An explosive and effective opening sets the expectations high; thankfully, the movie continues to its momentum to the end. Flashing back to World War II, Logan saved the life of a young soldier, Yashida (Hal Yamanouchi), during the nuclear bombing of Nagasaki, shielding him with his body while getting burned to a crisp. The soldier witnessed first hand how Logan was miraculously self-healed.
In the present time, Logan lives as an isolated life in the Alaskan wilderness. He’s haunted by nightmares of his dearly departed love, Jean Grey (Dark Phoneix), whom he had to kill to save everyone when she turned dark. Blessed with self-healing power, Wolverine may be physically supreme, but emotionally scarred. Eternity has its price; one may lose his purpose in life, outlive everyone and run out of things to live for.
Logan is tracked down by a nimble, flaming-haired fighter, Yukio (Rila Fukushima), who has the ability to see the future. She brings a message from her employer, Yashida. The former World War II soldier is now a business tycoon, and dying. He has invited Logan to come to Japan so that he could say goodbye in person.
When Logan arrives in Japan, Yashida, accompanied by his mutant physician, snake-tongue Viper (Svetlana Khodchenkova), entices him with a tempting proposal, an end to his eternity by transferring his self-healing power to Yashida. This will allow Logan to live a normal life.
Yashida tells Logan that he’s not ready to die yet as he has to protect his business empire and granddaughter, Mariko (Tao Okamoto), from the Yakuza (Japanese mobs). Logan knows something is off as he catches Mariko trying to commit suicide. He refuses Yashida’s proposal, although it’s clear that something must have happened since his self-healing power has diminished while he’s fighting off mobs and ninjas during Yashida’s funeral procession.
Wounded and on the run with Mariko, Logan now has to adjust to his newfound vulnerability. With help from Yukio, who unwittingly becomes his “bodyguard” in his human state of weakness, Logan and Mariko have to figure out how to survive, uncover unsavory family ties and regain Wolverine’s power and sense of purpose as a warrior.
The movie makes full use of the Japanese locale. It’s a world of contrast between frenetic and vibrant modern Tokyo with beautiful and tranquil ancient Japan. One outstanding action sequence is the ferocious fight atop the bullet train. This sequence really shows a real sense of speed and danger. Another standout is when the ninjas shoot hundreds of arrows in the snow and target Wolverine’s back like a bullseye. The closing combat with the robot samurai is fierce and reveals a twist.
Directed by James Mangold, “The Wolverine” delivers the beloved sharp-clawed mutant’s story on an emotional and visual level. Fast-paced, the movie is engrossing not only during its action-packed sequences, but also quieter moments. The overall tone is serious, although there are sprinkles of humor.
If you’re a fan of “X-Men,” sit tight as the credit rolls. The post-credit gives a glimpse of what’s to come in the upcoming sequel of “X-Men: First Class,” which is “X-Men: Days of Future Past.” Wolverine will be back for another adventure!
Copyright (c) 2013. Nathalia Aryani.
Nathalia Aryani is a business manager, foreign language translator, film columnist and travel/lifestyle writer. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Nathalia owns a movie blog, The MovieMaven (http://sdmoviemaven.blogspot.com). Twitter: http://twitter.com/the_moviemaven