THE WOLVERINE adapts the comic book tale that die hard fans have been waiting for, Logan in Japan. Years have past since the death of Logan's beloved Jean Grey. Since then he's left the X-Men and has been on the lam living in the wilderness. He spends his days living in a cave listing to classical music. In town he runs into some dumb hick hunters/poachers who later that evening leave a Grizzly left for dead. Later that night in a bar, Logan “kindly” tells them he did not appreciate that none to much. Wolverine the loner is awesome. It reminded me of a cross between Outlaw Josy Wales and Jeremiah Johnson.
Right before Logan breaks his “no more killing” vow, a mysterious samurai sword wielding Japanese woman scares the rednecks straight. Her name is Yukio. This bad ass chick tells Logan that he must come with her to Japan. She is the associate of one of the richest men in Japan, Yashida. Logan and Yashida have a past. They know each other from their time together in WWII. At a P.O.W. Camp just outside of Nagasaki on August 9th, 1945 the two of them both save each other from the bomb.
Yashida is dying but isn't quite ready to pay the piper just yet, or at all for that matter. Yashida wants to live forever. Ever since Logan saved his life that day in Nagasaki, Yashida has been obsessed with his healing ability. Yashida has been keeping a close watch on Logan for years. He knows the pain and toll Logan's mutant power has brought to him. He sees that the power of immortality has now become a curse to his “friend”. Yashida offers the gift of mortality in exchange for Logan's mutant healing ability. This trade seems appealing to Logan after the death of his soul mate Jean Grey. Logan declines the offer but secretly gets it taking away from him anyway.
Yashida passes away during the night. The fortune left behind all goes to Yashida's granddaughter Mariko instead of her father Shingen, who immediately tires to have her killed so he can take over the business. Even Mariko herself tries to commit suicide to spare her family the burden of her being in charge. Logan being the boy scout he is decides to protect Mariko. What lies ahead is probably the greatest challenge Wolverine has ever faced. Vulnerable and pushed to the limits, he not only faces lethal samurai steel but also a inner struggle with is own immortality.
THE WOLVERINE had me. I loved the beginning of the film. The Nagasaki scene was amazing. The scenes of Logan hiding/living in the woods was cool and interesting. Hugh Jackman said it best that Wolverine's character whole life is full of pain. So it's better that he just escapes. He can't die really. He just wants to get away from everything. I couldn't agree more. Director James Mangold said THE OUTLAW JOSY WALES was a major inspiration and quite honestly he delivered on that statement.
Things started to get even better once Logan arrives in Japan. What makes this film stand apart from the rest in the series is that it's truly a character piece. Over time that fact alone may trump my complaints about how the movie just goes off the rails in the third act. When we get to Japan, Logan starts to realize everything isn't adding up and starts to “rage” when the Yakuza try to kill him and Mariko. While all this is bad ass with an amazing action scene that starts at a funeral and ends atop of a speeding bullet train. All the inner family drama surrounding the death of Yashida and the inheritance of his fortune really starts to bog down the movie. Seriously. This sub plot went on for way too long and got boring fast.
Where the movie stubbles is in two areas. One being a certain character that goes by the name of Viper. And the second is at the climax of the film where it goes toward the clichéd comic book big action sequence instead of something more quiet and bad ass like JACK REACHER. The big action climax does not serve THE WOLVERINE very well at all. Something better paced and moodier would've fit better in my opinion. Sorry for getting ahead of myself. Let's talk about Viper
Viper has to be one of the worst characters I've seen in a X-Men film or superhero movie in a long time. Every time this character opened her mouth it made my ears bleed. No offense to the very attractive Svetlana Khodchenkova who plays Viper. She's not the problem. The problem is a poorly written character who really did not need to be in the movie at all. Every time Viper was on screen it took me out of the film.
In the grand scheme of things the problems I have with THE WOLVERINE are not deal breakers. The movie is pretty darn good. Not awesome. Awesome would be less shaky action cam and more wide angle action, more blood, and more ninjas. We'll probably never get an R-rated Wolverine movie. PG-13 X-Men adventures I understand completely; however, Wolverine solo gigs really need to be R.