To Be or Not To Be Mortal
The Wolverine, a sequel to X-Men: The Last Stand, shows my favorite mutant in a very dark place for most of the movie. Although Hugh Jackman still commands the screen as Logan/Wolverine, his animal magnetism seems muted here because of the loneliness and suffering his character is going through. In fact, Logan looks like a down-and-out caveman early on. (Thankfully, he cleans up nicely later in the film!) Jackman certainly excels at convincing us of Loganís deeply troubled feelings. We canít help sympathizing with our hero because all his fellow mutants are gone, plus many regrets fill his mind and his dreams. As a result of his self-healing powers, no physical injury can harm him, but the psychological and emotional scars are another thing entirely. So Logan tries to keep from getting close to anyone or becoming involved in any major way. However, the best laid plans of man -- and mutant -- do sometimes go awry, and things change for Logan when he gets lured to Japan by a man he once saved from an atomic bomb blast.
This man, now a wealthy tycoon, claims to have found a way to make Logan mortal, which is something he yearns to be. The rest of the film deals with Logan as a fish out of water struggling to find his way in Japan while using his dwindling mutant powers to save Mariko (Tao Okamato) the tycoonís lovely granddaughter. Luckily, he acquires a self-appointed female body guard named Yukio (Rila Fukushima), who comes across like a force of nature in her fight sequences. Logan definitely needs someone like Yukio, for he must face underworld criminals, samurai warriors, the Japanese Mafia, hordes of Ninjas, the deadly Viper (Svetlana Khodchenkova), and Marikoís overly ambitious father (Hiroyuki Sanada).
Iím pleased that much of this film was shot in Japan. It gives the movie lots of wonderful atmosphere, which director James Mangold (Kate and Leopold) and cinematographer Ross Emory (The Cave) take full advantage of. And it provided the opportunity to include one of the most exciting sequences of the year -- a villain and Wolverine fighting on top of Japan's high-speed bullet train. How cool is that! Still, I think itís best I didnít see the 3-D or IMAX version. My blood pressure probably would have gone through the ceiling watching the thrilling bullet train action in 3-D or on a bigger screen.
I should also mention that Wolverine looks more visceral and physical than ever in The Wolverine. Jackmanís physical training and diet have paid off! He has the best physique ever here. His claws have even been redesigned with more cuts and angles especially for this film, and the stunts appear more gritty and grounded in reality.
So how does Jackman feel about this new Wolverine flick? In an interview for ďEntertainment Weekly,Ē Jackman said he doesnít feel that viewers understood his character in X-Men Origins: Wolverine, so he wanted to make sure they DO with The Wolverine. Iíd have to argue with him -- because I definitely understood Wolverineís character in Origins and thoroughly enjoyed Jackmanís work in that terrific film. But, hey, Iím an avid Hugh Jackman fan, so my reviews of his performances (except in Van Helsing) should be read with that in mind.
(Released by 20th Century Fox and rated PG-13 for sequences of intense sci-fi action and violence, some sexuality and language.)
For more information about The Wolverine, go to the Internet Movie Data Base or Rotten Tomatoes website.