Movies: The Wolverine

It is 1945. There’s a man deep in a well-like hole in the ground. Soon, an Asian man finds him. Suddenly, there’s an airplane passing overhead and, in a few moments, a very large bomb is dropped nearby. That is the atom bomb being dropped on Nagasaki.

Logan, the Wolverine (Hugh Jackman), bares his claws for action.
Photo: ©2013 20th Century Fox Film Corporation

Now, fast-forward to today. The Asian man, Yashida (Haruhiko Yamanouchi), now a very wealthy mogul, is on his deathbed in Japan and Logan, the other man — whom we also know as The Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) — has answered his request and come to Japan to see him.

While there is action — notably a fight on the roofs of speeding train cars that is reminiscent of the fight in The Lone Ranger — there is also the story of Logan, the tortured superhero. He’s got several women in his life. Chief among them in this movie is Yukio (Rila Fukushima), whose bright red hair and perky face adds a splash of vivid color to the movie.

There’s also Mariko (Tao Okamoto), Yashida’s granddaughter, engaged to a bad guy and the Viper (Svetlana Khodchenkova), as scary a woman as you’ve ever likely to see. Logan is also haunted by Jean Grey (Famke Janssen), his long-dead love from whom he seeks advice and peace.

Director James Mangold (Walk the Line, Girl, Interrupted, 3:10 to Yuma) lets us see a very human Wolverine. He is a man with depth and feelings, rather than the usual comic book hero.

The Wolverine is neither as long nor as loud as most such action franchise films and, because it is so different from most, it is most welcome.