In 2009, Fox tried to give Wolverine his own franchise. What resulted was a forgettable slog of baloney called X-Men Origins: Wolverine. Four years later, the stench of Origins has dissipated—so here's The Wolverine, Fox's latest attempt to make X-Men amounts of money while only having to hire one X-Man. But here's the thing: This time, it works!
DO NOT MISUNDERSTAND ME. The Wolverine is not what cinephiles with monocles will call a "good" film. It is, however a film that contains the following things: Hugh Jackman being gruff and charming, usually without a shirt! An angry silver robot! A snake lady? Prophetic mysteries. Ninjas! Samurai swords. The best bit of self-surgery since Prometheus! Honor. (Ugh, so much honor.) Beautiful Japanese ladies! BOOM! A nuclear explosion. A love hotel. Wolverine living in a cave, looking and probably smelling like a filthy hobo. More ninjas! Grumpy yakuza! A friendly grizzly bear! For real: You will get your money's worth.
Loosely based on a couple of Japan-centric Wolverine comics—1982's "Wolverine" by Chris Claremont and Frank Miller, and 2008's "Logan" by Brian K. Vaughan and Eduardo Risso—The Wolverine plunks its hero in Japan, casting him as a ronin, a masterless samurai. A fish out of water who has razor-sharp claws, Wolverine naturally falls in love and fights some bad guys and cracks some jokes and scowls. But the difference between this and Origins (and, for that matter, the past few lackluster X-Men movies) is that director James Mangold knows exactly the right tone to hit: The Wolverine's pulpy story might make no sense at all, but it gives Mangold and Jackman plenty of opportunities to dish out energy, charm, humor, and Ginsu knife action. So not only is The Wolverine goofy and entertaining and fun, but it's also a movie that features a friendly grizzly bear! NO COMPLAINTS.
dir. James Mangold