Hugh Jackman reprises his X-Men role in a welcome addition to the Marvel Comics universe: a dramatic film that doesn’t lean on too many special effects or mutant powers.
“The Wolverine,” Marvel Comics’ newest film, won’t completely wow dedicated fans, but it will please them. The X-Men’s most recognizable protagonist, Wolverine (Hugh Jackman), returns to save the day in Japan when a familiar face from the past summons him.
Naturally, the meeting doesn’t go smoothly as the indestructible Wolverine finds himself in harm’s way. Wolverine’s various red badges of courage include getting shot at point blank, stabbed, beaten, poisoned, heart failure, and at the beginning, surviving an atomic blast during World War II.
Director: James Mangold
Starring: Hugh Jackman, Tao Okamoto, Rila Fukushima, Hiroyuki Sanada, Svetlana Khodchenkova, Hal Yamanouchi, Famke Janssen
Running time: 126 minutes
Budget: $120 million
It’s a thrilling ride, however, it’s one that doesn’t rely on an abundance of mutants to battle it out. No special effects or mutant powers to show off. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but this is, for the most part, grounded in reality.
Except for the man made of adamantium.
Despite being god-like, Wolverine feels the burden that soldiers who’ve seen too much war action face. The killing, the struggles, the nightmares, it’s a life Wolverine wants to leave behind. He can’t because the deceased Jean Grey (Famke Janssen) haunts Wolverine.
“The Wolverine” takes place sometime after the most recent “X-Men” sequel, the disappointing “X-Men: The Last Stand,” a movie that should have left a foul taste in any comic books fan’s mouth.
Like every Marvel movie, make sure to stay after the credits for something extra; the events at the end of “The Wolverine” is the best reveal of any comic book film so far. It is so good, it almost makes up for the dreadful “Last Stand,” erasing the garbage that director Brett Ratner spewed upon us.
James Mangold, “The Wolverine’s” director, handles this X-Men installment with class, taking the audience around the beautiful locales of Japan, but getting heavy handed when the film needs to. Make no mistake, there’s enough action to entice even a casual fan.
The supporting characters and villains aren’t memorable. They aren’t weak though. “The Wolverine” survives on the acting chops of Jackman. He’s a true leading man and definitely one of those actors who is irreplaceable as Wolverine. Credit must be given to Jackman’s physique — the guy’s just as pumped as he was when he first played Wolverine in the original “X-Men.” That was 13 years ago.
Speaking of physiques, props to Janssen. She sports an uncommon amount of cleavage in her sleepwear (numerous scenes in this film showcase her). Janssen is less than three years away from 50 years old.
The “X-Men” franchise has recovered nicely since “The Last Stand.” “X-Men Origins: Wolverine,” “X-Men: First Class” and now “The Wolverine” are welcome additions until the next full-fledged mutant title, 2014’s “X-Men: Days of Future Past.”