Cary, NC- It’s been 13 years since Hugh Jackman first graced the silver screen as Logan AKA Wolverine in the first X-Men film. What’s even more impressive is that in those years, Jackman has played the character a total of 6 times now, more than any other actor in any superhero film ever. There have been some miss-steps along the way ( I’m looking at you, X-Men Origins: Wolverine), but through it all, Jackman has remained 100% committed to the role, and The Wolverine is no different.
Hugh Jackman Is Better Than Ever
As I mentioned above, Jackman brings his all to this sixth go as Wolverine, and the guy really has gotten better with each go-round. In fact, this is the best representation the clawed mutant has had on the big screen thus far.
The film’s director James Mangold, who previously helmed the Johnny Cash biopic Walk the Line and the western remake 3:10 to Yuma, forgoes non-stop action with actual character development of the seemingly immortal Wolverine.
The movie takes it’s time and tries to figure out what kind of toll immortality has taken on Logan, and Jackman knocks it out of the park. Aside from the usual rage and humor we’ve come to expect from his version of Wolverine, Jackman is finally able to really show off his understanding of this tortured character.
It also helps that The Wolverine is a stand-alone entry in the X-Men film universe. It references previous entries, but not in such a way that would alienate audiences that aren’t overly familiar with the previous films. The lack of a huge ensemble is a big reason that Jackman and the filmmakers are as successful as they are with the development of Wolverine.
Wolverine In Full-on Rage Mode
As for the action, it’s top notch. There are only 3 or 4 set pieces in the movie, but they are extremely exciting and well done. In almost every fight we get that berserker version of The Wolverine that was only hinted at in the other movies. He is in full rage mode here, and it’s a joy to watch. There is a particularly exciting sequence that takes place on top of a bullet train where Wolverine has to fight two different henchman while going 200 plus miles per hour. Oh, and he fights ninjas. So, yea, pretty cool.
I should also mention that The Wolverine never forgets that it is in fact a comic book movie and never takes itself too seriously. This is most evident in the film’s final battle sequence, which I won’t spoil here. It gets a little silly, but not enough so to ruin any true enjoyment of the movie.
A Little Bad To Go With All The Good
It’s not all great, though. Even with a substantially smaller cast than any previous X-Men film, there are still a few too many characters on display here. One in particular is a doctor whose intentions are less than good. It’s a character that almost literally adds nothing to the movie and yet is given a surprising amount of screen time. Everything that she does bring to the story could have easily been explained or dealt with a few extra lines by other characters. It doesn’t help that the actor’s line readings are close to terrible, and I found myself distracted every time they were onscreen.
Definitely Worth the Price of Admission
It’s a minor quibble though, as The Wolverine delivers a great examination of everyone’s favorite mutant while never forgetting to show us the characters’ rage and humor that has come to define him. I can’t quite call it my favorite X-Men film ( that honor is a tie between X2 and X-Men: First Class ), but it is my favorite version of this character on screen so far and I for one can’t wait to see him again.