I never really gave a shit about the other X-Men. There, I said it. Don't get me wrong, the X-Men movies were all really fun and totally kick ass, but to be honest, the only two that I really cared about the whole time were Magneto and Wolverine, that's why I was so hyped to see First Class and today's movie, The Wolverine. Why? Because those were the first times (not counting the godforsaken origins movie) where these mutants were standing front and center and it was there time to shine. Sure, Magneto still had to share the screen with Professor Xavier, but it was still an interesting look into their relationship and how their different upbringings led to their different views on mankind and the world. So all we needed now was a standalone Wolverine movie and the series is prettu much golden, as long as we can bring ourselves to forgive and forget the third movie and the atrocity that was that other Wolverine movie.
So yeah, that was pretty much the task of director James Mangold when he took on the job. And how did he do? Well, let's take a look. The story is set about a year or so after the end of the original trilogy. Wolverine has left the mansion and is living in some unnamed forest, having taken a vow to never hurt another person after he was forced to kill Jean Grey. He's having a hard time living with his curse that is his immortality and has all but given up until an old acquaintance reaches out to Logan and invites him to visit his home in Japan. The person in question is a former Japanese soldier who Wolverine saved from the A bomb that hit Nagasaki while he was staying there as a POW. Nothing of what I have told you is a spoiler because #1- it's literally told to you in the first five minutes of the movie and #2- it was in all of the damn previews. Upon arriving in Japan, Wolverine is both thanked for what he did and is also offered the chance to have his rapid healing ability taken away so that he can age and eventually die like a regular human. Which, not to nitpick, but the reason for his andamantium skeletal structure is because of his rapid healing ability. Having said that, if that power were taken from him, wouldn't he just collapse? I'm a little hazy on that. If you have an explanation, feel free to leave it in the comments. So anyway, he denies the offer, but I guess that didn't matter because he got infected with something that caused his healing to become less quick and eventually stop altogether.
And here is the strength of the movie, Wolverine is finally vulnerable. I've always enjoyed watching Wolverine kicking ass but the thing that always bugged me was that it didn't matter what people threw at him, he was just going to get back up and keep fighting. I know this makes him more of a beast, but it takes away from the tension. Here, if Wolverine got shot or stabbed, he took damage, and there was a point in the movie where I thought Wolverine might actually not make it, which to me, made me care more than I did while watching movies like Iron Man 3 or The Dark Knight Rises, because in those stories, the characters were faced with the possibility of death and had come to accept the fact that they may just have to make that ultimate sacrifice. Here, Logan is being faced with that reality for the first time in his life, and that made it all the more heavy for the audience. So in the heavier, more drmatic and emotional sense, the movie florished. It's other strength is the fact that this is a purely Wolverine centered film. There are only two other mutants in the movie and even then, their roles are fairly limited. There isn't even a mention of the other X-Men. And the final thing that this movie got right was that Wolverine didn't dress up in the X-men uniform. Okay, I get that it is a part of the X-Men lore for him to wear it but I really just prefer him fighting in just the wife-beater and jeans. I don't know why, but that is just way more badass to me. Maybe it's because Wolverine is a guy that very much marches to his own tune and having a uniform is just out of character for him.
Now where did this movie falter? Actually, it didn't really start to fall apart until the very end, but even then, it wasn't as bad as you would think. The end battle is between Wolverine and a giant robot suit thing called the Silver Samurai, which is like Optimus Prime if he had a japanese son. My only problem with this is that the only other enemies that Wolverine had to go up against for the rest of the movie are Yakuza assassins and ninjas. And to me, that was far more interesting because even though none of these guys had special powers and nond of them were mutants, they were still pretty badass and presented a very real threat. So for me, if the climax was just Wolverine going up against like fifty of these ninjas and probably have to fight Lord Shingen at the end of it, that would have been just fine. There's also a twist at the end of the movie in which we learn who the real villain is, and it's one of those twists where you really learned to like a guy because of how wise and how respectable he was, but then his true colors are revealed and I just said "Oh, you were an ass hole the whole time". And for a movie that was so deep and made Wolverine much more complex than we're used to seeing him have this kind of watered down ending that you'd expect to see in a typical comic book movie was kind of a let down.
With all of that said though, Wolverine is finally given the badass movie that fans and casual movie goers have always wanted to see from him.
Final verdict: B+, buy it on blu-ray