Ian Hobbs’s review published on Letterboxd:
"What kind of monster are you?"
Boosting with bloody violence and pure rage; The Wolverine is quite possibly the most surprising entry in the X-Men franchise. When first released, I thought that it was good but it didn't blow me away. Watching now - after X-Men Origins - I truly love it and it was what the prequel was supposed to be.
The thing that Gavin Hood lacked was passion and knowledge of the comics. With James Mangold however, its completely different. Mangold understood the character of Wolverine, and instead of disregarding The Last Stand, he used it to his advantage as a focal point for Logan and it worked so so well. I love just how much everyone wanted to right the wrongs of Origins and they did it with ease. They made it a singular story and one that doesn't need any backstory and exists on its own.
Written by Mark Bomback & Scott Frank, The Wolverine has one of the finest examples of grounded superhero films. Like Nolan's films, this seemed real. It wasn't totally over-the-top, there weren't high battles and a beam shot in the air, and I loved it so much for that. It actually surprised me this time around, and I applaud them for the way they made the character of Wolverine weak and truly human again. The way that they work Jean Grey in is done phenomenally well, and the closure that the ending gives us was flawless.
Wolverine was the best thing about the original X-Men trilogy and Mangold used that to his advantage, as he made this a fun and bloody spectacle. The action done in The Wolverine may be the best in the entire franchise. It's Wolverine kicking ass and taking life, and it all looks beautiful, to be honest. The action was shot tightly, edited perfectly, and the choreography is truly amazing.
James Mangold is a force to be reckoned with when it comes to directing a superhero flick, as The Wolverine took risks that paid off. His direction is one point here and it's nearly flawless. Japan looked absolutely stunning in its nightlife, and the beginning WWII scene was really beautiful. The cinematography combined with Mangold's direction makes it a wonder in screen - especially on blu ray. I was in awe - this time around - at how well Mangold handled the action with the emotions of the characters. Each one has their motive and its all done so well.
When it comes to performances, it's clear that Hugh Jackman plays his best Wolverine. He's badass, he kicks tons of ass, and overall he feels menacing. Adding in the Japan elements made it look so great as well. I also love how great of a character Logan is. Sure its the same person; but then again, they're not. Mangold handled that aspect so well. The only other great actor here is Tao Okamoto, who is sexy as she is cool. I love her arc here and I love how well she works with Jackman.
I truly loved this more than I thought I would. After a hiatus in the franchise of stinkers - save for 2011's X-Men: First Class - James Mangold's bloody and brutal samurai flick, The Wolverine, is one of the must under appreciated films in general, not just in the superhero genre. Its Hugh Jackman's best portrayal yet, the Japan setting is unique and beautiful, and the script was handled perfectly. To be frank, The Wolverine fucks.