The theme of the movie is strong and moving: what's the point of living if you have no purpose? Immortality is a curse when you have nothing to live for. Wolverine is in purgatory, having given up the X-Men after killing his one true love Jean Grey at the end of X-Men: The Last Stand . A mysterious man from Wolverine's past offers to take his healing powers from him. Granting him his mortality is a gift...right? The subsequent plot and its character motivations are muddled and nonsensical, but necessary to keep the characters moving across the map. Taking away Wolverine's healing powers was a bold move that pays off- he's even more powerful and threatening when he fearlessly enters battle while bleeding and limping.
This is my second movie in a row set almost entirely outside America, how refreshing! The Japanese setting was well integrated into the movie, although if I was Japanese, I might be offended by the cultural depiction: the heroine mostly speaks quietly, brews tea, and doesn't make eye contact. She has one gripping monologue where she calms a manic Wolverine with a compelling anecdote, but otherwise it's mostly following and cowering. Everyone else is corrupt, a criminal, a megalomaniac, or a combination of the three.
The secondary villain, Viper, is a unfocused mishmash of a superpowered mutant. She has a forked tongue, spits acid, and molts her skin and hair. She's also smug, wears ridiculous outfits, and explains her entire character and plot after Wolverine is captured, aka "monologue-ing". Somehow her entire character and costume fell through the cracks of the production and never got the necessary attention.
If you can survive the pointless plotting and the silly ending, The Wolverine is worth watching for the Wolverine. Hugh Jackman deserves an award for respecting this character so well through five-plus movies and counting. My grade: B-minus
Goof (minor spoiler)In The Wolverine, we watch the Bockscar and its support craft approaching Nagasaki from a relatively low altitude. We see the bomb drop for a few seconds then detonate on impact.
In reality, the B-29 dropped the Fat Man bomb from over 31,000 feet above Nagasaki. The bomb took 43 seconds to fall from the aircraft before it detonated about about 1,500 feet above the city. It's a shame to see such an expensive movie recreate such an historic moment and fudge the facts so badly.