Despite the flop that was X-Men Origins: Wolverine, since its release I have been anxiously awaiting more X-Men Origins films (that would hopefully better than Wolverine’s). Alas, there have been no others, but we do get X-Men: First Class, with Days of Future Past to look forward to in 2014. To bridge the gap, we get another Wolverine movie. You know the saying, “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try, again.”
If you are a fan of the X-Men film franchise, see The Wolverine. If for nothing else but the scene after the credits! It will turn you into a giddy fangirl in anticipation of X-Men: Days of Future Past.
The movie opens up outside Nagasaki during World War II, minutes before the bomb drops. Pre-Adamantium Jean Val Jean Logan is a POW locked up in a hole. His cage is opened for a last-ditch effort to run away from an atomic bomb. Being the reluctant hero that he is, Logan saves a Japanese soldier from death and we get to see a very crispy Logan. Fast-forward to the present (post-X:Men The Last Stand), where Jean Grey is dead and Logan is left dealing with the consequences and nightmares. Logan now lives on a mountainside and after an altercation involving hunters, a grizzly, and a samurai-wielding mutant, Logan finds himself on a plane to Tokyo. The soldier from WWII is dying and wants to say good-bye to his savior. But this soldier has an offer for Logan: an end to his immortality. But be careful what you wish for!
For all intents and purposes, this is your typical entertaining summer blockbuster. The Wolverine is very focused on plot, while also incorporating some character-development of Logan. He has to make the decision on whether he still is the Wolverine. I think they were able to execute both very well, and neither one felt severely underdeveloped.
My qualm is that the plot begins and ends within the movie, and doesn’t fit well with the series as a whole. There is no government/army vs. mutants clash like in all the other films. The only thread that ties this movie to the rest of this series besides Wolverine, is Jean Grey. This film is very much a vehicle to get Logan from the emotional state at the end X-Men 3 to whatever state he needs to be in for DoFP. 30 minutes in, I knew it was safe to assume this story would have little relevance come DoFP. The film is a bit of a filler movie in the big picture of all the X-Men films, but an entertaining one at that.
That being said, you should still go see this film. There is a lot of Asian talent in the film, which is great because there isn’t a large talent pool of them in Hollywood. Tao Okamoto as Mariko Yashida acted well as her character, although the romance between her character and Logan felt like it was shoehorned in. Rila Fukushima as Yukio, was AMAZING in the action scenes. She was also excellent at conveying various different emotions and holds her own as a right-hand partner to the Wolverine. Viper was an underwhelming mutant villain, played by Svetlana Khodchenkova. Her powers were very cool, but you never learn her motivations as a baddie.
As a big fan of Jean Grey, I was ecstatic to hear that Famke Janssen would be reprising her role in whatever capacity. In her little screen time, she effectively conveys the side of Logan that wants to just stop and rest in piece. Jean tugs on Logan one way, while life pulls Logan the other way. Whether or not this Jean is his guilt personified or the real Jean remains to be seen (…or it may never be answered, we’ll see come DoFP). Hugh Jackman is great as Wolverine, as always. Also, this even more buff Wolverine would make X-Men I Wolverine huddle in a corner and cry. After 13 years of doing these movies, I don’t think anyone else will be able to play Wolverine as well as Hugh Jackman does.
The film has no shortage of action. They cast some awesome actors and actresses talented in the martial arts, sword wielding, stealth tactics, archery, and the list goes on and on. You’ll know my favorite action sequence when you see it: Wolverine flies.
Thankfully this movie doesn’t mess with the continuity of the film-universe as much as Origins did. The only thing I could pick out is that if Logan lost all his memory at the end of Origins, he would not remember the soldier from Japan at all.
Finally, I can’t stress how much you have to stay after the credits! After all these Marvel movies in recent years, if you’re not sticking around after the credits for every Marvel film, you’re doing it wrong. The scene sets it up for DoFP and has some connection to the after-credits scene of X-Men: The Last Stand. Don’t tell me you missed that one too!
Now, don’t make me use my mutant mind tricks on you. See this movie. Have a good time. Check out the trailer below!