Review: The Wolverine (2013)

In spite of some flaws deriving from formula, The Wolverine is an entertaining ride. Much superior to Wolverine’s last solo outing, the boredom inducing X-Men Origins: Wolverine, the film’s careful character development of Logan carries the film, and features some pretty exhilarating set-pieces (the bullet train chase among them, subverting the overused action trope in a sequence made eerie by the recent high-profile train crashes in Spain and Canada).

Unfortunately, by the third act the movie descends into ridiculousness (featuring—what else? Ninjas, robots, and (SPOILER ALERT) a foreseeable ending that is reminiscent of last year’s clunky but visually-dazzling Prometheus.)

All in all, though, Jackman carries the film, his performance ranging from a vengeful Christ-like figure (just look at that beard), to assuming the role of a protector, and eventually embracing his role as a hero. Not exactly new, but well-executed, indeed.

His supporting cast features several Japanese actors audiences will be unfamiliar with, but Jackman finds a worthy sidekick in the red-headed Yukio, and a love in Mariko. The two female leads help him get over the death of his lover from the original X-Men movies, Jean Grey, who shows up in a series of flashbacks.

The film’s exotic Japanese locales made the film feel fresh, considering how often Manhattan is put in peril in these types of movies. I found the Nagasaki scenes disturbing—and yes, they show the atomic bombing. Not often in American movies do we see the consequences of strategic decisions.

The post-credits scene, while confusing, promises even more fun from the X-Men in the upcoming Days of Future Past, which promises to link the characters from the original X-Men trilogy to the earlier versions of themselves introduced in X-Men: First Class. Because Wolverine takes place after the events of X-Men: The Last Stand, the franchise can finally move forward, instead of backtracking and muddling in the already trite prequel and reboot territory, first popularized by Batman Begins but since swallowing all sense and reason. (Man of Steel, The Amazing Spider-Man, The Incredible Hulk, the list goes on and on.) After the success of The Dark Knight movies, studio execs must have had only one thing in mind: If we make it darker and grittier, it’ll be better. The Wolverine manages to balance darkness and still retain the wit of the earlier X-Men movies. Yeah, they can make it grittier, but there still has to be some fun. Wolverine is fun. If that doesn’t cut it for you, go see something else.

The Wolverine

20th Century Fox

Released July 26, 2013.

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