Release date: July 26, 2013
Grade: B+ (3.5/5 stars)
Yes, “X-Men Origins: Wolverine” sucked, and it sucked big time. But “The Wolverine” is not another reboot in which we see how the character came to be. Instead, it is a sequel to “X-Men: The Last Stand,” which, itself, was also a lame entry in the “X-Men” franchise. Fear not, though, as James Mangold (“3:10 to Yuma,” “Walk the Line”) takes over as director and makes “The Wolverine” a likable installment of the, so far, six-film Marvel series.
Set after the events of “X-Men: The Last Stand,” “The Wolverine” has our Adamantium hero (Hugh Jackman) in Japan, where he has shunned himself away from society. Sporting long hair and a thick beard, Logan has been living like a hermit ever since he killed his one true love, Jean Grey (Famke Janssen), who still visits him from time to time. But he is called back into civilization when he discovers that someone he saved from the atom bomb attack in Nagasaki, during World War II, is dying. It turns out he is the most powerful man in all of Japan, and as his life comes to an end, everything around him comes under attack.
At the funeral, the Yakuza stage an ambush and kidnap the daughter of the man. To make things worse, there’s a bodacious blonde named Viper (Svetlana Khodchenkova) running around and using her poisonous tongue against those who oppose her. As Logan tries to fend off these new forces of evil, he comes to realize that he is no longer immortal, and he feels the pain inflicted by bullets or other objects.
One would think that after seeing Jackman play the role of Logan/Wolverine in five previous films, including that “First Class” cameo, the character might become a bit tiresome. But that’s not the case here, as Mangold approaches Wolverine from a much different perspective than what has already been presented in the previous films. Using a storyline from the 1980s comics by Frank Miller and Chris Claremont, we see Logan/Wolverine as a lone drifter, a la Clint Eastwood’s “The Man with No Name” trilogy. There are also some hints of Edward Zwick’s “The Last Samurai” with Logan being the American in Japan, facing off the bad guys and finding love along the way.
Jackman, now 44, never seems to get tired with the role of Logan/Wolverine. Here, he’s given a challenge, as his character goes through some changes, and he has to know what it feels like to be vulnerable. Jackman, in the role for the sixth time, is still a delight to see.
Mangold creates some impressive action sequences, including one on a speeding train that will just leave the viewer in awe. And while the film does become a little cluttered toward the end, “The Wolverine” still comes away as being an enjoyable popcorn film. It’s no “X-Men: First Class,” but it works. And, yes, there is a scene in the middle of the credits, and it is totally worth waiting to see.
“The Wolverine” is now playing at Cinemark 14 in Chico. Click here for showtimes.