Judy Thorburn's Movie Reviews

The Wolverine (3D) | Hugh Jackman, Famke Jenssen, Rila Fukushima, Ken Yamamura, Tao Okamoto, Svetlana Khodchenkova | Review

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3sm The Flick Chicks movie rating for this film is MEDIOCRE Judy Thorburn


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3lg The Flick Chicks movie rating for this film is MEDIOCRE

The Wolverine

A muscular, super fit Hugh Jackman returns to embody The Wolverine in the follow up to 2009's X Men Origins: Wolverine which gave movie audiences the backstory of The Wolverine and what led to his transformation from a mortal named John Logan into the immortal adamantium clawed hero. Titled simply, The Wolverine, this film marks Jackman's sixth turn as Wolverine and the second solo outing for the breakout character from the X Men film franchise.

Set in the present, we find an angst, guilt ridden Logan, haunted by the death of the love of his life, fellow mutant, Jean Grey (Famke Jenssen, appearing in Logan's recurring ghostly nightmares), living a self imposed solitary life in the Canadian wilderness, when he is tracked down by flame haired Yukio,(scene stealing newcomer, Rila Fukushima, looking remarkably like an anime character come to life), a petite but powerful female warrior from Japan.  She asks Logan to accompany her back to her homeland to meet with her employer, Yashida, a man whose life he saved during World War II.

The former Japanese prison camp soldier (played, as a young man by Ken Yamamura) became a billionaire tech magnate, but now, decades later, as an old man (Hal Yamanouchi) lays dying of cancer.  Not ready to leave this realm, Yashida says he can give Logan something he has longed for, making him mortal, in exchange for his healing powers.

Logan turns down the offer, but before he can say good riddance, finds himself drawn into a tangled mess involving a power play that puts the life of Yashida's, beautiful granddaughter, Mariko, (Tao Okamoto) in danger. As heir to Yashida's fortune, she is set to be the most powerful woman in Japan and is targeted by her own father, Shingen (Hiroyuki Sanada), political forces, the Yakuza (Japanese Mob), Samurais and Ninja warriors.

Of course, Logan goes into protect mode with the help of the kick ass Yukio, his self appointed ally and ”bodyguard”  who is Mariko's lifelong friend and can see the future.

If battling several vicious rival opponents aren't enough, a dangerous and even more lethal enemy is lurking about on the sidelines ready to make a move. It soon becomes apparent that Yashida's so called “oncologist”, (Svetlana Khodchenkova) a sexy, statuesque blonde, is really a venomous lizard like mutant known as the Viper, who is after Logan/Wolverine with the intent of taking away his healing powers.

When it comes to action, there is no shortage and director James Mangold (Knight and Day, Walk The Line, 3:10 to Yuma) fills the quota with several well orchestrated combat sequences, chases, and shootouts. The most exciting, edge of your seat thrills takes place on top of a speeding bullet train that brings to mind a similar scene from the recent reimagined, retelling of The Lone Ranger that wound up being a box office dud.

The problem with The Wolverine is the overly complicated script by Mark Bomback, Scott Frank, and Christopher McQuarrie. There are just too many characters (including Mariko's treacherous fiance and a mysterious archer) and underlying schemes to keep up with, not to mention plenty of deceits, twists and turns.

Hugh Jackman is, as always, charismatic, easy on the eyes and sinks his teeth, or rather claws into his portrayal of the troubled superhero that fans have come to love. It is role that fits the hunky actor like a glove.  However, I would have preferred if the story dealt more with Logan/Wolverine's emotional pain and inner struggle against his own immortality, rather than focusing on saving the damsel in distress.

That's my take, based strictly on the movie. In any case, die hard X Men comic book fans and purists will have to decide if The Wolverine makes the grade. And yes, there is at least one other installment on the way. Sit through the credits for a bonus scene that offers a teaser for a future episode in the continuing saga.