I pity the fool who tries to portray Wolverine after Hugh Jackman is done with the part, you know, after another 30 years or so. Jackman is Wolverine, Wolverine is Jackman. That’s all there is to it. He’s played this character in seven films and counting- a feat few actors can boast- and part of the reason is that he’s so darn fantastic at being the super cool, hella buff, tormented, badass superhero, and he’s back in The Wolverine. Will this follow-up to the uneven and somewhat atrocious X-Men Origins: Wolverine manage to surpass its predecessor?
In The Wolverine, Logan’s old WWII pal,, Yashida (Hal Yamanouchi), summons him to Japan to give his deathbed goodbye. Unsurprisingly, he doesn’t call on The Wolverine just for a simple goodbye; no Yashida has to go and offer Wolverine a chance at becoming mortal to thank him for saving his life all those years ago… and highjinks unfold from there.
On the positive side, we’ve got three major female characters. The villainous Viper (Svetlana Khodchenkova), slinks around unassumingly, poisoning people who cross her until she gets what she wants. Wolverine gets a bodyguard, Yukio (Rila Fukushima), who can wield a sword like a conductor wielding a baton. Then there’s the female character apparently made of gold since every person in the world is after her, Mariko (Tao Okamoto). Actually, she just inherited mountain loads of money so that’s a legitimate reason people are trying to kidnap/kill her. Even Mariko, though, isn’t just a helpless sack there to get kidnapped. I mean she does, but she has moments where she fights off the attackers instead of only yelling helplessly. She also becomes proactive towards the end as well. Being the daughter of the lethal swordsman Shingen (Hiroyuki Sanada), it makes sense that Mariko’s got some skills, which she shows off when fighting her would-be kidnappers. The first time she gets kidnapped, anyway.
There are some high-quality action sequences here, too. During one particularly great scene, Wolverine dukes it out with some baddies atop a bullet train. There’ve been many fight scenes set on top of trains, but this one turns it into less of an outright fight and more of a scramble to see who can dodge obstacles and stay on the roof without slipping/getting smacked off. Outside of the train sequence, most of the fights are very close-quarters, reminiscent of some Statham classics like The Transporter. Even some of the more CG-heavy battles at the end don’t lean too heavily on the special effects crutch- things stay personal and real.
On the negative side is the story, which isn’t exactly flawless. Sure, we get some interesting character development from Wolverine, seeing him hurt in ways we’ve never seen before, but the main plotline has rampant logic issues, and the slow second act doesn’t help. But if you want to see Hugh Jackman scream and plunge claws into bad guys, or Wolverine have some legitimate character growth, or just want to see a better Wolverine flick to wash the taste of X-Men Origins: Wolverine out of your mouth, then this is well worth your time.
Action Rating: 3 ½ Shirtless Hugh Jackmans, out of 5!
This is the Action Flick Chick, and you’ve just been kicked in the ass!
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