In his new adventure, Logan/Wolverine goes to Tokyo at the behest of a dying Japanese businessman, a former World War II soldier whom Wolverine saved from the Nagasaki bomb in 1945. The man tells Logan he can return the favor by shedding the mutant's curse of immortality with technology developed by his company. Instead, Wolverine becomes embroiled in a war between the company's henchmen and Japanese organized crime for control of the business.
Wolverine therefore must protect the businessman's granddaughter (Tao Okamoto) from the Yakuza hunting her down, and he enlists the help of a sword-wielding sidekick named Yukio (Rila Fukushima). There's a lot of nicely choreographed martial arts and samurai sword fighting as he and Yukio take on waves of ninjas and mobsters, and there's an especially exciting (though much too short) hand-to-hand battle on top of a speeding bullet train.
Despite that, there's little of the awe-inspiring large-scale set pieces that made the "The Avengers" and this summer's "Man of Steel" stand out. Wolverine also goes up against too many hidden villains, making it hard to focus on a single, all-powerful antagonist whom audiences can grow to hate. And here's yet another summer blockbuster that wastes the 3-D look with flat and featureless effects (to see what great 3-D looks like, go to the robots-vs.-monsters epic, "Pacific Rim").
Directed with a bigger eye on the drama by James Mangold ("3:10 to Yuma," "Walk the Line"), "The Wolverine" honorably tries harder to examine Logan battling his demons but falls short of what hefty drama demands. Such dark underpinnings from an iconic comic-book hero deserve more mature treatment and a more exciting movie.
Hugh Jackman returns as the metal-clawed mutant in this average superhero story that again fails to dig deeper into Wolverine's psyche.
Where • Theaters everywhere.
When • Opens Friday, July 26.
Rating • PG-13 for sequences of intense sci-fi action and violence, some sexuality and language.
Running time • 126 minutes.