The Wolverine is, essentially, about lust, greed and love. The inner meaning – and I presume there is one – is buried so deep that it would require multiple watches to infer what James Mangold wants us to. But I will say the film is ahead of its time – didn’t expect that from an X-Men movie, did we? To be fair, this one doesn’t disappoint. It’s called The Wolverine for a reason – out of the total run time of 2 hours and 6 minutes, Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) is at the centre of the screen for 2 hours 5 minutes and 59 seconds. For the remaining one second, he’s in the background.
The film offers no new story, and no added dimension to the character we have got to know in five earlier films. Set in Japan, it adopts a degree of the anime style. I do have a quibble with this. Part of the dialogue is in Japanese, with no English translation provided. While one doesn’t appear to miss much, it isn’t particularly pleasant to feel excluded from entire chunks of the movie.
This is the premise of the film – yet another person, with even more money, wants the gift of eternal life from Wolverine. I can’t fathom the filmmakers’ reasons for involving Mariko (Tao Okamoto) in the story, except perhaps to garner the favour of male audiences. She is admittedly the closest one can get to a modern day Geisha. It’s probably just as well to give the men something – Hugh Jackman’s dislike for shirts is bound to play havoc with female hormones and male insecurity.
Looking back, I would describe the film as a chick flick interspersed with action sequences. Throughout, Wolverine laments the passing of his beloved Jean Grey (Famke Janssen). She regularly makes appearances in his dreams, to help him move on and keep fighting. Predictably, he overcomes his grief in the arms of another woman, because she’s just so nice (can’t say I blame him, she really is that nice).
However, there are some positives in the film, even for the asexual. One of these is the brilliant choreography of the action sequences, especially the fight on the train. That one is awe-inspiring. And even the routines towards the end will have you on the edge of your seat. Another plus is the insight the film offers into Japanese culture – I especially enjoyed an anecdote about chopsticks – and the views of Japanese architecture at the Yashidha household are a treat.
The piece de resistance has to be the after credits scene. It’s just so wonderful, it takes all my restraint to keep myself from blurting it out right now.
The Verdict: Heterosexual women and homosexual men must watch this film simply for Hugh Jackman. Everyone else can afford to go in about half an hour later. But the final scene is a masterpiece, compared to which the rest of the film fades into insignificance.