The Wolverine (3 out 5 Stars)
Directed by James Mangold (Walk the Line, 3:10 to Yuma, Knight and Day)
Written by Mark Bomback (Total Recall), Scott Frank (Minority Report), and Christopher McQuarrie (The Usual Suspects)
Starring: Hugh Jackman, Tao Okamoto, Rila Fukishima, and Famke Janssen
In 2009 Wolverine got his own shot at his own film, with X:Men Origins: Wolverine. Wolverine is one of the most popular, if not the most popular X-Men character for mass audiences. If you were to ask many people to character they either know the best, or their favorite within the X-Men world, most people would say Wolverine. With that said, anticipation for Jackman's first solo film centered on this character were highly anticipated. The film was a flop for critics, and fans, no one liked it, and the box office numbers while decent caused a decrease in the franchise. In 2011 there was a break from Wolverine with, X-Men: First Class, and now four years after his last film Jackman is back as 'Logan' the Wolverine.
The Wolverine centers around, well Wolverine (Jackman) sometime after the events from X-Men: The Last Stand (2006). Wolverine has isolated himself in the mountains of Canada, but the old animal instincts are still within his repertoire. Logan is dealing with the PTSD from killing the women he loved, Jean Grey (Janssen). Logan is seeing visions of Jean in his dreams; she laying on the guilt, his own internal guilt, which has plagued him and caused him to isolate. In a bar one night Wolverine unleashes his inner beast, and is confronted by a mutant named Yukio (Fukishima). Yukio explain that the man Logan saved in a flashback at the beginning, Yashida has requested his presence on his deathbed. Wolverine agrees to fly back in order to say his goodbyes, and potentially let go of his own immortality.
The Wolverine tackles the three act arc play, lending the beginning to the set-up Wolverine his PTSD, the middle, which focuses on the connection between Wolverine and his connection and protection Mariko (Okamoto), Yashida's grand daughter, and then finally an action packed finale. While the script is not perfect for the film, it achieves something Origins lacked, depth, intensity, and a great exploration of Wolverine in an interesting situation. The film misses the boat on bringing about a convincing villain, the film focuses too much on Viper, she is neither interesting nor someone worthwhile to cannon of this story. One of of my favorite parts about this film was Yukio, which brought another strong female Asian character, who can hold her own, two in one year (Pacific Rim had the other) is a massive accomplishment. The X-Men films struggle with their, except for Magneto and Stryker (in X-2). Without spoilers the end villain brings about the intensity, with which you have hope to see battled out.
While the script prevents a "great" villain, Mangold creates an action packed film, which never needs one. The script has a depth, thanks to the Logan, Mariko pairing. The two were both searching for something to save them, and they found each other. Mangold was not a bad choice for this film, but his shaky camera style which appeared in Knight and day shows up once again, and it can be more distracting than a style that adds to the substance of the film.
With that said, the action sequences are fun, the story is engaging, and the lead Hugh Jackman is once again fantastic as Wolverine. This film will marks the sixth appearance of Jackman as Wolverine, and his best to date. Jackman gets to explore the loss of love, the journey and exploration of self, and kick some ass all in the same film. Jackman was born to play this role, and he is great as this character. Wolverine was his first major role in the States, and with every film Jackman adds a new layer to this character. In this film he commands the screen, and will continue to be a dominant force in the next X-Men film, stay for after the credits.
While this film is nowhere near perfection its a satisfying chapter in the X-Men films, and made me forgot about the terrible Origins movie. Wolverine is an entertaining action packed film.