Cocktails and Movies Review: “The Wolverine” – Everyone’s Favorite Mutant Earns His Stripes Again

Forget “Origins”… Just Forget It Ever Happened. You’ll Be Better Off.

Cocktails and Movies Sharpens Up And Fights For The Wolverine.

In 2000, a relative newcomer by the name of Hugh Jackman burst onto movie screens worldwide as one of the most beloved X-Men of all time. He lucked into the role that Dougray Scott was supposed to play, and that Fox wanted to give to either Gary Sinise or Keanu Reeves. What started as a stroke of luck turned into an amazing break for the man who would, 12 years later, still embody the very essence of the role he was originally given on a whim. Much like the franchise that originated that he originated from, there have been highs (X2: X-Men United), some lows (X3: The Last Stand), and of course a one way trip to rock bottom (Do we even have to mention Origins?), but ultimately if there was one thing you could count on it was this: Hugh Jackman is, and always will be, a kick assed Wolverine. It’s been proven time and time again, and it’s only further proven in the successful continuation of his story.

The Wolverine finds Logan drifting through the Yukon years after the events of X3: The Last Stand. Resigned to living a life in the woods, he’s sought out by an old friend named Yashida (Haruhiko Yamanouchi), a man he saved from the Nagasaki explosion. A man who, after amassing a life of wealth and power, wants to repay the favor…by taking away his immortality. Yashida’s emissary, Yukio, takes Logan to Tokyo to meet with Yashida. Through a mysterious set of circumstances, his healing powers are inhibited and before he can properly deal with the consequences, he’s on the run. As he’s getting to the bottom of a conspiracy surrounding the Yashida empire, he’s seeing visions of Jean Grey (Famke Janssen) and pondering the prospect of true mortality. Ultimately he’ll have to make a choice, and that choice will effect not only himself, but the Yashida family… as well as the rest of the world.

The best way to describe The Wolverine is a Samurai Western mixed with a Comic Book movie, touched with a hint of Noir detective story. That may sound like a lot of different influences at work, (in fact director James Mangold listed ten films that influenced how he handled the story, listing everything from The French Connection to Chungking Express to The Outlaw Josey Wales), but all of those influencing forces manage to somehow form up into not only an interesting film, but probably the best X-Men film since I. Outlaw drifter Wolverine not only contemplates mortality, but also plays gumshoe in a land where honor and secrecy are dependent upon each other’s existence. It’s when you begin to see all of the pieces coming together that you realize this film is working mighty well. In fact, while it starts out a little slow, the film benefits from the time taken to lead up to the action that is eventually unleashed.

James Mangold is an under-appreciated director who moves from genre to genre., leaving his stamp wherever he goes. Identity was his horror thriller, Walk The Line was his biopic, and 3:10 to Yuma was his western book adaptation. It’s that ability that benefits his career, and it’s that ability that makes The Wolverine a comic movie that ranks up there with The Avengers and Iron Man 3. The fact that Hugh Jackman has grown his career with this character and has spent over a decade using the same methodology to get into the characters’ head (while always finding room to learn something new*), proves only one thing… Hugh Jackman loves this character. He puts so much time and effort into what others would have seen as a paycheck gig that he basically was pulling a Robert Downey Jr. level method performance about a good eight years before Iron Man.

Thankfully, the film is also packed with other characters that give just as much depth to the film as he does. Specifically, the role of Rila Fukushima’s Yukio (Yashida’s adopted daughter of sorts who’s sent to collect Logan from the Yukon) is another notch on the scoreboard of awesome female characters that don’t need love stories to be interesting. The amounts of ass she kicks in this film is ungodly!  What’s more, Marco Beltrami knocks the musical score out of the park by mixing an action score with the motifs of a Spaghetti Western. A perfect blend of action, drama, and comic book elements, with a plot line that works alongside the set pieces (instead of working towards them); The Wolverine manages to prove that the potential futures of both the X-Men and Wolverine stand alone franchises is pretty bright indeed.

*Fun Fact: According to IMDB, after a surprise cold shower before heading to the set of X-Men back in 200o, Hugh always takes a cold shower before heading to the set. The reason? It reminds him of the constant nature of his character: always wanting to scream out, but keeping it in. You can thank his then sleeping wife for that one.

Cocktails And Movies Rating: 5 out of 5 Shots of Jack Daniels, Straight. Got a problem with that, bub?