Wolverine, aka Logan (Hugh Jackman), is living as a hermit after the events of X-Men: The Last Stand, tortured by visions of Jean Grey (Famke Janssen). He’s brought out of it by the mysteirous Yukio (Rila Fukushima), who’s come to collect him for an old friend in Japan who wishes to repay a debt…by offering to strip Logan of his mutant healing factor and make him mortal. While Logan contemplates the offer, he’s drawn into a web of intrigue and secrets and must fight his way out of it if he wants to survive.
Do you remember X-Men Origins: Wolverine? Here’s hoping you don’t, because this film doesn’t, and that’s entirely for the good of everyone involved. Completely ignoring that film’s botched narrative and focusing instead on adapting Chris Claremont’s 1982 comic series, The Wolverine is the film we should have had in the first place. A meaty narrative with plenty of depth, entertaining characters brought to life by well-cast actors, and fight scenes that number among some of the best in the X-Men film franchise all make this a film worthy of Marvel’s favorite anti-hero.
Hugh Jackman, ripped beyond belief, once again does a fantastic job of showing why Wolverine is such a popular character. He’s played the character so much at this point that it’s nearly effortless for him, but he never once slacks off in his performance. Fukushima steals most of her scenes, though, with her anime girl looks and confident delivery a welcome injection of vigor. James Mangold’s tight, kinetic direction is perfectly matched by Marco Beltrami’s score, and the script finds a nice balance between action and drama without sacrificing one for the other.
A few characters from the X-franchise get short shrift here, and purists will not be happy with some of the adapatations, but that’s a small price to pay to erase the stain of Origins from both the character’s history and the series at large. Come for Hugh Jackman’s abs and veins, stay for the thrilling cinema. And for the abs and veins…and biceps…and traps…and lats…
8 out of 10 / A-