Logan is releasing across the UK this week, therefore, I thought it might be fun to check out Hugh Jackman’s last solo outing as Logan in The Wolverine (2013) in order to prepare. As if I’d look at Origins. Soon, my pet, soon…
Director: James Mangold
Cast: Hugh Jackman; Tao Okamoto; Rila Fukushima; Hiroyuki Sanada; Famke Janssen
Synopsis: After the events of X-Men: The Last Stand, a remorseful Logan, plagued by nightmares, travels to Japan at the behest of an old friend. Suddenly stripped of his healing factor, he must battle against deadly samurai, ninjas and, ultimately, himself in a bid to finally find meaning in his life.
Run Time: 2hr 06min
I had generally positive feelings when I first went to see this movie. Having experienced X-Men Origins: Wolverine (2009), I was certain that there was no way in hell this could be as bad as that (I might review that heap of ass some other time). Thankfully, my instincts were right and this largely turned out to be the film that Origins should have been. With Mangold at the helm (known previously for Walk the Line (2005) and 3:10 To Yuma (in 2007)), we were finally given a more in-depth study of Wolverine, focusing on him more as a tragic, troubled character as set out by Bryan Singer’s X-Men (2000) and X-2 (2003).
This more sombre and serious tone suits the character well and fleshes him out as a more relatable man. Hugh Jackman returns as our eponymous hero and performs better than ever as both Wolverine and my gigantic man-crush… I mean c’mon, the guy’s the whole package, people! In the first act especially, you can feel the weight of sadness and regret on him as he shuns the civilised world, choosing instead to live alone in the wild Canadian forests. This is a man who has seen some serious shit, but there’s no easy way out for him because he’s essentially immortal. It’s a great premise for the character and one that really pays off. Not to say there isn’t humour here though, because there are some amusing moments too; it’s not all doom and gloom.
I also enjoyed the Japanese setting and how Logan is thrust into this environment and reacts to the different customs. Someone jokes that he looks like a caveman and by comparison, he really does. There is a nice balance between the clean-cut, reserved and precise Japanese characters and the gruff, unrefined Logan. This is particularly evident in his scenes with Tao Okamoto as Mariko, the granddaughter of Logan’s old friend, Yashida (Haruhiko Yamanouchi). I was also pleased to see Hiroyuki Sanada (that badass guy from The Last Samurai, 2003) here. He’s not only a great actor, but a great martial artist and, true to form, he has one particularly great action scene here.
And that’s why we’re really watching another Wolverine film isn’t it? The action. And bar a couple of scenes where the use of shaky-cam is a bit liberal, it is solid and entertaining. There’s a great, fast-paced scene on top of a bullet train, which was memorable, but my favourite is when he engages in an almost samurai-style duel, which is extremely satisfying. This is also (thankfully) a much more brutal film than previous X-Men outings. After all, we want a man who literally has giant knives protruding from his hands to be able to act like a man who has giant knives protruding from his hands. This film therefore carries a 15 rating in the UK.
Perhaps the only elements I didn’t like were the main villains and the ending. Without spoiling anything, the ‘Viper’ (Svetlana Khodchenkova) is a decent enough idea for a villain, particularly in how she can affect Logan, but her character is not really fleshed out at all and she seems to have no real motivation other than money, making her a bit bland and forgettable. As for the ending, it was a mixed bag. Aside from being predictable, it forced a fairly dramatic tonal shift in the movie back towards a more comic book-ish and fantastical feel. Elements of the ending are certainly exciting, however, there are ideas there that simply don’t match the rest of the film very well. It’s not bad, but it’s not quite up to the standard as the rest of the film.
This is a solid action flick and a pretty great Wolverine movie. For all its flaws, it’s still a highly enjoyable film that provides much needed depth to a beloved character. Jackman proves, once again, that he IS this generation’s definitive Wolverine and I can’t wait to see what he’s got in his (supposed) final performance in Logan. If you’re a Wolverine or X-Men fan, or just plain fancy a decent action movie, then you’ve come to the right place.
Are any of you guys out there excited off your tits for Logan as well? I managed to nab myself a ticket to a slightly earlier showing, so I’ll hopefully have a sweet review for that up on the 1st! As always, any constructive criticism or comments are very much appreciated. Follow me on Twitter @snakeintheplane for updates on whatever adamantium I might be writing about and I’ll see you guys when we take a look at the next Snake in the Plane!