Verdict: 4 / 5
After the dismal Wolverine Origins and the brilliant X-Men: First Class film, The Wolverine wasn’t as highly anticipated. My expectation for this film wasn’t too high, and yet when I left the cinema, I knew that The Wolverine is really something special. With so many comic book films being released, so many of them being these larger than life stories, with huge action scenes filled with magic and futuristic weaponry, The Wolverine really distinguishes itself as character driven story. It delves into the pain and misery of this immortal being, who is burdened by his long life filled with grief. It’s a real introspective view on Wolverine, who at his core is a lonely haunted soul that craves death, but is cursed with immortality.
Logan: What they did to me, what I am, can’t be undone.
The film takes place a couple of years after Last Stand. We find Logan, in the beginning of the story, as a broken, lost, tormented soul, who has retired from his superhero ways, having given up on being the Wolverine. He travels to Japan to meet a man he saved in WWII, but soon finds himself embroiled in a deadly plot of betrayal and greed. He loses his immortality and is forced to face his inner demons.
With the film set in Japan it really takes the audience and the characters on this remarkable journey in a foreign land. The locations chosen for each scene are so different and yet so picturesque that it brings a certain level of tranquility. The film certainly is influenced by its setting in Japan, the story borrowing from Japanese sensibilities when it comes to storytelling. It shifts seamlessly from big action and fight scenes to the quieter moments where we get to see and understand his ambitions.
Yashida: Eternity can be a curse. The losses you have had to suffer… a man can run out of things to care for, lose his purpose.
That’s not to say that the film is one big philosophical view on the Wolverine, it’s not. The bullet train scene is certainly the highlight of the film, as the trailers really don’t do it any justice. Hugh Jackman’s fight scene with Japanese Legend Hiroyuki Sanada is a beautifully choreographed memorable battle. The film has very intricate action scenes, yet the film really is a drama, a character piece that sheds itself of the label comic book or superhero film. It delivers in terms action, character work and story. The Wolverine offers the big spectacular action but balances it out with the emotion.
With no other major mutants forcing their way on-screen, Hugh Jackman once again brought his A-Game to the role, only this time he managed to change the tone of the character, giving us a different side to the hero. As the film goes to great length to show us Logan’s torment, Jackman has more to play with, adding a different nuance to his performance. This will certainly mark his best Wolverine performance to date.
Shingen Yashida: What kind of monster are you?
Logan: The Wolverine!
Another major plus for this film has to be its supporting cast, which includes Rila Fukushima and Tao Okamoto who play Yukio and Mariko Yashida respectively. Both these lovely ladies are making their film debuts with The Wolverine, which is quite remarkable as Rila and Tao both play there characters so well. You would be gob smacked to think that this is the first time these girls have starred in a film both in America and Japan. Rila is certainly something else as Yukio, as the character has been changed quite a bit from her comic book counterpart. I can say without a doubt fans will love this version of the character so much more. Rila certainly brings a different energy to the film, with her energy, enthusiasm, idiosyncrasies and just plain bad-assness. So much so that when the character establishes herself as Wolverine’s bodyguard it will instantly induce a smile. Hiroyuki Sanada plays Shingen Yashida the father of Mariko and one of the many antagonists of the story. Hiroyuki plays the role with such a cool bravado it’s easy to see why his so loved in Japan.
The Wolverine certainly is one of the finest superhero films to come out recently. For the first time we really get to see that superhero films can be big action, fun films, but at the same time they can be good character driven stories that’s filled with drama, intensity and intrigue.