The Wolverine is, quite simply, the Wolverine film that Wolverine fans have been Wolverining for. The first two X-Men films, although exceptional, are of course, jam packed with characters and thus not a proper Wolverine showcase. The downright goofy X-Men Origins (the character's first solo vehicle) featured freaking Will I Am as a villain, and that encapsulates its utter crappitude perfectly. Well happily, we shall never make mention of it again, because The Wolverine makes up for that travesty and then some.
After an amazing prologue set in WWII era Japan as bombs rain on Nagasaki, we find our hero wandering the forests of the Yukon buried underneath a mound of Jesusy beard growth and long icky hair. Since the death of his old love Jean Grey (who died by his hands), the Wolverine has essentially become a cave dwelling hermit, living amongst the trees and grizzlies. Jean's death weighs heavily on his heart, and in order to atone for his sins, he's taken a vow of non-violence. Fortunately for us, this vow is soon broken, when he is lured to Japan by a very old acquaintance to whom he owes a great debt.
Once Logan lands in Japan, he soon becomes involved in a feud among one of the most powerful families in Tokyo, and from there on, in the film is pretty much wall to wall action, with our clawed hero battling every manner of classic Japanese adversary, from Ninjas to Yakuzas to an enormous Samurai robot. The suspense is upped tremendously by a plot twist that finds Logan robbed of his extraordinary self-healing powers. Through much of the film he's actually vulnerable, but this only seems to bolster his swagger. He takes bullets and blades like a champ, still forging onward in spite of pain and severe blood loss.
The Wolverine is based in part on a short series penned by comic book super-scribe Frank Miller, and although the story diverges from his, Miller's hard boiled edge is definitely left intact. The character of Wolverine REALLY gets to be Wolverine here, displaying levels of bad-assery heretofore unseen in any X-Men outing, and Hugh Jackman digs into the character like adamantium claws through ninja flesh. Also refreshing is the fact that Wolvie's dark and dry sense of humor comes across flawlessly here, not that it's by any means a laugh riot, but every now and then the action is accented quite well with Wolverine's pitch black sense of humor.
As a life-long fan of the character, I was not disappointed, and as a lover of pulpy comic book action films, I was impressed. Its two hour running time went by like a breeze, and afterwards I truly felt like the movie had pulled out several tricks I haven't seen in a superhero flick before. In terms of this year's crop of summer movie blockbusters, The Wolverine is among the very best. Perhaps it doesn't approach Dark Knight levels of psychological complexity, but what it may lack in that respect it more than makes up for with its non-stop butt-kicking.
So if you had even the faintest desire to see The Wolverine, by all means get thee to the theater and prepare to be entertained. Just DO NOT make the same mistake many of the movie goers did at my particular theater, by leaving right when the credits roll. There is some serious Schwarma-like action a few minutes later, and believe you me, it is not to be missed.
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