logan now has to fly to Japan to bid farewell to this person. Of course there’s a catch because nobody in his sane mind to just let a friend fly a thousand miles just to bid farewell, right? Logan is then introduced to the soldier’s granddaughter, Mariko (Tao Okamoto), his well-known love interest in the comic book.
It is very refreshing to see a film being shot entirely in one location, rather than to move from one country to the next just to create some sort of an action-packed drama. Speaking of action, I really loved the way the action sequences were executed –from the semi-hilarious encounter at a cheap bar, to the cat-and-mouse chase in a ceremony, on top of the bullet train (my personal favorite), to the breathtaking climactic duel between a samurai master and Wolverine to an almost silhouette-like effect (another favorite), to the epic final battle–everything was notably well-made. However, as much as I loved the adrenaline rush that exuded in the action scenes, the tranquil interludes in between were too dragging for me. I wonder why movies have to be too long nowadays.
As for the cast, Jackman’s role is very crucial in terms of being believable to the role—and he completely shines through. Okamoto is fierce and hot in her role as Mariko. BUT the biggest flaw in the movie is that it is induced with cringe-worthy icebreakers from Jean Grey (Famke Janssen) that seeing her inappropriately in lingerie while messing up with Logan’s subconscious tells me something that pertains more to Logan’s lust towards Jean Grey than his unrequited love. (If you have seen X-Men: The Last Stand, you would probably know why and how she ended in The Wolverine)
The Wolverine is a very stylized, entertaining, and action packed ride that goes sluggish in between that eventually dragged the movie’s length to almost three hours. In the end it’s all about Wolverine and Jackman delivered higher than the material itself. By the way I actually watched this movie twice just to re-watch the end credits, and yes, it’s all worth it!
3.5 out of 5 stars.