"The Wolverine," released July 26 by Marvel Entertainment and 20th Century Fox, is the latest film in the now 13-year-old X-Men film series, which once again features Hugh Jackman reprising his role as the titular character.
Jackman, who has now played the angry Canadian mutant for the fifth time, not including his brief appearance in "X-Men: First Class," performs well in this continuation of the series as his character Logan heads to Japan and comes face-to-face with his past after years of running from it.
Logan was born with a healing factor so powerful that it prevents him from even aging, and bone claws that protrude from between his knuckles. He lost his memory after his skeleton was grafted with an unbreakable metal, adamantium.
A natural fighter, Logan, as he comes to be called after his amnesia, traveled the world for years and visited Japan during the bombing of Nagasaki, where the movie begins.
Picking up sometime after "X-Men: The Last Stand," and well after his origins story, the now famous X-Man is quite content hiding from the world in Canada and befriending the wildlife when he is forced from hiding by Yukio (Rila Fukushima), a mutant with the ability to see others deaths, and back into the outside world he has come to hate.
Taking place almost entirely in Japan, the film makes use of much of the Japanese culture and history, although the story still revolves around Jackman's character. Playing opposite Tao Okamoto, who plays Mariko, the granddaughter of a wealthy businessman on the verge of death, and teaming with Rila Fukushima, Jackman claws and tears his way through his Asian enemies, all while being tormented by the memory of his past love, Jean Grey. Grey, played by Netherlands native Famke Janssen, is a constant reminder to the Wolverine of his violent past, a past he wants nothing more than to forget.
The addition of Janssen, although not necessary to move the plot forward, humanizes and deepens a character many may know simply as a highly evolved killing machine, and ultimately makes an important statement about the importance and necessity of letting go of the past.
While slow to get started, the movie still takes advantage of its $120 million budget to engage in the elaborate and prolonged fight sequences that only large, summer blockbusters can provide. While many avid comic book readers will be inclined to see the movie, it is still able to entertain any average movie lover with an extra $8 lying around.
While unlikely to win at the Sundance Film Festival, it is important for audiences to simply appreciate the movie for what it is and not try too hard to poke holes in some of the logic and fictional technology.
"The Wolverine" turns out to be a bright spot in an altogether dull summer movie season. Through the rich and vibrant scenery, exciting action scenes and respectable acting, the movie turns out to be quite a worthy excursion from the home to the theater.
Watching Hugh Jackman slash open a ninja's chest has never looked quite so good.