A very entertaining film, despite a couple of flaws later on.
This was the second solo outing for Jackman as The Wolverine and after the heavily panned “Origins” film in 2011, there a lot of pressure for this movie to succeed. Based on the limited Wolverine series of 1982 comics, the story took the character to Japan with a completely separate story angle. It took place after the events of “The Last Stand” but really had no other major tie-ins helping it feel like a true standalone movie.
In this story, Logan is scarred from the loss of Jean Grey, he is living in seclusion in the wilderness until he is approached by a mutant summoning him to Japan to meet with a friend from his past. Once there he will be confronted with a tough decision, discover he has lost his abilities to heal properly, will have to battle endless waves of ninjas, as well as his own inner demons, while trying to save the life of an innocent woman.
Without question this is my favorite Jackman performance as the Wolverine. This film gave the character the most depth, and a large range of emotions. I mean he has been great in all of his outings as the Wolverine but this one stuck out to me, mainly because I think Jackman is at his best in the role when his character is dealing with strong emotional conflicts.
I thought the action was fantastic. Jackman embraced the physical challenges and it showed in the choreography. There were some appealing fight sequences that implemented martial-arts very well and resulted in some adrenaline pumping moments, that were captured with some excellent camera-work.
Also, despite the couple of larger action set-pieces, for the most part this movie felt like a much more grounded comic-book film. One that passed on the some of the spectacle, to replace it with some fast paced more traditional action. Something I thought worked perfectly for this story.
The bullet train scene was nail-biting, and very well crafted. The entire sequence that takes place at the funeral was well orchestrated, captured from some great angles, and it all effectively pulls you into the chaos. Something that I think was elevated by the efforts of Jackman to put in the physical work, as well as the rest of the talented cast of characters, that were all highly skilled in their own right.
Overall this was a beautifully shot film and the direction of James Mangold was on point. He captures the locations and setting in a very visually appealing way, and it only amplified the story more in my opinion. A story that I found to be very interesting and highly thought provoking. It had a unique plot and didn’t follow the common story-arcs, which gave it some fun unpredictability.
This story delivers a couple laughs, loads of Jackman charm, tension and some suspense, a decent amount of dramatic intrigue, and loads of action. All the while never feeling like it was trying too hard. Now that was through roughly 80% of this movie.
The last 20% is where I had some issues. Mostly revolving around the third-act climax that did not feel fitting to the story that led up to it. While most of this movie felt like a fresh adventure for the character, the final battle of this film felt very routine, overly cartoonish, and much MUCH lighter than the darker tone of the entire film prior to it.
I guess I’m just trying to say that, while this script did follow some genre tropes, it still created a uniquely ambitious story-line that was effective in what it wanted to be. While the final battle this film showcases could be cut in pasted into a dozen other comic-book movies and it was disappointing. It was almost like this movie felt like it needed to finish off with some spectacle when it was honestly more impactful without it.
It was an entertaining film that was filled with adventure, and a great performance from Jackman, but it felt like it played it safe in the third-act, and the result was a captivating movie that just ends with a fizzle.