Following up the decidedly mediocre X-Men Origins: Wolverine – but set after the events of The Last Stand – we weren’t expecting much from The Wolverine. Adventuring across Japan, the film follows a life-weary Wolverine as he finally faces a brush with mortality. And armies of stealth ninjas, naturally.
The screening proved to be full of pleasant surprises – not least an unannounced appearance from Hugh Jackman. Sure he was, like, 40 meters away when introducing the film, but the size of his chest was enough to compel us to hit the gym. Every day. For eternity.
In proper Logan mode (see: fitted white tee, substantial lambchop sideburns), Jackman praised director James Mangold – who was also on-hand – describing the latest take on Wolverine as the most nuanced to date.
Jackman, whose family lives in London, was also rather pleased with the heatwave we’re experiencing, saying that it’s a perfect chance for everyone to finally shut up about the “summer of fucking 1976.” Hear, hear.
1. The comic book hero format is alive. (Pretty much)
Save for a pretty lame, sci-fi-ish twist near its conclusion, The Wolverine was an entertaining-as-hell cocktail. Director James Mangold pivoted ably from musings on mortality to an all-in fight scene at a funeral to punchy, expletive-ridden one-liners.
Damn, how we’ve missed expletive-ridden one-liners.
2. Mangold has impressive range
Putting the director of Walk the Line at the helm of a colossal Marvel film franchise? Bizarre. The result? Intruiging – or in Rotten Tomatoes parlance, fresh.
3. The bullet train fight scene was monumental
Forget Skyfall’s opening, Wolverine’s action sequence aboard a bullet train is easily the best (train) fight scene this decade.
After escaping the clutches of the Yakuza and boarding a southbound train, sword-carrying Japanese gangsters ambush the Wolverine. We won’t ruin any more, but suffice to say, stakes are substantially raised when you’re careening at 200mph.
Maybe the finest locomotive-set fight sequence since Speed. (And when Dennis Hopper’s involved, that’s saying something.)
4. Tao Okamoto is a Woman We Love
In a film not wanting for gorgeous women (see: Svetlana Khodchenkova and Famke Janssen), Okamoto was a long, lithe vision.
A longtime model (and former face of Ralph Lauren), her acting debut was poised, nuanced and compelling – a refreshing change of pace from the usual humdrum romantic subplot.
Whether or not the Yakuza are hanging around (hey, preferably not), we’d gladly get lost in the south of Japan with her.
5. Paying extra for 3D tickets is for suckers
Save your money. And your eyes.
The Wolverine is out 25 July