'The Wolverine' makes its hero more interesting than in past installments

( PG-13 ) ( Monitor Movie Guide )

'Wolverine' has a newly weakened protagonist and is as much an homage to Asian martial arts movies as it is a comic book film.

Ben Rothstein/20th Century Fox/AP
'The Wolverine' stars Hugh Jackman.

The Wolverine is back and battling ninjas. Directed by James Mangold, “Wolverine” is as much an homage to Asian martial arts movies as it is a Marvel Comics spinoff. (The two domains are not all that far apart.) Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine/Logan, trying to douse his inner beast, has been secluding himself in the Yukon wilds. But, of course, the big bad world keeps pulling him back – this time all the way to Tokyo, where he finds himself embroiled in family clan wars.

Worse, one of the resident nasties (she is literally viperish) has found a way to drain Wolverine/Logan of his recuperative powers. All of this makes him more vulnerable – i.e., interesting – than before. At least now we know he can be killed.

Dewy corporate heiress Mariko (Tao Okamoto) provides the sappy love interest. He’s better matched, albeit platonically, with the pixieish, red-velvet-haired Yukio (Rila Fukushima), a whirlwind of martial arts moves.

Mangold front-loads the action, but a first-rate fight atop a bullet train between Wolverine/Logan and some especially pesky ninjas puts the train fights in the recent “The Lone Ranger” to shame. Grade: B (Rated PG-13 for sequences of intense sci-fi action and violence, some sexuality and language.)

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.