'The Wolverine': A Fun, Fresh Take On The Evolution Of The Mutant Warrior
The Wolverine, the sequel to X-Men Origins: Wolverine (2009), surpasses its predecessor both visually and in its story development.
The film starts out in 1945 Japan when, during the last days of WWII, Logan (Hugh Jackman) (aka the Wolverine) is captured in a POW camp.
When the Atomic Bomb is dropped on nearby Nagasaki, he manages to escape from the camp, and, in doing so, also saves a Japanese military officer, Yashida (Ken Yamamura), from certain death by nuclear blast. It seems only natural that the onset of a story about the rise of the world's most loved and melancholic Marvel mutant should start with a nuclear blast, spreading radiation and destruction over the land of the rising sun.
In the present, we pick up right where X-Men Origins: Wolverine left off. Logan is found in the Canadian wilderness by the now old Japanese military officer Yashida (Hal Yamanouchi), and is invited back to Japan. But the elderly Yashida has an ulterior motive for his generosity — he wants Logan's immortality transplanted into his own body. And it turns out he is not the only one after Logan’s extraordinary abilities.
A throng of new abnormal acquaintances are introduced, such as the vicious mutant vixen Viper (Svetlana Khodchenkova), who also wants to distillate and bottle Logan's immortality, and a Silver Samurai, who has a one-of-a-kind adamantium katana sword that can cut through Wolverine’s claws. There is also Yukio (Rila Fukushima), a mutant with seer abilities who can foresee death — an easy enough task in a flick like this. The largest supporting role is that of Mariko (Tao Okamoto), Yashida’s beautiful daughter for whom Wolverine eventually retracts his claws and falls in love with (or maybe it is the other way round.) His feelings for her quickly become a liability when she is captured by Wolverine's enemies and used to lure him out of hiding. And a large part of the story focuses on the rescue of his damsel in distress.
Directed by James Mangold, best known for the Oscar-winning Johnny Cash biopic, Walk the Line (2005), The Wolverine is extremely ambitious, in terms of both story and visual effects. The 3D added in post-production works its magic, as it so often does in bombastic movies like this one.
The big question with this film is whether or not the Wolverine can carry a movie on his own. It would appear that Wolverine can, indeed, carry on his own franchise — mostly due to Hugh Jackman's soulful, serious and borderline pretentious acting.
Jackman is even more ruthlessly rugged and ripped in this film than he was in X-Men Origins: Wolverine, so it’s definitely one you want to sink your claws into, especially if you're into the brawny, bearded Jackman.