Film Review: The Wolverine

Real Steel.

The Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) bares his claws once more in Logan’s second solo outing following on from his X-Men: Origins story.

Despite potentially being overlooked in a midst of other superhero summer blockbusters like Iron Man 3 and Man Of Steel, The Wolverine surprisingly does more than hold its own. Arguably, it’s the best of the lot.

Our favourite X-Man’s journey begins after the events of Logan’s deathly face-off with Jean Grey‘s destructive alter-ego ‘Phoenix’, in which he was forced to kill the love of his life for the greater good, before leaving Xavier’s School For Gifted Youngsters in search for answers.

After a flashback to Nagasaki during World War II, we see Logan save a Japanese officer named Yashida from certain atomic death, before heading back to present day Yukon. Here, the Wolverine is no more, just a hairy, homeless man who’s tormented by dreams of his beloved Jean (Famke Janssen) and reminisces about the days with his fellow X-Men.

An incident with a gigantic bear and a group of hunters later, we finally see a glimpse of Wolverine’s brutal, no-nosense attitude, until he’s interrupted by the mysterious samurai sword-wielding, Yukio (Rila Fukushima). More than capable of looking after herself, Yukio begs our titular hero to accompany her back to Japan as part of her employer’s dying wish.

Of course, her employer is Yashida, who has amassed a great fortune via his technology corporation since their encounter in Nagasaki. His wish actually turns out to be a gift, and a strange one at that; offering to rid Logan of his healing abilities, giving him is mortality back – an offer that he declines (duh?).

Subsequently, that decision proves Wolverine costly, involving himself in Yashida’s clan majorly backfires as he’s forced to protect Mariko (Tao Okamoto), the heir to Yashida’s fortune and business, from countless assassination attempts by the Yakuza and from people closer to home.

Although, defending Mariko isn’t as easy as it should be, since Logan-San can’t heal properly. It might have something to do with Yashida’s personal Doctor – Viper (Svetlana Khodchenkova) previously shoving something down his throat in a ‘dream’.

Producing some incredibly stylish, intelligent and concise action scenes on a bullet-train at 300mph, this is where The Wolverine takes precedence over the likes of Man Of Steel. This is a sublime action-piece, crafted and executed to perfection, one that doesn’t rumble on for too long and doesn’t take itself too seriously.

There are some slick bad-ass one liners too (“You can’t pretend shit isn’t happening when it is, princess”) and some hilarious interactions with Mariko and Logan, who have quite an interesting relationship (one that’s not tedious and requires Mariko to be rescued 24/7, she’s very savvy with knives). The ‘Love Hotel’ scene is comically awkward.

Kenuichio Harada (Will Yun Lee) is most impressive when running along rooftops, taking out enemies with crossbows, and his Black Ninja Clan members take down Wolverine with a hella’ lotta’ arrows which is aesthetically pleasing, but that’s about all the character really brings to the film. During the finale, Harada’s motive is conflicted and confusing, resulting in some idiotic combat with the film’s giant antagonist, the robotic Silver Samurai.

The villains in the film are probably the films’ weakest aspect. Viper is much more of a 70s Bond villain than modern day supervillain, she kind’ve whiffs of Uma Thurman’s Poison Ivy character in Batman & Robin, kissing people to death (yawn), whilst the secret origin of the Silver Samurai robot is pretty easy to bypass once you’re mid-way through the plot. But it doesn’t mean that the final battle and plot points are boring, they’re a lot less convoluted than other superhero flicks.

Overall, The Wolverine is consistently good throughout, with some star performances by Jackman, Fukushima and Okamoto. Its action scenes don’t fail to wow, Japan is visually stunning and the key relationships gel effectively. Still, some die-hard critics refuse to acknowledge Jackman as the ‘true’ Wolverine, but he is the best he is at what he does.

Stick around after the first batch of credits, the mid-credit scene that leads up to Days Of Future Past is worth the admission fee in itself, chills.

4 out of 5 stars, bub.

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