Cast: Hugh Jackman, Hiroyuki Sanada, Tao Okamoto, Rila Fukushima, Famke Janssen, Will Yun Lee
“I’m the Wolverine.”
Ahoy, bub(s)! Aidan here.
It was awesome! It was awesome. Breathe easy. We finally got an up-to-snuff Wolverine film. It’s not the R-rated Aranofsky masterpiece we wanted, but I don’t think anyone expected that.
The good news? It’s damn close, and perfectly satisfying. It earns its title.
I saw The Wolverine at midnight with a packed theater after getting my brain raped by Only God Forgives earlier that day. I’d have accepted anything to wash taste of Refn’s pretentious neon vomit from my mouth, but I wasn’t expecting this. In its first two acts, The Wolverine explores depths of the character that I as a comic fan hadn’t even considered, let alone expected from a summer blockbuster. The film very apparently toes the line of an R rating, acknowledging its violence and language as necessary staples of effectively portraying its titular character, something X-Men Origins: Wolverine was too afraid to embrace.
By the way, remember how bad X-Men Origins: Wolverine was? Good Lord.
The Wolverine follows Logan (Jackman), now a disillusioned drifter haunted by the events (and probably the existence) 0f X-Men: The Last Stand. Plagued by hallucinations of past loves and resentful of his immortality, he accepts an offer from an old friend in Japan to undergo a procedure that will make him mortal. Things, however, are not what they seem, and Logan winds up in a vicious fight for survival against Yakuza, ninjas, and cartoon robots.
Jackman is, as usual, on-point in the role of Logan. He’s always been. Even in the lesser X-Men films, his performance as Wolvie has remained consistently outstanding. Like Snipes as Blade and Downey Jr. as Iron Man, Hugh Jackman seems to have stuck his claws in the role of our favorite mutant and refused to let go. His passion for the character is boastfully evident here, and you can tell he’s reveling the chance to do the character justice for us.
No more CGI claws. No more crying. And guess what…. blood! There’s blood!
The supporting cast is all fantastic, and Jean Grey’s brief appearances aren’t distracting or unwelcome at all. The film very effectively conveys Logan’s true sense of dread at living – how does someone find things to live for every day when he’s the only constant? Is it selfish to want to undo immortality when others would kill for it? Is that gift even someone’s to take? Big questions are asked and pondered in The Wolverine, ones that didn’t have to be but are entirely welcome. The film’s existential melancholy is a mark of a thoughtful film coincidentally released during the Summer – not a summer blockbuster.
The flick truly feels like Jackman, Marvel & co. really wanted to do right by us. And they have.
As I hinted before, the third act has some problems. Things get a little wonky when Logan gets trapped in Viper’s lab – I was worried about her character from the trailers, and my worries were confirmed in the film. She’s an unnecessary cartoonish presence, and when the movie gets things so scarily perfect in the first two acts, it sucks to watch it lose its grip at the end. Silver Samurai is a cartoon robot who isn’t mentioned or introduced until his only fight scene, and it’s a silly one.
The Wolverine is at its best when its human characters are interacting – be it fighting, talking, or arguing. And that’s great. When the people are done so right and the threats feel so real, there’s no need for CGI silliness. Although the film briefly succumbs to that, it’s far from enough to sink it. The entire end sequence is what I was afraid the whole movie was going to be, so I suppose I should count my blessings.
Problems aside, The Wolverine is rare summer entertainment, and at times it feels like a film made for the fans that truly slipped by the studio’s eye and allows us to be truly satisfied.
The Wolverine is the fun, fast, and surprisingly grim iteration of the character we’ve been waiting for. It’s not perfect, but it’s just as good as it needs to be, and a welcome return to form for our favorite mutant.