July 28, 2013

Movie Review: The Wolverine

There was a time when the prospect of a Wolverine movie really excited me, but after three X-Men movies with Wolverine as a central character and the X-Men Origins: Wolverine movie, well, let's say that our wild man was close to overstaying his welcome. I had a suspicion we may have seen the last of the clawed anti-hero. Then word came down that Darren Aronofsky (The Wrestler, The Fountain) was coming on to helm the follow up. That got my attention and hope for a strong film returned, and then dashed when he dropped off the project.

After Aronofsky's departure, I sort of lost tack of the production, I knew it was still coming, but I had no idea who was directing. Now, the movie is hear and the first thing I have to say is not to judge it based on the Origins film. I know there are some people out there who liked it, but I did not think it was a good movie at all. Simply titled The Wolverine, this is a really good film with a much stronger focus than the prior film and feels like they really stepped up their game. I would say that is a good thing following the excellence that X-Men: First Class.

The Wolverine, with James Mangold (3:10 to Yuma, Walk the Line) directing, feels like a film out to prove something. Since the early X-Men movies, the entire superhero sub genre has moved to the next level, what with the Christopher Nolan Batman cycle and the stuff Marvel has been doing with Iron Man and The Avengers, and in order to truly make a dent and retain relevancy something had to be done to step up the game. This movie definitely does it. While it is not the dark and gritty R-rated violence that the character probably deserves, it is a movie that tried a little harder.

The story primarily takes place after X-Men: The Last Stand, with an early flashback to when Logan was held captive by the Japanese in World War II, just prior to the bomb drop on Nagasaki. It is this moment, and wheat he does that sets the events of the present into motion. You see, while he is a loner, he still has a heart, and manages to save a your Japanese officer from the radiation blast of the nuclear bomb.

The scene shifts to the present where Logan is living alone it the mountains, haunted by his past and the events of the third X-Men movie, where Jean Grey was apparently killed. The problem is that no matter how much he separates himself from society, there is no way to complete cut himself off from it, and that being he case, there is no way he will never become a part of some sort of issue. He is the anti-hero with a heart, he will always seek justice, even if it is his form of justice.

He is found on the wilderness by Yukio (Rila Fukushima), her employer wishes him, Yashida, to come so he could thank him for of saving his life so many years before. He man he saved during the war is now the head of a giant tech company, he is also on us death bed. This is where things get complicated.

It seems that Wolverine is something of a well known figure and a lot of people are out to get him, but they are also after Yashida's daughter, Mariko (Tao Okamoto). Inevitably, Logan stays to protect Mariko, while also putting himself at great risk.

There is something about this movie that just really works. The performances are all solid and the action is fast and violent. Sure, this is a tale weighted in the direction of drama, but it is not without is action. The action is edited pretty cleverly, never fully shying away from being full contact violent, but known how to move things around to preserve a PG-13 rating.

I liked he portrayal of Logan as a ronin, a master less samurai, but also as an anarchic and unpredictable figure who subscribes to no tradition in a society where so much is given to tradition. The piece in common between society and our hero is honor. Combine that with a tormented hero struggling with his apparent immortality and you have the makings of a pretty interesting movie.

In all seriousness, this movie far exceeded my expectations. While, I strongly suspect there are some continuity issues with prior films revelations, taken on its own, it really draws one in. This is a strong film with a solid central performance that had interesting character elements as well as an exciting bigger picture.

Highly Recommended.

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Unknown said...

Nice! I was going to check it out anyway but your review has me excited to see it. Thanks!

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