Looks like Marvel and co. finally learned their lesson after the disaster that was X-Men Origins: Wolverine. Where that film basically just seemed like another X-Men movie, completely overshadowing that it was supposed to be a singular Wolverine film, The Wolverine acts much in the way a spin-off should. Cameos galore plodded up “Origins,” while The Wolverine stays true to its namesake with Wolverine being the only X-Men focused on throughout the whole film. Of course, this being a Marvel film, there are cameos, but ones relegated to the end credits (of course), and one with reason where the character is seen in a couple flashbacks in order to comment on Logan’s mental state.
As has been previously lauded, setting the film in Japan builds greatly towards the film’s sense of focus and allowing a concise narrative to flow out of it. Not only are they able to tie in the history of the country to current events, but it ties into Wolverine as a character, and not remain some aimless new place just to set action scenes. Also, it’s quite clear on the parallels it tries to build between Wolverine being a nomad bestowed with an honour code, similar to the samurai and culture of the Japanese people.
While the narrative actually makes sense and is engaging, it doesn’t skimp on the action scenes, but rather makes them even better by housing them in uniquely Japanese elements. There’s one at an elaborate funeral, one pretty thrilling and cool one on top of a high-speed train and another at the classic “dojo” type buildings. Not only are the action scenes entertaining and engaging, their backdrop adds a different twist and keeps them from becoming stale. Coupled with James Mangold’s fine directing, it’s a pretty well-rounded movie in both typical comic book action scenes, but also with a worthwhile story to build around.