'The Wolverine' Review: Well, It's Better Than the Last One

'The Wolverine' Review: Well, It's Better Than the Last One

THE WOLVERINE

Genre: Comic Book Action

Rating: PG-13

Running Time: 126 mins.

Premise: Logan a/k/a The Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) is charged with protecting the daughter of someone he saved years ago in WWII, and has to fend off villainous threats from the likes of the Yakuza and a deathly tongued mutant called Viper.

Behind-the-ScenesBefore he jumped on to Noah, Darren Aronofsky (Black Swan) was set to direct the movie, but pulled out at the last minute.  James Mangold (Walk the Line, 3:10 to Yuma) was brought in to save the project.  Mangold and Jackman previously worked together on the forgettable romantic comedy Kate & Leopold.

The Good: Jackman is as committed to the role as he's ever been.  He loves this character, and it shows in his performance.  The story is smaller in scope and more contained than previous X-Men films, which is a relief.  It may not scream event blockbuster, but at least it has a streamlined, comprehensible plot.  Mangold directs serviceably, and achieves the right mix of gangster flick and western.  The movie's highlight is a spectacular action sequence on top of a speeding bullet train.  At that moment, The Wolverine delivers an adrenaline rush that few other movies have achieved this summer.

The Bad: Other than that train sequence, the action is rote and predictable, and has a seen-it-all-before vibe.  The movie may be in 3D, but the relationship between Wolverine and the woman he's protecting (Tao Okamoto) is strictly one-dimensional.  The filmmakers try to drum up a love story, but there's just not enough rooting interest in the audience for the two to get together.  The end - both in terms of action and character motivations - gets a little too muddled for its own good.  The movie is fine but instantly forgettable, and rather slight.  It may be time for Wolverine to hang up his solo films, and stick to the X-Men franchise, where he works best.

Should You See It?: Fans of Wolverine should see it, but if you haven't been sold on Jackman as the character by now, this won't make you a convert.  On the bright side,  it's loads better than the cinematic shitpile that was X-Men Origins: Wolverine.  Oh, and stick around for the end credits because there's a cool tease for next summer's X-Men: Days of Future Past.

Star Rating: *** out of 5 stars.

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