Monday, July 29, 2013

Wolverine-san, big in Japan

“The Wolverine” is a solid, straightforward solo adventure, the popular titular mutant still consistently portrayed by Hugh Jackman after all these years. Thirteen years after his debut as the archetypal feral antihero in “X-Men,” the actor continues to play Logan with savage panache, but this sixth time lets him show a vulnerable, more human side to the Marvel character.

This second Wolverine movie directly connects to “X-Men: The Last Stand,” the third and least satisfying part in the original trilogy. Be that as it may, what “The Wolverine” does well is dealing with the repercussions. The deceased Jean Grey (Famke Janssen) recurringly haunts his dreams, while the world-weary Logan has been dealing with his guilt for some time in the Canadian wilderness.

Drawn out by an incident, Logan is kept from engaging in a bar brawl by a Japanese fighter, Yukio (Rila Fukushima), who dramatically ends the would-be fight, and whisks him to Japan to meet his dying friend Ichiro Yashida (Haruhiko Yamanouchi). Logan soon meets the billionaire’s granddaughter, Mariko (Tao Okamoto), who is targeted by sinister factions.

Directed by versatile filmmaker James Mangold (“Walk the Line,” “3:10 to Yuma”), “The Wolverine” benefits from the back-to-basics approach; this reinterpretation of the source material allows for a more focused characterization. Concentrating on the character’s rehabilitation and rejuvenation, the film is less flashy than 2009’s “X-Men Origins: Wolverine,” but is definitely the superior film.

Gripes like Yukio’s iffy mutant power and the drab, requisite villainy of the Viper (Svetlana Khodchenkova) aside, “The Wolverine” mostly entertains, and expands the cinematic X-universe further with the inclusion of Jean Grey and the surprising end-credits scene (it looks like it’s connecting to the rebooted X-mythology of “First Class,” as well). As a solo flick, it’s quite sturdy; taking Logan out of his element and making him adapt is always fun, a truism “The Wolverine” understands, and translates well.

No comments: