The X-Men franchise has always been amazing to me. I didn't know much about the characters the first time I saw the first movie, but I was amazed at how they could handle a group of superheroes so well, with a serious tone and still have the skills to make it a good movie that had more than the eye could easily meet. And its subsequent sequels have barely been disappointing. But there are exceptions for everything and precisely X-Men Origins: Wolverine was that exception to this outstanding series. So I was reluctant to see this "The Wolverine" movie since it could easily be another let-down.
Wolverine is immortal, so that gives him enough time to live long exciting adventures and then put them behind and have more of those. Fortunately, director James Mangold develops a more than decent movie that takes itself away from the average superhero movie cliches enough to become a beast on its own. There is a love interest but this time is good and credible, there is action but it only helps the story, there are secondary characters but they are a contribution not just fillers, there is humor but just when it can surprise you and - for once - make you laugh.
Mangold only drops the ball when it's about the villains. Svetlana Khodchenkova as Viper is a major disappointment in every sense. She can't act and she reminds of a more modern version of Uma Thurman's Poison Ivy, with her ridiculous green outfits and her annoying way to behave, feel and talk "mischievous" all the time (at some point she drops her "human skin" threatening us with a sinister monster-looking new version of herself... only to reveal that she looks exactly the same... but bald - ???!!!???
). Tao Okamoto (Mariko) and Rila Fukushima (Yukio) are just great and Hugh Jackman... well, he has been this character just so many times he knows exactly what to do.
Now the plot of our hero losing his powers doesn't go too far nor does it explore everything it could (when he's not super-powered bullets seem to harm him... just a little bit more than when he was
). His views and future life as a mortal never seem to make an impact on him. But "The Wolverine" plays for fun, it knows when to breath and it's all in all a very well told story with a lot of heart. And the action is always great (even when you get to wonder why there's no blood at all, why it's so easy to get into mob bosses' hideouts or why Viper doesn't throw her venom as soon as she can