Even though Hugh Jackman’s The Wolverine fell short at the box office this weekend, the movie marked a significant improvement over the eye cancer that was X-Men Origins: Wolverine.
Outside of a third act that makes some weird, logic-be-damned choices, overall The Wolverine succeeds with its character-driven set pieces and engaging emotional stakes – setting a high mark for the X-Men franchise.
Here’s a quick look at the best – and worst – from Wolverine’s latest.
Wolverine in WWII
The Wolverine immediately establishes its Batman Begins-like tone in its opening moments, which depict the bombing of Hiroshima from the POV of an imprisoned Wolverine. A perfect blue sky is bisected by incoming B-17s moments before they drop the atom bomb. The largely dialogue-free sequence introduces Wolverine to a young Yashida, the man Logan saves from the nuclear fallout – the man who ultimately becomes Wolverine’s enemy.
Wolverine: 1, Canadian Bear Hunter: 0
Years after the events of X3, we find Wolverine sporting a hobo’s beard and shaggy hair, living in the Canadian wilderness and occasionally coming to the aid of grizzly bears (naturally). When a hunter uses poisoned arrows to take down one of Logan’s furry friends, Wolverine pays the guy a visit at a bar and proceeds to ruin his day. This scene plays out like a Western, perfectly capturing the character’s lone wolf, do-gooder sensibilities.
Bullet Train Fight
Director James Mangold and his team reach near perfection with this inspired action sequence, which pits Wolverine against one very brave/stupid yakuza atop a Japanese bullet train. Rocketing down the rails at 300 mph, with nothing but roaring winds and the snikt of adamantium for a score, Wolverine slashes his way into one of this summer’s most inventive and exciting action scenes. Hands down, so to speak, it’s his best fight since battling Lady Deathstrike in X2.
The Adventures of Wolverine and Yukio
The relationship between Wolverine and his new mutant friend, the badass Yukio, is worthy of its own spin-off. Played by newcomer Rila Fukushima, Yukio’s mutant ability allows her to foresee only one part of a person’s life – their death. The film deftly explores the tragedy that comes with such clairvoyance and that, coupled with the actors’ on=screen chemistry, makes Yukio a welcome addition to Wolverine’s big-screen universe.
That End Credits Tag…
Fans of the X-Men universe will squeal at how The Wolverine sets up the next X-Men film, Days of Future Past. The less said about this scene, the better.
Why Wolverine has been called to Japan to have his powers taken away boils down to nothing more than one man’s greedy obsession to live forever. But the movie takes a very convoluted path to get to reveal such a dramatically simple motive, involving yakuza, corrupt political officials, corporate double-talk and a giant adamantium-forged samurai robot.
Wolverine Performs Heart Surgery… on Himself
So Wolverine has a metal spider thing crawling around his heart that inhibits his powers. And that’s really all the rationale the movie offers as to why our hero must perform open-heart surgery on himself to remove it – while Yukio sword fights a villain in the same room. Why Yukio draws her attacker closer to Wolverine mid surgery, instead of away, is just one of many head-scratching missteps in this sequence.
Jean Grey’s Ghost Cleavage
What starts as an economic way to recap Wolverine’s guilty conscience over the murder of Jean Grey becomes an increasingly weird plot device, as Grey appears to Wolverine to dish out Greek Chorus-like commentary on his current emotional and moral state. Manifesting to Logan while he is awake and asleep, Grey only appears in a nightgown for some reason, showing off some very distracting ghost cleavage. The character’s role only makes us wish that the filmmakers kept her confined to the film’s opening setup.
The mutant Viper feels completely forced and out of place. She spits out exposition before literally spitting some type of misty venom (new band name, called it!) at people that either kills them or just really bothers them, depending on whatever the plot requires. The character’s mustache-twirling final moments make for the kind of stuff that plagued comic book films of the late ‘90s. Yikes.
That Third Act…
Oh boy. If you like your character-driven comic book adaptations to devolve into a fight inside an evil lab with an endless supply of levels – full of random plot twists and choices that negate a lot of the movie’s rules and logic up to that point – then this third act is all yours. It’s not the worst thing ever made, but it’s definitely its cousin.
Now you tell us... what was the best and worst of The Wolverine?