When the cynical old movie reviewer says “Oh, boy!” at the end of a film, perhaps we have something extraordinary. Or in this case, something really cool, exciting and complicated enough to be interesting solely in terms of a twisted plot.
Most of the film takes place in Japan, a mysterious land with an impenetrable culture. For most of the time we don’t quite know who is doing what to who or why, which keeps us guessing.
Hugh Jackman carries the film on his own very broad shoulders. He is the Wolverine. The lovely Japanese actresses Tao Okamoto (in a role not very different from that of a princess in distress) and Rila Fukushima as her martial arts practicing adopted sister are good actors and great eye-candy, but their roles could, with little imagination, have been filled by any competent actress. The same goes for Svetlana Khodchenkova as the evil mutant Viper. She is a good actress in a role that is slightly written. Hugh carries the load and he does in with magnificent vigor.
Without getting too far into the story, we can say that the film begins with Wolverine slowly falling apart. He is living alone in the sub-arctic, drinking a lot and having horrible nightmares about his lost love, Jane Grey. Fans will remember that Wolverine killed Jane Grey in a previous film. That sort of thing will give a fella nightmares. By the end he has worked through his issues and the Wolverine is back and ready to rock.
X-Men fans will be over the moon for this one and the general run of the public should also like it a lot. The special effects are dramatic without overwhelming the plot. The many fight scenes are expertly choreographed, realistic and exciting.
The all-star production team brought everything together in the way that we wish all Hollywood mega-budget pictures would do. James Mangold (director of the superb “3:10 to Yuma” and “Walk the Line”) directs from a screenplay by two real pros. Writers Mark Bomback (“Live Free and Die Hard”) and Christopher McQuerrie (Oscar winner for “Usual Suspects”) bring the right combination of action and excellent, convoluted storytelling that makes “The Wolverine” a real four saw blade winner.
This is a PG-13 movie (violence by the boat load, intimated sex, no naked people) that is two hours and six minutes long. Estimates of the budget come in north of $100 million. “The Wolverine” took first place with a $55 million opening weekend and should continue to do very well.