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Film Review – Wolverine

Directed by James Mangold
Screenplay by Mark Bomback and Scott Frank
Cast: Hugh Jackman, Hal Yamanouchi, Famke Janssen, Rila Fukushima, Hiroyuki Sanada, Tao Okamoto
Rating ****

This is the second Wolverine movie, following the X-Men origins: Wolverine. It begins in 1945. Logan, the Wolverine/Logan (Hugh Jackman), is held in a Japanese military camp. Suddenly the camp is thrown into panic because a nuclear blast approaches fast. Four officers kneel and start to stab themselves one after the other, but the fourth, Yashida ( Hal Yamanouchi)is too scared and is rescued by Logan, who shields him from the blast.
Fast forward to the present. Logan lives as a hermit in Yukon, tormented by hallucinations of Jean Grey (Famke Janssen), whom he was forced to kill (at the end of X-Men: The Last Stand). He is located by Yukio (Rila Fukushima), a mutant with the precognitive ability to foresee people’s deaths, on-behalf of Yashida, now the CEO of a technology zaibatsu, a large Japanese business conglomerate. Yashida, who is dying of cancer, wants Logan to accompany Yukio to Japan so that he may repay his life debt.
In Tokyo, Logan meets Yashida’s son, Shingen (Hiroyuki Sanada), and granddaughter, Mariko (Tao Okamoto). There, Yashida offers to transfer Logan’s healing abilities into his own body, thus saving Yashida’s life and relieving Logan of his immortality, which Logan views as a curse. Logan refuses and prepares to leave the following day. That night, Yashida’s physician Dr. Green (aka Viper) injects something into Logan’s body, but Logan thinks he was just dreaming.

The next morning, Logan is informed that Yashida has died. At the funeral, Yakuza gangsters attempt to kidnap Mariko, but Logan and Mariko escape together into the urban sprawl of Tokyo. Logan is shot and his wounds do not heal as quickly as they should. After fighting off more Yakuza on a bullet train, Logan and Mariko hide in a local romance hotel. Meanwhile, Yashida’s bodyguard Harada meets with Dr. Green who, after showing her poisonous abilities on him, demands he find Logan and Mariko.
Logan and Mariko, have in the mean time travelled to Yashida’s house in Nagasaki, and the two slowly fall for each other.
Meanwhile, Yukio has a vision of Logan dying, and goes to warn him. Before Yukio arrives, Mariko is captured by the Yakuza ninjas. Logan and Yukio confront Mariko’s fiance, corrupt Minister of Justice Noburo Mori (Brian Tee) and now Logan must try to find Mariko before she is tortured or killed. With his healing abilities gone, Dr Green out to extract his abilities and ninjas sent to kill him, the journey will not be an easy one.
This was a very enjoyable movie. I am a fan of the X-men series, having grown up watching the cartoons. It was ideal for me when Hollywood started a series of movies based on the animations. I, also am a big fan of Hugh Jackman, from his performances in the movies Australia and Les Miserables. He is definitely the perfect wolverine, and will also continue in the 3rd sequel coming out in 2017. The movie was simple, settings were good and clear and the picture quality was great. I really enjoyed the simple storyline of emotions driving the actual mutants. I really felt that I connected with the characters although it seemed a bit over the top at some points. But I saw this as an attempt to meet the high standards of the first of the Wolverine series.
I also did not get it how Logan and Mariko could fall in love so quickly since they barely spent more than a few days together. Logan was supposedly still fighting his feelings for Jean Grey, and Mariko had a fiancé, whom she didn’t love but regardless. Taking a less positive view, David Edelstein, a movie reviewer for New York News and Politics Magazine, www.nymag.com, posted on www.vulture.com had this to say: “Apart from a scene that features cinema’s most prodigious (and appalling) bit of self-surgery, the plotting is mechanical, the dialogue barely functional (it’s a surprise to see the witty Scott Frank among the screenwriters), and the other action scenes a hash. The idea of Wolverine fighting off waves of yakuza and ninjas amid shoji screens is tantalizing, but Mangold bungles the staging and cuts so fast that you can’t even savour their silhouettes.”

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