16. The Wolverine (PG-13) - Runtime: 126 minutes
Starring: Hugh Jackman, Will Yun Lee, Tao Okamoto
Director: James Mangold
Writers: Mark Bomback, Scott Frank
Apparently the much-maligned X-Men Origins: Wolverine didn't deter the studio from going ahead and making another movie about one of the most-loved superheros. I was skeptical - but the setting and cast intrigued me. There were no other big-name Hollywood actors beside Hugh Jackman and Japan seemed ripe with interesting story possibilities. And mostly this movie washes away all the sins from the past Wolverine movie and surprisingly, is probably the most refreshingly unique superhero movie to come out in a while.
What I mean by interesting is that Wolverine isn't out to save the world from nuclear catastrophe, nor is their some maniacal villain hell-bent on taking over the world, either. This film is more intimate and personal - and thankfully this more character-focused story still manages to be thrilling and emotionally satisfying. The movie starts off with Logan living in the woods, being a complete loner (and possibly nutballs) until he gets an invitation to Japan. Once he finally arrives an old man, whom he saved during World War II, asks him to give up his immortality to the old man so that Logan can live a life that finally has a conclusion and so that the dying old man can be immortal himself.
Obviously, there's a lot of secrets being hidden from Logan and once the action starts, it never lets up, really. It's actually quite thrilling and although the surprise at the end isn't all that surprising, it still was satisfying. Aside from the action, Logan himself is confronted with his own death and is still struggling with his past (basically his whole shitty romance with Jean Grey from the first trilogy). And although things end nicely, there's a vague sense that Logan still hasn't figured out his life and partly that his life will never get figured out as long as he's immortal.
I'm going to have a hard time explaining this part, but the movie had this visceral, surreal kind of tone and pace. I really can't explain it beyond that, but it just felt so different from other superhero movies. In a good way, of course! Maybe it was the way it was shot and the acting (which was superb!) but everything came together to just feel different. I can't explain it beyond that, but I bought what the movie was selling. Like I've said, the performances were great and it's pretty remarkable that 90% of the cast is all non-Hollywood folks - which just lends more credibility to this flick.
The Wolverine isn't your typical superhero movie - it doesn't tell an origin story, it's not fixated on a villain, nor is it trying to save the world. But what it lacks in cliches, it makes up for in story and character and it delivers. The action is awesome (especially that giant samurai robot at the end!). This superhero movie seems to have been lost in the shuffle this summer, but it will most definitely stand the test of time.
Rating: See It!