Director: James Mangold
Starring: Hugh Jackman, Tao Okamoto, Rila Fukushima, Famke Janssen
When this latest X-Men spin-off to feature Hugh Jackman's claw-handed character was screened in London, Jackman bounded on stage to enthusiastically introduce the movie and effusively sing the praises of its director, James Mangold. It's not hard to see why Jackman was so complimentary, as this comic book adventure has far more energy than Wolverine's previous cinematic outing, 2009's lacklustre X-Men Origins: Wolverine.
Beginning with a literally explosive scene set in a Japanese prisoner-of-war camp in the shadow of Nagasaki in which Logan (aka Wolverine) saves one of his captors as the bomb drops, we flash forward to the present day where our hero is brooding and alone and haunted by visions of his departed love Jean Grey (Famke) who, fans will remember, he had to kill at the end of X-Men: The Last Stand. He's tracked down in the Canadian wilderness by the sparky Yukio (Rila), who asks him to come with her to Japan to say goodbye to the elderly dying man he saved in the second world war. Of course, there's more to their little Oriental holiday than that and it's not long before Logan is fighting yakuza, samurai and other dudes while trying to protect the lovely Mariko (Tao), who's conveniently pretty enough to keep his mind off Jean.
While one important plot point - Logan losing his mighty Wolverine strength and healing ability - is wasted, there is more than enough action to propel the movie forward, with Jackman discarding his shirt, flexing his (very impressive) muscles and dispatching baddies with glee. There are a couple of stunning set pieces - a frenzied fight at a funeral and an edge-of-the-seat action sequence on top of a speeding Japanese train - that make up for a slightly disappointing finale. Surprisingly little blood is spilt as Logan slices and dices his way through the bad guys, making it appropriate viewing for older preteens (though there is some swearing).
The movie benefits from being a one-man show for Jackman (rather than the mutant free-for-all that was Origins), and while the other major mutant, the suitably named Viper (Svetlana Khodchenkova, gorgeous but wooden) is forgettable, this remains one of the best outings for our metallic-taloned hero since the original X-Men.
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