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Review: “The Wolverine” cuts deep

Review: “The Wolverine” cuts deep

Review: “The Wolverine” cuts deep
July 26
10:32 2013

Preston Barta / Film Critic

Rating: 3.5/5

In 2009, Twentieth Century Fox granted fans their wish for a Wolverine spinoff with “X-Men Origins: Wolverine.” But what was presented as a thrilling flick, featuring the celebrated clawed mutant, wound up being a bitter disappointment to both fans and critics.

With “The Wolverine,” Marvel and Twentieth Century Fox aim to redeem themselves and take another stab at steering this outrageously popular character in the right direction. While the film’s claws still aren’t as sharp as we might have hoped, there is enough excitement and thrill to merit its existence, as it entertains fans and casual filmgoers alike.

Based on a 1982 comic that Frank Miller (“Sin City”) had a hand in creating, and taking place after “X-Men: The Last Stand” 2006), “The Wolverine” finds our titular hero out of his element in Japan. Summoned by an old friend whom he saved at the bombing of Nagasaki, Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) becomes entangled in a conflict that forces him to face his own demons.

One of the major factors that sets “The Wolverine” apart from most comic book movies is, like Christopher Nolan of “The Dark Knight” trilogy, director James Mangold (“3:10 to Yuma,” 2007) concentrates more on the character and less on keeping his audiences hooked with mindless action.

Every scene of action has a real sense of danger, especially a breathtaking scene involving a bullet train, because Mangold takes the time to explore his title character’s self-experience and torment— his ability to heal himself and outlive everyone that he has ever cared for or loved. Finding purpose after facing true vulnerability adds so much to the film and character.

Steely bodyguard Yukio (Rila Fukushima) accompanies Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) to a sacred event in "The Wolverine." Photos courtesy of Twentieth Century Fox.

Jackman delivers his best performance as Wolverine to date. Screenwriters Christopher McQuarrie, Mark Bomback and Scott Frank did an excellent job of giving Jackman a quality script to complement his gruff attitude. Jackman isn’t the only actor graced by a deft pen— much of the supporting cast, with one glaring exception, is well-written and superbly acted, especially Rila Fukushima’s cherry kool aid haired Yukio,

Mangold paces his story well, bringing a refreshing subtlety to a genre known for its preference of flash over substance. Wolverine and his foe, Viper, played by Svetlana Khodchenkova (“Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, 2011”), are practically the only mutants in the entire film, and the story is all the better for it.

Unfortunately, the movie runs out of steam as it enters its laughably cartoonish third act. Stymied by a ham-fisted villain whose role feels imported from a B-movie, “The Wolverine” spins out of control into a substandard conclusion, as the poorly written Viper plays an ever-increasing role in the plot, and the title character battles against a computer generated Silver Samurai. Even though the film is following the storyline of the popular comic book series by Miller and Chris Claremont, the amount of talent brought on board to pen the script should have resulted in a more engrossing ending.

Nonetheless, the latest entry to Marvel’s franchise is satisfying enough, especially in the midst of summer blockbuster season. We wanted a new, decently executed Wolverine movie, and Mangold has presented a movie that is precisely that.

Side note: Stay after the credits.

“The Wolverine” is in theaters today.

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