starring Hugh Jackman, Will Yun Lee, Hiroyuki Sanada, Tao Okamoto
screenplay by Mark Bomback and Scott Frank
directed by James Mangold
by Walter Chaw James Mangold's The Wolverine is lovely, unusual, novel enough that the moments it makes concessions to its genre and comic-book origins are the same moments that feel like a shame. It's not that they don't work, exactly--it's that when a brooding character study offset by a few delightful action scenes introduces an adamantium samurai mecha and a Poison Ivy manqué to bring it all home, well...it's that it works too well at being something the film is otherwise not. It's two movies, really: a unique one about women in tension; and a more common one about a grief-stricken man taking on the responsibility of protecting a surrogate. Both are complex. It's a pity that, by dint of license and expectation, The Wolverine had to be a literal superhero movie and not something more covert like The Caveman's Valentine or The Brave One. At the end, the only place to put the blame is the impossibility of funding a picture like this without the license and expectation: no one would invest, it would seem, in an anonymous story about a man's mute, impotent melancholy and the many females around him engaged in the maintenance of their separate, disintegrating orbits.