Get ready for an action-packed, insert-movie-description-cliché this July Twenty-Snikth. The Wolverine is ready to claw its way to the top of the popcorn heap, with the always-impressive Hugh Jackman reprising his role as X-fans’ favorite feral phenom.
Set after the climactic collapse that was X-Men: The Last Stand, The Wolverine follows Logan into his self-imposed exile, having dropped his heroic X-mantle out of guilt from the death of his love, Jean Grey, at his hands. Leading a stark, lonely existence in the wilderness, with only the local fauna, his own nightmares and whiskey for company, Logan is sought out by Yukio (Rila Fukushima), a red-haired femme fatale who serves Yashida (Haruhiko Yamanouchi), the soldier Logan had saved from the nuclear weapon dropped on the beaches of Nagasaki.
Yashida, now a technology magnate in Tokyo, is on his deathbed and seeks an audience with the man who saved his life under the pretense of saying farewell. Not one to deny a dying man his wish, Logan makes the trip to the Land of the Rising Sun to find his friend frail and forlorn under the care of the mysterious Dr. Green (Svetlana Khodchenkova), withering away before the eyes of his loving granddaughter, Mariko (Tao Okamoto), and grim son, Shingen (Hiroyuki Sanada).
It seems Yashida’s request was not all pleasantries, as he offers to take Logan’s regenerative abilities as if lifting a curse from his one-time savior. Shortly after being rebuffed, Yashida bites it in the middle of the night, just one more ghost to haunt the hirsute hero. With Logan set to return to solitude, things go sideways when the Japanese mob crashes the funeral to make off with Mariko, who happens to be Yashida’s heir. Aided by Mariko’s childhood friend Harada (Will Yun Lee), who’s quite handy with a bow, Logan keeps the princess out of harm’s way, but how long can one man, whose healing ability is mysteriously absent, protect his fair lady against the Yakuza and who-the-hell-knows who else?
The Wolverine gives fans what they wanted out of the X-Men Origins: Wolverine, a kickass Wolvie flick that doesn’t destroy all the conventions of the character they love. Billed as a standalone installment rather than a sequel, it’s based on a Wolverine comic book arc created by the revered Chris Claremont and Frank Miller duo in the early 1980s. While a 30-year gap between the source material and production necessitated some changes, this introspective odyssey should satisfy casual fans and fanboys alike. It reclaims the emotion found woefully lacking in the previous two films (Last Stand and Origins) and explores the soul of the warrior-turned-wanderer and the demons within. Jackman is at his best, bub, and with a solid script and direction, The Wolverine may just be the breath of life the X-Films need to reignite excitement in a franchise that had lost its way.
NOTE: Speaking of excitement for the future of the franchise, be sure and stick around until midway through the credits for an X-Men: Days of Future Past teaser.