The Wolverine Review

The Wolverine

Hugh Jackman’s had a bit of a mixed run as Wolverine.

The first X-Men film back at the turn of the century witnessed not only the screen introduction of the Aussie actor’s interpretation of this iconic character, but also signalled the rise of superhero films that continues to this day.

Despite initial outrage regarding inaccuracies in the screen version’s height and stature, eventual fanboy approval earned Jackman more screen time in X2.

The third X-Men instalment was considered below average a tad unfairly in my opinion, but continued the trend of keeping Wolverine centre stage while side lining hitherto treasured characters such as Cyclops and Rogue.

Disaster then struck with X-Men Origins: Wolverine, a special effects-drenched headache of a movie where Jackman jostles for screen time with Liev Schrieber, Danny Huston and Ryan Reynolds amongst others.

But appropriately enough, Logan came back to life in a simple thirty-second cameo during X-Men: First Class, and the stage was set for a re-boot of sorts.

Which is how we got to The Wolverine, neatly timed to precede X-Men: Days Of Future Past coming to a screen near you next year.

James Mangold of Walk The Line fame takes the director’s reins here, and wisely decides to concentrate more on Logan’s story rather than introducing another entourage of inferior, Will.i.am shaped mutants.

Drawing on the eighties comic book series by Chris Claremont and Frank Miller, The Wolverine sees Logan relocated to Japan and this fish-out-of-water setting proves an effective way of re-introducing the character.

The story centres around Logan’s journey to Tokyo, so he can fulfil the dying wish of an old soldier called Yashida whose life he’d saved during the second world war.

Without giving too much away, Logan soon finds himself in a position where he has few people to trust but lots of enemies to slash up.

Think Marvel meets Manga.

The Wolverine also takes a page out of good old Superman 2, by stripping away Logan’s rejuvenating superpower and humanising a once indestructible hero.

Hugh Jackman is as reliable as ever in the role, and clearly enjoyed a pretty gruelling training regime judging by the rippling torso he flashes every five minutes as some shirt of his gets whipped off.

He also takes the character in a decidedly darker direction, addressing Mangold’s desire to evoke a Dirty Harry feel to The Wolverine.

The primarily Japanese cast is also strong, particularly Hiroyuki Sanada and Rila Fukushima as a nefarious member of the Yashida clan and an asskicking sidekick respectively.

And as for those asskicking action scenes, these are hit and miss. A daylight chase through the streets of Tokyo is particularly impressive, but a later bullet train setpiece evoked unwelcome memories of Brian DePalma’s Mission Impossible film.

And the final multi-fight climax unfortunately harked back to the overblown CGI-fest that Wolverine: Origins was.

But The Wolverine is definitely a step back in the right direction, and if you’re a big fan of the character then this may just be the Hugh Jackman shaped spin-off you were hoping for last time around.

Conor Brennan

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