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Jacqueline Monahan's Movie Reviews

The Wolverine  (3-D) | Hugh Jackman, Tao Okamoto, Famke Janssen, Rila Fukushima, Will Yun Lee | Review

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Jacqueline  Monahan

Las Vegas Round The Clock
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Jacqueline Monahan is an educator for the GEAR UP program at UNLV.
She is also an entertainment reporter for Lasvegasroundtheclock.com
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The Wolverine  (3-D) | Hugh Jackman, Tao Okamoto, Famke Janssen, Rila Fukushima, Will, Yun Lee | Review

It’s a good thing that black is his color, because Logan (Hugh Jackman) aka Wolverine spends most of his time fighting ninjas in this sequel (sort of) which follows some of the events of the 2006 film X Men: The Last Stand (sort of) in the life of the six-clawed mutant.  What’s he doing in Japan, anyway?

It all starts with his dreams. In one he’s a WWII P.O.W. in a Japanese prison camp on the very day the bomb is dropped on Nagasaki; in another he has enigmatic conversations with Jean, (Famke Janssen) the lover/mutant he had to murder for the greater good of mankind.  Heavy stuff.

The present day Logan lives a mountain man’s existence in the Canadian wilderness and looks the part.  While avenging a grizzly bear’s death in a bar, he’s approached and aided by Yukio (Rila Fukushima) who has been tracking him for the purpose of inviting him to Japan to visit old and dying acquaintance Yashida (ken Yamamura/Haruhiko Yamanouchi).

A reluctant Logan makes the journey only to be quickly ensnared in rival ninja/Yakusa battles (one on top of a speeding bullet train) revolving around Yashida’s granddaughter Mariko (Tao Okamoto), whose father Shingen (Hiroyuki Sanada) and corrupt police official fiancé Noburo Mori (Brian Tee) both want exterminated.  Family ties, my assassin!

Then there’s slinky Yashida “oncologist” Viper (Svetlana Khodchenkova) a mutant immune to all toxins although she can spread them around like peanut butter.  Her aim appears to be to rid Logan of his healing capacity and render him mortal.  Hint:  the plot would be alot less compelling if she didn’t succeed.

Harada (Will Yun Lee) Mariko’s childhood friend enters the mix as both an advocate and a foe, muddying up the waters even further.  There’s no shortage of combatants for the adamantium-based Wolverine to slice and skewer.

With battles erupting all around him, Logan gets wounded, only this time he bleeds, weakens, and doesn’t heal.  Still, he protects Mariko from the unending army of seemingly unrelated bad guys that want to kidnap/kill her.  

Everyone works for someone, so Logan must follow the trail of mayhem to uncover the uber-villain, causing him to suffer, bleed, and die along the way.  And that’s NOT a spoiler.  He gets a manicure, too, from yet another incarnation of evil.

Hugh Jackman has made Wolverine his own growling, raging, angst-filled loner, nailing the role through each of his six portrayals.  A talented supporting cast does just that – supports the stand-alone mutant as if they were his own personal track lighting.  More than just requisite filler between action shots, Rila Fukushima, Tao Okamoto, Svetlana Khodchenkova, and Will Yun Lee enhance the proceedings and engage the viewer in their own unique manner.

Director James Mangold (Walk the Line) does Wolverine aficionados proud, from a screenplay written by Christopher McQuarrie (The Usual Suspects) Scott Frank (Minority Report) and Mark Bomback (Unstoppable) from the early 80’s comic-book miniseries written by Chris Claremont and drawn by Frank Miller.  

Heavy on action and intrigue, Mangold goes easy on the comic-book aspect of his hero, eschewing the cartoonish for the character-driven and invading the mind of the mutant to make him even more three-dimensional than your glasses can detect.  The visual 3-D effect does not have a starring role here, by the way, so skip the surcharge.
     
Worth the Wait:  A mid-credits scene at the end of the film, set two years later, shows a Logan/Magneto/Professor Xavier encounter in an airport.  There’s a Trask Industries advertisement on the wall.  Hardly the end of the story.

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