It’s been four years since “X-Men Origins: Wolverine” and Wolverine has made his return in full force in grandiose style for “The Wolverine.” Hugh Jackman plays the title role with such intensity and brooding and connection to the character that’s hard to imagine that this beast of a man was the same person who was singing showtunes not that long ago as Jean Valjean.
For those who have not seen the “X-Men Origins: Wolverine” or any of the other X-Men movies will have a few unanswered questions when watching the various flashbacks that Wolverine has in the movie. He is struggling with his past and haunted by who he is, something that is carried with him through most of the movie. But the storyline itself doesn’t pick up where the last one left off. In fact, it begins with Wolverine isolated on a mountaintop, trying to stay away from his old life, but soon finds himself back in justice-seeking action and slashing through the air with his blades. However, it’s not long before he is summoned to Japan to meet up with his long-ago, dying friend Yashida who has something Wolverine may want: mortality.
The scenery is spectacular and the story is one that is larger than life, but there are bits that while necessary, should have been played out by someone more convincing. Viper (Svetlana Khodchenkova), for example, the chemist/doctor who is helping ease the pain of a dying Yashida is a central character to the storyline, but her presence never seemed to manifest into something beyond just an annoyance.
The two strong female leads played by Rila Fukushima and Tao Okamoto show that playing damsels in distress does not sit well with them. Yukio (Fukushima) is the young girl with sword-wielding skills who is responsible for retrieving Wolverine and bringing him to Japan. She is unofficially the adopted sister to Mariko, the granddaugther to the now powerful Yashida and stands to inherit everything he owns. How the characters all intertwine is a bit of a jumble at times but with Wolverine right at the center of it all.
Highlights: The train scene is a fun, exhilarating ride especially for anyone who participated at the interactive tent at Comic Con this past weekend. And there is enough ninja action in this movie to make it look like Wolverine actually has some competition. In the end, he has to decide if it’s in him to still fight or if the Wolverine is to be forgotten altogether.
Final words: The action in this movie makes the original look almost like a yawn. Hugh Jackman is triumphant as The Wolverine. And of course, Marvel fans should expect a little something extra after the credits that is worth sticking around for.