BAKERSFIELD, Calif. - Just in case you haven’t had quite enough superhero action this summer, the latest X-Men flick The Wolverine is here to help you fill that void. Hugh Jackman reprises his role as the sideburn enthusiast, I mean, mutant hero for the fifth time (six if you count his short cameo in X-Men: First Class), this being the second movie focused solely on his character.
The Wolverine focused mainly on the concept of mortality and what that means to a man who is doomed to live forever. Logan (yes the Wolverine does have an actual name) is offered the chance to live a normal life, grow old and die by a man who is indebted to him for saving his live in the atomic bombing of Nagasaki. Logan ultimately decides that it is his eternity to face, but his decision is met with much approval by the dying man and his doctor. After the old man, founder of a huge technology company, dies, his granddaughter is put in danger by the people whom she has loved and trusted. The Wolverine finds his power to heal dramatically reduced by the venomous Viper, and it’s up to him to save not only the granddaughter, but also himself.
The film is set primarily in Japan, lending itself to wonderful location shots in both the city and the countryside, along with some awesome martial arts sequences. Wolverine’s crimson haired “bodyguard” Yukio who looks more like a schoolgirl until she pulls out her samurai sword. Barstools and beer bottles beware. Another stunning action scene is the chase on the high speed train, on top of the high speed train. You’ll find yourself dodging the beams and bars as they fly through the air, fighting the whole time. Wolverine’s claws lend themselves as quite helpful in this instance.
Besides the excitement and visuals, this movie is actually quite funny. Hugh Jackman plays the role as brooding and tough when he needs to, but when his sarcastic side comes out, it’s downright hilarious. The interactions especially between him and Yukio provide laughs while also reminding us that the Wolverine is still human inside. She is not afraid to put him in his place, and that grounds the character of the Wolverine and makes him more likeable.
My only qualm with the film is that I wish they would have focused more on the Wolverine grasping with the idea of mortality. The film does a good job setting up his tragic past and the death of the woman he loved, giving him a motivation to want to be able to finally choose death. I just don’t feel that the concept of his choice of eternity was fleshed out in an emotionally satisfying way. Also, the villain of the Viper doesn’t really get much explanation and seems a bit one-dimensional. When you can have bit of gray area in terms of whether or not the villain is truly evil, they are a much more engaging character.
For a PG-13 action film, the action scenes are pretty intense and the language is a bit stronger than say, The Avengers, just as a caution if you’re looking at taking the kids. Also, for the squeamish (like me), might be best to look away (like I did) when the Wolverine decides to give himself some heart surgery with his bare hands.
For both die hard and casual X-Men fans alike, The Wolverine is another great chapter in the series and a nice way to spend two hours this summer. Stay during the credits for a special scene with a sneak peek towards the next installment X-Men: Days of Future Past!
Check back a bit later in the week for a preview of all the August releases coming out within the next month.
The Wolverine is rated PG-13 for sequences of intense sci-fi action and violence, some sexuality and language. Read more about the movie here.