After the disappoint of X-Men Origins: Wolverine, Hugh Jackman’s ferocious mutant is back with a film that both the fans and character deserves.
Production of The Wolverine did not start well, with then director Darren Aronofsky quitting and the script undergoing a full-scale rewrite, but the film hides this very well. Set after the events of X-Men: The Last Stand, Wolverine is summoned to Japan by an old acquaintance. Influenced by the Silver Samurai comic books, The Wolverine is an action packed thrill ride, stylishly combining genres of Hollywood summer blockbuster and Asian martial arts. It certainly packs a punch.
Setting the film in Japan was a smart move. Not only does it allow for spectacular martial arts sequences and beautiful scenery, but it also helps create a fantastic storyline. Director James Mangold undertakes a darker and mature tone, exploring Japanense cultural themes such as honour, the position of women and following a father’s will. Mourning the loss of his love Jean, Wolverine suffers from nightmares each night and has made a vow to put away the claws and just be Logan. We see him as a human, weak and helpless. The film is a tale of Logan’s journey of self-discovery. This allows Jackman to really delve into his character’s heart and emotions, giving his best performance yet as the superhero.
Mangold does not forget that two of the reasons why audiences love Wolverine is his reckless attitude and awesome fighting style. The film is very funny at times and has a great script. The action sequences are mostly innovative, spectacular and thrilling. At times you are guaranteed to be at the edge of your seat. With a cast well skilled at martial arts we also get some rather different, but beautifully shot fight sequences. Rila Fukushima, who plays Yukio, deserves a special mention as she stands out from the rest of the crowd. And that’s not only because of her beautiful long red hair.
The Wolverine is paced well, however the climax of the film is very disappointing. The intriguing villain Viper was menacing throughout, but at the end her storyline comes to nothing and she is wasted. Furthermore, rather than a clever ending that answers all the burning questions from earlier, Wolverine instead fights a giant cyborg silver samurai in a ridiculous twist. It’s purely a meaningless action scene. The end credit scene though is definitely worth staying for as it helps build anticipation for X-Men: Days of Future Past.
The Wolverine repairs the mistakes made by Origins, giving fans the film they deserve. Japan provides the perfect setting for an intelligent storyline that combines an emotional self-discovery tale with humour, brilliant martial arts sequences and fun action. It is a shame that the ridiculously silly ending taints the film.