Hugh Jackman returns for the sixth time as the super-‘clawed’-mutant in The Wolverine, a venture that has him fighting the inner demons of doubt, guilt & betrayal, has him pondering over his fate and the promise of mortality, flaunts him in a brief but impressive bathtub scene, and of course, has him kicking ass, big time.
Here’s the plot- We’re reintroduced to Logan as a Prisoner of War in Japan prior to the termination of World War II, barely outside Nagasaki where American soldiers go totally atomic on the city. Our clawed-mutant shields a soldier Shingen Yashida, who deems it best to survive rather than submit to a honourable death in a nuclear blast. We’re later flashed forward to the modern era, and it’s been long since Logan’s bones have been fortified by Adamantium. Our favourite X-Man is breathing it out somewhere in the mountains of Yukon, aloof from the rest of the human race (believing that somehow his super-power is a threat to the society), and makes just occasional visits to the general stores for his little needs. An altercation with a hunting party marks his encounter with Yukio (Rila Fukushima), who’s been searching for Logan on behalf of the billionaire head of Yashida Corp- who’s on his deathbed and wants to thank Wolverine one last time for saving his life. But a ‘thanks’ is not the only thing he proposes. Wolverine has a chance to dash out of the prison that’s immortality, but will he? Logan refuses, Yashida breathes his last, and on his funeral is an attempt to his granddaughter Mariko (Tao Okamoto). Logan does thwart the attempt, but his self-healing powers are no longer the same.
The Wolverine offers some ‘actual’ story and comprises comparatively more developed characters, and has prolonged instances where the characters speak to each other in order to unearth the main plot. And yo! People who came to check out the Wolverine in action won’t be disappointed either, for included are some ‘real-world reasonable’ action sequences- the train-top fight sequence being my favourite pick off the whole. The ninja attack was good too.
Wolverine is undoubtedly Jackman’s second skin. Being the most popular X-Man ain’t easy, and Jacman makes sure to have the audience entertained throughout, as he’s been doing all these years. One could only wish that the highly appealing Rila Fukushima had a bit more screen-time to her name. Svetlana Khodchenkova as Viper makes a mark too.
James Mangold does contribute to the novelty in direction, but all the emotions, the projected masculinity and the touch of superheroism just don’t amalgamate together. If only the makers didn’t lose conviction and go all over-the-top in the climax, with all the unwanted CGI-veined visuals that simply cheats what the first half promised. Also, the romantic sub-plot could’ve been done away with. The first half is extremely superlative, and what comes after does very little to taint the initial awesomeness. 3D offered no additional delight, but it doesn’t abuse the movie-viewing experience either- the visuals are all too bright for that.
For all it’s worth, The Wolverine packs in the old-fashioned character-driven action genre wrapped in heavy melodrama. The last film I remember which did exactly the same thing exceedingly well has to be James Bond’s Skyfall. Just that the latter held on to conviction and offered a better climax, while the former could easily pass off as a big-budget Bollywood film (compliment!). But anyway, The Wolverine is a good experience, and is extremely exciting in parts.
P.S. Please be patient enough to sit through the credits. You won’t regret it.