Overview: Logan emerges from seclusion to travel to Japan in order to visit a dying man from his past. 2013; 20th Century Fox, rated PG-13; 126 minutes.
Wolverine the Weary: When Wolverine falls for the ladies, he falls hard, and this most recent installment introduces us to a man broken and battered as a result of Jean Grey’s death. He’s constantly plagued with the visions and guilt left in the wake of his heroic act of putting his great love out of her misery to save the world. He can’t die, and well, he’s just plain tired of being alive. This despair is clearly articulated on its own. So while it may be necessary to display the image of his fallen lover in order to fully communicate the recovery of Wolverine as a character, I think the Jean Grey cameos put a damper on an stand alone story. Most of the playful banter and sarcastic attitude we’ve come to know and love from Wolverine has vanished, replaced with a man who’s been alive long enough to feel as if he’s served his time in this world. Some viewers might be disappointed that we don’t get the same rambunctious character we’re used to, but I think this Wolverine is real and refreshing. James Mangold’s version of this story allows Hugh Jackman to flex his muscles, extend his claws, and push this character to its limits.
He Stands Alone: Another element that makes The Wolverine unique from the previous X-Men movies and the previous Wolverine attempt is the lack of other mutant characters. This chapter has a clear intent and focus, and it’s not interested in displaying a cast of heroes and villains with a variety of abilities. We only care about Wolverine and what he can do. This method creates an opening for us to learn more about the characters we do follow, both human and mutant. Mangold takes the time to flesh out each character and make every motivation apparent, which more than compensates for the occasional lull in superpower infused battles.
Out With A Bang: The only time The Wolverine stumbles is at the end, where it attempts to make up for a lack of CGI and highly destructive battles. The final thirty minutes feel like they’re from a completely different movie. This abrupt change interrupts the flow and leaves the viewer with a disappointing payoff to the investment made in the story and the characters.