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Movie Review: The Wolverine is a comic book fan’s movie

The Wolverine Hugh Jackman Movie Marvel

The Wolverine is the solo Logan film X-Men fans deserve.

James Mangold’s directing is excellent, Hugh Jackman hits the mark again as Wolverine and the script is, for the most part, solid.

It’s years after the death of Jean Grey (Famke Janssen), but she still tortures Logan in his dreams. She pops up every time Logan’s head hits the pillow, and every one of her scenes helps drive the character-heavy focus of the film.

Logan just can’t get over her, no matter how far he runs.

And hes run pretty far; he’s given up on being Wolverine and gone to live in the mountains of the Yukon.

He’s also given up on using those adamantium claws to shave. Logan is full-on wild man for the first bit of the film, until a soothseeing mutant named Yukio (Rila Fukushima) whisks him away to Japan to see dying tech tycoon Yashida (Haruhiko Yamanouchi).

Logan saved Yashida from a nuclear bomb during World War II, and Yashida is keen to pay Logan back by taking Logan’s healing factor and letting him die.

But despite his demons, Logan is none too keen to give up his powers.

Nevertheless, the poison-spitting blonde Viper (Svetlana Khodchenkova) takes it anyway, and the drama kicks up after that.

Logan spends much of the film protecting Yashida’s granddaughter Mariko (Tao Okamoto) from your typical Japanese baddies: Yakuza, ninjas and, at the end, the adamantium-encased cyborg Silver Samurai.

Silver Samurai vs Wolverine Hugh Jackman Marvel

Because what’s a summer movie without a CGI robot?

The fight sequences are realistic and exciting – particularly in the bullet train sequence – with none of the walking away from explosions cheese we got out of X-Men Origins: Wolverine.

And he does it all with his life on the line.

Bullet wounds don’t heal, scrapes stick around, and Wolverine even gets tired after a good run.

That’s mortality for you.

The Wolverine has, at times, a touch of Iron Man 3 tone to it. It forgoes going big for going small, and is better for it. Unlike Origins, there are no Marvel characters haphazardly shoehorned in, and there are no egregious rewrites of the character canon. Yes, the bone claws do come back, but Origins is responsible for that.

Mangold takes a less is more approach, stripping the character down emotionally and in terms of powers. Making Wolverine vulnerable – making him killable – injects a fresh surge of excitement into the story as we, like the character, deal with Wolverine’s sudden mortality.

Mangold deserves plenty of credit for taking risks with the character, particularly in how he leaves him after the final battle in the film.

The story only falters in the wrap-up, where the film essentially ends on a shrug and an “I dunno” from Wolvie. It’s a flat finish but a post-credits lead-in to X-Men: Days of Future Past manages to whip up some enthusiasm for moviegoers before they leave the theatre.

The Wolverine is a worthy addition to the X-Men film universe. It largely stands alone from the rest of the X-Men films (there isn’t even a death of Jean Grey flashback), and it keeps the focus on the character, not on the special effects.

Based on a story by Frank Miller and Chris Claremont, The Wolverine captures the bare bones style of Miller’s comic book approach.

This is a comic book reader’s comic book movie.

7.5 out of 10

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