(US/UK - 2013)
Directed by James Mangold. Written by Mark Bomback and Scott Frank. Cast: Hugh Jackman, Hiroyuki Sanada, Tao Okamoto, Rila Fukushima, Famke Janssen, Svetlana Khodchenkova, Will Yun Lee, Haruhiko Yamanouchi, Brian Tee, Ken Yamamura. (PG-13, 125 mins)
A largely stand-alone adventure for the most iconic character in the X-MEN canon, THE WOLVERINE draws a bit from events in 2006's X-MEN: THE LAST STAND and the Silver Samurai makes an appearance, though with a significant change to his identity so as to thoroughly enrage the purists. Hugh Jackman turns in his toughest, grittiest performance yet as Logan, introduced living in the wilds of the Yukon and haunted by visions of Jean Grey (Famke Janssen) trying to coerce him into joining her in death. This is not possible for the immortal Logan, who's then brought to Japan by spunky sword-fighter Yukio (Rila Fukushima), a mutant with the ability to see when someone will die. Yukio has been sent by dying tech giant CEO Master Yashida (Haruhiko Yamanouchi), who was rescued from the Nagasaki bomb by Logan during WWII. Logan's been told that Yashida wants to personally thank him for saving his life all those years ago, but his real intention is to harness Logan's immortal life force and allow the pained ronin--masterless samurai--to live a normal life and to grow old and die. Yashida fears for the safety of his beloved granddaughter Mariko (Tao Okamoto) and distrusts his duplicitous son Shingen (Hiroyuki Sanada), who has already committed Mariko to an arranged marriage with promising politico Mori (Brian Tee). Yashida dies and yakuza thugs ambush the funeral, kidnapping Mariko, sending Logan and Yukio into action. Logan finds Mariko and the two go on the run, with yakuza and ninjas in hot pursuit, but Logan finds himself in a weakened state, his abilities partially drained by the lethal Viper (Svetlana Khodchenkova), incognito as Yashida's oncologist.