Hugh Jackman was truly inspired casting for the role of Logan aka Wolverine in Bryan Singer’s X-Men film. His performance was full of the intensity and formidable presence the character is well known for. He quickly became popular with fans of the character and now he returns to that role in this sequel to the film that chronicled his backstory X-Men Origins: Wolverine. The new film known simply as The Wolverine focuses on Logan’s travels to Japan. A journey that brings many tribulations and the story is well known to fans of the comic books.
Logan is contacted by an old friend called Yashida (played by Hal Yamanouchi) whose life he saved during World War 2. Yashida, who is now a Yakuza crime boss invites Logan to Japan for a reunion which he accepts. Logan is trying to uncomplicate his life and avoid conflict and he no longer uses his codename Wolverine. Unfortunately carnage and tragedy seem to follow him wherever he goes as his trip to Japan becomes a nightmare. Yashida wants to thank Logan for saving his life so he offers him a cure for his immortality. Logan’s body has remarkable and superhuman healing properties that make him extremely hard to kill. He also stopped aging once he reached manhood and he is doomed to watch all the people he cares about grow old and die as he goes on. His dilemma is similar to the fate that plagues Connor McLeod in Russell Mulcahy’s eighties fantasy film Highlander. Both films treat immortality as a curse not a blessing and the cure to that immortality is seen as a great prize or treasure. Logan gladly accepts the cure but things quickly turn sour soon after as he becomes a target for Yashida’s son Shingen (played by veteran actor Hiroyuki Sanada.) Shingen wants to kill Logan who is now as vulnerable as a regular man. Logan will have to try to stay alive in order to defeat Shingen and the legendary Silver Samurai (played by Will Yun Lee.) Will Logan’s cure last or will his powers return? Comic book movie fans will have to watch the film to find out.
The idea of giving Wolverine a cure that turns him into a mortal is a good one. An indestructible man is rather boring as nothing is ever a threat to him. The writers of The Wolverine were wise to incorporate this plot device into the story as it adds something new. The action scenes in the film should be more thrilling because the audience knows Wolverine can be killed. The Silver Samurai also possesses a sword that can cut through any steel so even Wolverine’s adamantium bones are vulnerable. Setting the movie in Japan is also a nice idea and it adds another new element to the film. Wolverine was a drifter and quite similar to what the Japanese samurai used to call a Ronin (a warrior without a master and not affiliated to any clan or group.) He was also a homage to the Man With no Name character archetype made famous by Clint Eastwood in Sergio Leone’s Dollars trilogy. A warrior with exceptional fighting skills who says little and drifts from one town to another. He finally found a home with the X-Men but retained his wild ways and fighting spirit.
The trailer is well crafted and it does a good job of teasing the viewer with a few minor plot details. The main antagonists are only briefly shown and the action choreography looks impressive. The film may also eschew some of the CGI effects that were so common in the previous film as The Wolverine has less characters with special powers. Good fight choreography and stunt work seem to be the priority here which is good and also quite old-school. The film is directed by James Mangold who has a knack for directing films about tough guys with his remake of 3:10 to Yuma and also Copland. The supporting cast includes Famke Janssen who returns as Logan’s former love interest Jean Grey and Rila Fukishima as Yashida’s daughter Yukio. The music in the trailer is also rather dramatic and it has a real impact. The tempo increases as Wolverine goes through the ringer and takes a few beatings while fighting Shingen’s mooks.
The Wolverine has all the right ingredients for an enthralling superhero movie. Everything looks good on paper and the trailer is intriguing. The film will be released on July 26th so have a look at the trailer and share your thoughts.