Comic book films should capture the essence of the pages the colourful characters inhabit but should also reflect the process. Teams of superheroes have worked together in comics and spent time alone in their own solo spinoffs. Marvel Studios/Disney are no strangers to the formula but the other studios have failed to catch on. The Wolverine is an ace solo adventure that's a great character piece to service a larger Marvel Comics universe under the 20th Century Fox umbrella. Following the events if X-Men: The Last Stand, (and mostly forgetting X-Men Origins: Wolverine) Logan/Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) is vagrant living in the wild. An old acquaintance of Logan is dying and requests his presence in Japan to say goodbye. Soon, Logan is caught in the crossfire of a warring family.
In isolation the focus is kept completely on Logan and the character goes on a strong personal journey. Screenwriters Mark Bomback and Scott Frank get to the primal roots of the character. Logan is a wounded beast struggling with his dual personality between a man and the mutant Wolverine. Death seems to be the only release from Logan's pain, but his special healing abilities make him immortal. Bomback and Frank open a can of "be careful what you wish for" on Logan, and in Japan he becomes physically vulnerable as his powers fade. The vulnerability makes every action sequence director James Mangold constructs thrilling because every swipe of a samurai sword or gunshot could be the end. Facing death Logan could easily accept his fate but he fights to protect an innocent life and thus earns his place as a hero. There are lots of themes of fate and resurrection interwoven with Mangold's flair for action and it works most of the time. Too many explosive sequences pile up on top of each other stalling the momentum of the plot and the film dawdles in quieter moments; Mangold never gets the balance to work cohesively.
Jackman is physically impressive filling the claws and easily removable shirts of Logan. The rage that explodes from Jackman is awesome but he's always aware of the comic origins of the character and has a lot of fun hacking, slashing and performing superhuman feats. Projecting a mix of a Bond femme fatal & Adam West era Batman villain, Svetlana Khodchenkova has a wild time as the chief mutant troublemaker. Tao Okamoto and Rila Fukushima are good supports kicking butt and shining in the tender moments alongside Jackman.
The Wolverine is like discovering a rollicking good lost story from a beloved character. It's a good little character piece that will have you swiping at everything with your invisible Wolverine claws for days.
[rating=3] and a half
Cameron Williams - follow Cam on Twitter here: @popcornjunkies