Directed by James Mangold
Starring Hugh Jackman, Famke Janssen, Tao Okamoto, Rila Fukushima, Hiroyuki Sanada
Still traumatized by the death of his beloved Jean Grey, Wolverine lives as a hermit in the forests of Canada. Here a young woman, Yukio, finds him. She has been sent to him by old Yashida, a Japanese multimillionaire whose life was saved by Wolverine during World War II. Yashida is about to die, but before he does, he wants to repay the favor by giving Wolverine the chance to renounce the immortality which burdened for him all these years. However, the situation in Yashida’s family is complex, and after his death, Mariko, his legitimate heir, becomes the target of many enemies. Logan decides to protect her at all costs…
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To define this second movie about the most famous of Marvel’s many superheroes, many critics have called it a ‘classic’, a term which has both a positive and negative meaning.
This second chapter of Wolverine’s (aka Logan) saga doesn’t strive to reach the pensive and post-modern complexity of Christopher Nolan movie-comics, while it lacks, except for fleeting moments, the self-deprecating irony of Avengers.
The plot is simple and traditional: a hero has lost himself might come back — if he can find a worthy villain, a mission and a person to dedicate his life to.
Wolverine will find all of this in Japan (as told by the comic, which is a good marketing ploy). He is summoned there by the boss of a Japanese multinational who intends to repay Wolverine for saving him many years ago from the nuclear explosion in Nagasaki.
The two gifts from the old man are a wonderful katana (one of the many references to the mythical Samurai’s ethic codes), and the chance to die. This latter gift is the first of many surprises that Logan will find in Japan (along with dark ladies who poison with kisses, helpless young women, clairvoyant warriors, mysterious ninjas, yakuza and armour-plated samurai).
The story progresses through chases, fights, and moments of romance unfolding as memories of a lost love (when Logan killed his lover in the name of their love), or the blossoming of a new one.
If a deeper theme is to be found, it is the critique of the search for immortality and an inability to accept the passage of time as a fundamental part of being human.
It is not much to those used to the dramatic subtlety of Bryan Singer’s X Men. Also, the 3D seems to be a choice based on popularity; it’s less elegant than the style of its prequel X Men First Class.
The charm of the movie lies with the star, Hugh Jackman. He is in great shape and in his sixth film as Wolverine he seems totally into the part (be it wandering unhappy and whiskered in the forests or fighting on a train roof). The rest of the cast is completely Japanese and the audience has no one else but him to cling to in this lively adventure.
Anyway, have no fear: those who have the patience to sit through the credits will have a chance to witness an old friend promising Wolverine new adventures for his claws, although with no adamantium.
Problematic elements: some violent scenes within the conventions of the genre.
Laura Cotta Ramosino is a story editor for Rai Uno, the national Italian broadcaster, and contributes to different magazines and websites about cinema and television.