James Mangold's The Wolverine takes a different trajectory than its predecessors, opting to chronicle Logan's adventures in Japan. The beginning of the film finds Logan as a vagabond, living an isolated life of solitude. One fateful night he meets Yukio, who is there to summon Logan to Japan for an old acquaintance. Logan saved this man's life years ago and reluctantly agrees to return to Japan to grant the man's dying wish. On his arrival in Japan, Logan finds himself embroiled in a sinister plot in which his enemies and allies are hard to decipher. The Wolverine is a massive improvement over its predecessor because it's a film that understands and respects its character and fans. Wolverine is a man whose constantly fighting his inner demons and the film captures this very well. He isn't a boy scout but a warrior with a code, and the narrative wisely infuses the Japanese samurai culture into the character's mythos. One small scene that convinced me the filmmakers understood the character is when Yukio is pooring her heart out to Wolverine and he merely responds by saying "I don't have time for this shit". Wolverine has never been good with expressing his feelings but that doesn't mean he doesn't have them and I really thought Mangold and company did a great job at capturing that. Sure, the Wolverine has a good amount of action but in understanding the character it makes everything feel much more genuine. For the first two thirds of the film I was very pleased with the film but unfortunately the final act falls victim to clunky villainous character motivations and the propensity to make things overblown. The Silver Samurai character in general is absolutely wasted in this film and I really didn't think the twist revolving around Yashida was earned in the slightest. Obviously some of the science and explanations are completely nonsensical as well, but I can forgive that sort of thing. James Mangold's The Wolverine is far from perfect but it's a great step in the right direction, exploring the man behind the claws and giving a fantastic end of credits sequence that is bound to make fans of the x-men universe extremely anxious for next summer.
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