Elysium (2013) Theatrical review

What You May Like:

  • Stellar direction
  • Superb and downright seamless special effects
  • Excellently hate-worthy villains

What You May Not:

  • Jodie Foster’s cheesy accent and only standard performance
  • Social commentary could have been stronger
  • Matt Damon deserves more characterization

What You’ll Remember:

  • Damon’s bio-mechanical direct-download-to-cerebrum strengthening future armor

Back in 2009, South Africa hailing director Neill Blomkamp broke through to the American film public with his sci-fi action drama District 9; a film known more for its intelligently implemented and boisterously voiced social commentary on modern socioeconomic classes as well as their possible future repercussions over its intensity, yet with enough of a fast-paced story, breakthrough special effects action, and deeply invested characters to match wits with its science fiction peers to make it one of the more standout films in its genre of the last decade. In similar fashion, with significantly reflective directorial choices comes Blomkamp’s latest epic in what may be becoming a welcome habit in socially relevant storytelling, Elysium. Starring A-listers Matt Damon and Jodie Foster, as well as the main protagonist from District 9, Sharlto Copley, portraying the star villain, Blomkamp nearly matches wits entirely as his last Hollywood breakthrough, if trading some more real-world parallel commentary for a greater dose of stunning visual theatrics, yet still maintaining just as much equal entertainment value all the way around.

Elysium takes place in the middle of the 22nd century – the year 2154 if your grinch truly’s memory serves correct – where the world has become a completely segregated, corrupt, and dangerously overpopulated place to inhabit. Therefore, to maintain humanity’s typical lifestyle of soulless vanity, the most wealthy and distinguished citizens of Earth have built a space station land of sorts in outer space, named Elysium, at a distance relatively similar to that of the moon’s. In Elysium, the rich can still maintain their luxurious lifestyles with no disturbance from the suffering poor. The rich’s lands are beautifully clean, profoundly comfortable, and a place where any human physical flaws or illnesses of any sort can be instantly cured by small medical bays conveniently set in one’s own home in less than a minute’s time. Back on Earth, with our story centralized in Los Angeles, citizens live in shacks practically mounted on top of one another, plant life is virtually non-existent, an abusive military robotic police force has all humans on a fearful leash, and hordes of the population are starving, sick and dying of various illnesses. Here we meet Matt Damon who plays Max, a young parolee who is stuck in a dangerous factory job which produces more robot police units. Having dreamed of moving to Elysium as a young boy, Max’s story gets set in motion due to an accident at his workplace which puts his life in fatal danger. Getting back into contact with some of the hacker/future mafia rebellion movement Max used to work for, who now specializes in illegal immigration to Elysium, he is given a proposition by his former boss to hijack sensitive and confidential information as a trade-off to illegally enter Elysium. The sensitive information is held by an informant (William Fichtner) working for Delacourt (Jodie Foster), who is an Elysium political frontrunner who gets into some hot water with her superiors and devises a plan for greater power over the utopian space station. Now aside from Max is his female childhood best friend Frey, played by Alice Braga, a girl who grew up in the ruins along with Max, as sporadic flashback scenes tell us. Currently as an adult working as a nurse in a grossly understaffed and constantly busy ER, the two come back into contact, separated long years due to their dire circumstances. Along with many other sick, Frey’s young daughter is stricken with leukemia, for which the cancer’s final stages warrant Frey’s desire to get her to Elysium.

Aside from this initial cast, the previous main protagonist from District 9, Sharlto Copley, plays Kruger, a resident rogue “sleeper agent” of Los Angeles who is also under Delacourt’s orders to serve as a sole police force on Earth who can take care of much of the dirty work Delacourt requires, yet can still safely maintain under the radar of the Elysium political hierarchy. While his initial actions under Delacourt gets her to bump heads with her superiors, she then assigns Kruger to go after Max when he later holds some valuable information that has the potential to drastically change the course of history and both the rich and poor classes way of life.

Matt Damon has no problem tackling the sci-fi role, as from his plentiful Bourne Identity experience one can see that at this point he can not only take care of more emotionally driven scenes, but flex his combative and gun-toting muscles with the likes of other modern-day action stars, if not, satisfyingly moreso; being a star whose characters give you just the right mix of humility, confidence, fearlessness, and quiet determination, Damon successfully drives what works with Max, bringing Elysium a unique tone that other action stars would never have achieved in the film’s tonality intentions. That being said, while Damon doesn’t necessarily steal top bill here it mostly has to do with Max’s overall character arc, which although backed up by only a few childhood flashbacks, is unfortunately not given enough background as a grown man for the audience to care about him as much as they’d actually want to, which leads to one of the film’s more picky quips. Thanks to a few minor co-stars, such as his ex-boss hacker Spider (Wagner Moura) and best friend Julio (Diego Luna), who draw enough compassion from us rather quickly due to their friendship and loyalty to Max, Damon’s character is brought out to better life and helps Elysium establish itself rather firmly in the storyline department. Early on, it can be seen that Blomkamp has other intentions in mind with Elysium that stretch his action directorial muscles significantly more than District 9, and like his previous work’s prime focus on character compassion and a real world social message, Elysium is much more satisfied at keeping its tone as a gritty sci-fi action powerhouse, and it works to great benefit for its audience thanks to some of the most realistic and beautifully crafted mix of CGI, props, and explosive special effects to come in the last decade, even more than some of its best action films such as The Avengers¬†and well, District 9. Such great ideas on screen here only multiply in magnitude once Max puts on the staple killer app of Elysium, that being his bio-mechanical suit which drills directly into his nervous system, systematically altering not only his brain capacity but also his physical strength and capabilities. Easily one of the best ideas in action films to come around in a very long time.

Now, many viewers may notice the intense visual similarities between this and Blomkamp’s previous epic sci-fi breakthrough, as not only is the cinematography in the same style, but the setting itself is in fact so similar that it almost seems as if after District 9‘s production shooting was wrapped up Elysium‘s crew moved directly in right after, complete with home sets and props and began filming. For Blomkamp to do a third film in the same light may come with the risk of pigeon-holing himself, even if the film meets or surpasses this one in level of quality.

So while the action visual spectacles are wonderfully fulfilling thanks to smart use of cameras angles and talented editing as well as other technical effects, the social message (or prospects of it) most expected from Blomkamp is somewhat unfortunately underutilized, similar to the character of Max not being given better background detail. Yet, one can argue there is not much to delegate about in the struggles of the poorer working classes vs. the advantages luxuries of the wealthy upper class, but Blomkamp could have very well fit even a smidget more in relation to our current political affairs, as there would not have been any danger in placing equal focus on story significance and action set-pieces. The fact that the vast majority of the film actually doesn’t take place on the Elysium space station but here on Earth, one can see how a further extension of more main characters in the wealthy class could have brought a bit more to what the script of Elysium had to play with. Yet as we have it, the rich play as nothing more than cardboard stand-ins, none of whom in the general public are ever highlighted in the slightest. Again, just another mild complaint. Yet what Blomkamp does with the action set-pieces here is nothing short of fantastic. Just like the alien beings in District 9, the robot droid police force on Earth look and move so realistically, and work with the on-screen actors with such seamless fluidity that it is almost like the filmmakers built actual living and functioning androids driven by real actors, or even just on their own. They are brought to shine mostly during the physical altercations and gunfights, along with the flying craft machines which switch from CGI to real life props with a brilliant efficiency that is virtually unnoticeable by the human eye. Given the environmental desolate dirtland settings of the film, such a future world perspective can hit pretty close to home, giving the audience something much closer to relate to than the purposefully plastic superficial scenery of the coveted world of Elysium.

Rounding off the most important aspects of the film is those of our two main vilains – Delacourt and rogue agent Kruger. both of which do their fair share of heartless and fatal actions towards the innocent public and protagonists, more than enough suited to elicit fuller cheers for good to prevail, yet maybe perhaps not counting the actual real life wealthy one-percent to whom this film may not completely register in the compassion or relatability departments. While Delacourt displays a completely unforgivable cold-heartedness towards any people not in line with her plans for more absolute power, it is merely her scripted actions which make this character so wretched to us, not the actress Jodie Foster herself. Perhaps being the one major downpoint to the film (shockingly, I agree, as it is the one and only academy award winning Jodie Foster), Delacourt is a character of French decent given it her primary language, whereas English she speaks with a French accent; it being a fairly to sometimes very poor job of an accent when in use. As interesting as it is being that in Elysium citizens are presented to mostly follow French and English as primary languages whereas those on Earth are in large majority dark-skinned and follow mostly Spanish and English, it would have made sense that any actors used to represent this atmospheric point be believable as such. With Foster at the helm of a character, it simply is not, as her performance really could have been done by just about anybody, and some who may have given us an accent that is not at sometimes downright laughably inconsistent. The redeeming factor here is that even with these flaws she still pulls off all that is necessary to make for a good villain. But in Elysium, the absolute show stealer here is the grander villain in the form of Krugar. Not only is Copley’s performance impeccably evil and brutally fearless, but throughout most of the film his relationship with Max plays off almost equal to the level of Batman and Bane from The Dark Knight Rises – an antagonist who displays all physical and motivational ability to truly threaten and potentially destroy the protagonist, in such a way that the hero’s well-being becomes grippingly realistic to the audience. Now when you factor in Max’s love for his childhood friend Frey and her sick daughter, as well as the potential to change the world, you get a film conflict that towards its conclusion gets you gradually more involved the longer the movie runs. It is somewhat of a disappointment then when the film eventually does end, as it will likely leave you clamoring for more, which is in itself a credit to the film. Recall those small quips previously mentioned? Lack of well-deserved characterization for Max, lack of exploration of any characters at all in the world of Elysium or the origins of Elysium itself? Even the starter implications in taking the relationship between Frey and Max to heightened friendship and/or romantic levels, Elysium could have very well have surpassed its somewhat disappointing 1 hour and 50 minute time length. Since there will likely be no sequel here, giving this film even a 2 and a half hour running time, if suggested plot extensions had been appropriately laid out, could Elysium¬†have been much more satisfying than it stands. Yet make no mistake, what is actually here is excellent, mostly counting in pacing, editing, storytelling, villains, ideas, and superbly impressive special effects. There is no doubt that what has been created will harbor enough respectability and admiration even if such greater exposure comes in its blu-ray release. Thankfully, Blomkamp veered away from a 3D film, as it was entirely unnecessary.

Final Verdict:

Blomkamp has undoubtedly crafted one of the best sci-fi action films of the year. Never is his style glossy, boastful, or overly saturated with forcefully artistic intentions. It is obvious from the film that Blomkamp garnered great inspiration from his previous vision of a desolate and apocalyptic future, thought to extend the idea with a greater focus on technical marvels as opposed to just rehashing the same social commentary he may have already said his peace in. Keep in mind whether you are focused on sociological subtle messages or epically entertaining special effects and stylized violence, one does not necessarily trump the other but rather the style, passion and quality of filmmaking and writing make the decision. In both films Blomkamp cares about characters and emotional relevance, and while some may disagree with his current choice of not making messages and characterization his primary narrowed focus, others would agree that District 9‘s dramatics may have become a bit too contrived, elongated, and even fuzzy or incoherent at certain points. That being said, neither film seems necessarily better than the other, but just tailored towards different plot ideas, focuses and personal taste. In the end, such experimentation should be encouraged. Elysium does contain enough minor setbacks to overall lower its grade, and the greater potential for a landmark film do become more noticeable once analyzed to a certain degree, but as a stand-alone project, Elysium is a very solid and strong testament to what science fiction could be, and Blomkamp’s projects in the genre do more than enough to inspire great modern ideas to the likes of what The Matrix did for action filmmaking in the late 1990s. The story is incredibly relatable and disturbingly down to earth, with action set-pieces that will blow audiences out of their seats given the quality of direction alone. So much in fact that even non-science fiction fans looking for a great popcorn flick will get their full money’s worth; and while the term “popcorn flick” may seem something made up of cheap temporary thrills, it is still a description Elysium has a tendency to fall towards into at certain, but definitely not all, aspects. Whether one sees that description as a negative, there is simply no denying how grandly entertaining and intelligent Elysium actually is. While just a few hairs short of a modern classic, there is no doubting the talent and quality behind what the film does showcase for sci-fi fans. Therefore for both fans and non-fans of the genre, I would rate this as a strong 3 med bays out of 4.

The Wolverine (2013) Theatrical review

What You May Like:

  • The new very human-like Wolverine
  • Deep characterization and story are at the forefront
  • Some very passionate and dedicated performances

What You May Not:

  • Most action sequences have novice-level direction and are overly safe
  • Some CGI doesn’t look as good as it should
  • Hugh Jackman cannot fully tackle deeper scenes

What You’ll Remember:

  • A tie between Mega RoboSamurai and Tao Okamoto’s insane level of beauty

Just when you thought we didn’t have enough X-Men films, and especially after the last silver screen disappointing display of the Wolverine character back in 2009 with X-Men Origins: Wolverine, has a very bold attempt and almost “redo” for the beloved classic Marvel anti-hero been given reigns to a more artistic and character-driven director in James Mangold; responsible for ambitious and creative, if not always successful films such as Girl, Interrupted, Walk the Line, 3:10 to Yuma, Identity, Cop Land, Knight and Day, and Kate and Leopold. Just looking at that resume can make very devoted Wolverine fans raise a few eyebrows; how can such an artistic and at times amateur-like director (Knight and Day much, anyone?) be given primary vision towards a film franchise known for its mostly devoted comic fan-service high standards and creative action reveling in eye-candy and modern special effects? The answer now being a mostly grand very well, thank you. Considering that Mangold obviously didn’t have his eye on making just another futuristic “X-Men” movie at all, bravely switches the focus to take us out of the great U.S. of A entirely and plop Wolverine directly in the face of the Japanese Yakuza political gang wars, as well as giving the clawed superhero an entirely near human-frail makeover, limiting action altogether and rather placing just as much characterization on a female counterpart, who acts much the Yin to Wolverine’s Yang. Or to further elaborate – a branded, shiny, flashy, futuristic typical X-Men film this is most definitely not, granting the audience a man who hardly feels like an X-Man at all. Mangold did not only have his work cut out for him, but treats it like his beloved baby all the way through, and much appreciated it shall be by the vast majority of movie audiences, even the most avid Wolverine fanatics.

The Wolverine‘s title alone is one that implies a character study instead of an adventure or origins tale – who is Wolverine? What are his intentions? What happens to him as a man after all the events of the previous X-Men trilogy? Surely one does not continue to fight crime on city streets, placing pick-pockets in jail and stopping low-brow alley gang fights, especially after taking down such a tremendous world-dominant force as Magneto. The answer, as the film has it, is nothing, really. Wolverine starts off as nothing more than a downtrodden, nomadic hobo of sorts, whose decision to save a Japanese military soldier decades ago from a nuclear explosion, before any other X-Men films took place, comes back to place him in the middle of a Japanese war for corporate power. Being played once again by actor Hugh Jackman, the standards the actor must now meet have been leveled up considering the overall tone and character focus here; thankfully while Jackman doesn’t have the chops to entirely steal the show, one can tell he is giving nothing less than a hundred percent. At start, we do meet Wolverine, or better, Logan (his actual character name) hiding out in a deep well bunker in the middle of a Japanese war, and takes it upon himself to save one man who is about to commit suicide after the dropping of a nuclear bomb nearby that is set to a grand extermination radius. When the young man is saved by Logan, he is dazzled and entranced by his incredible self-healing powers. Having parted ways almost immediately, we meet up with Logan decades later after all of the events of the X-Men trilogy have already taken place, including the downfall of Magneto as well as the death of his love Jean Grey, who still appears to Logan in memories and dreams, played by the always gorgeous Famke Janssen.

Having no real place in society anymore, and doing away with his superhero mutant name, our now broken-hearted and embittered protagonist sets his own small fights for justice, and in the initial instance being the inhumane death of a wild forest bear by some drunken deadbeat local town hunters. Confronting the men in a small bar, Logan is mysteriously and surprisingly confronted by a petite auburn-haired young Asian girl named Yukio, who tells Logan that the most powerful man in Japan wishes to meet with him in order to say a very long-awaited goodbye, the man being the near-dead soldier, Yashida, who owes his life to the Wolverine from decades past. From there on in, we are treated to some creative ideas for special effects as to how now old and sickly Yashida is being treated, as well as very well executed and timed comic relief, a trend that director Mangold certainly has a knack for given the refreshing amount of creative humor in Wolverine. Not yet ready for death even after so many decades, Yashida proposes to “switch” health abilities with Logan, giving his mortality to the former X-Man, who is essentially sick and exhausted from what he sees as a self-healing and immorality curse placed on him, and in turn have Wolverine grant the old dying man’s wish to be immortal, thus ensuring his narcissistic neverending reign of power over his giant Japanese corporate conglomerate. Unbeknown to Logan, Yashida’s ambitious son, Shingen, has had his eye set on his father’s death for far long, in order to take over, yet due to varying circumstances the corporate throne shall instead be passed to Yashida’s granddaughter Mariko, played with dead-on execution and impressive passion by actress Tao Okamoto, to whom Wolverine being her debut feature film. From the start, the film highlights the sheer beauty of this woman, and as does seem Logan is well to notice; Okamoto can arguably perhaps be the most beautiful Asian woman on the planet as far as yours grinch truly is concerned, and her character Makido in all her sullen and humble, yet deeply embedded bravado, presented with a loving soft-hearted kindness is the unexpected absolute show-stopper of The Wolverine.

From here Wolverine becomes a story of cat and mouse, with Logan taking on the role of Makido’s bodyguard, protecting her with a mostly unknown motivation, but perhaps due to his relationship with Yashida as his own son is dead set out to capture her and perhaps worse. This foundational plot device almost feels like something straight out of 80s and 90s action films – run away from bad guys by escaping to various locales while growing as characters together, intermixing new plot twists all the way through; thankfully the story keeps the characters consistent in their mission and even personalities, which works well to keep them relatable to us. Now it’s during this first act that we also meet Yashida’s seductively beautiful doctor alter ego, mutant Viper, played by Russian actress Svetlana Khodchenkova, most well known for her only American role in Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy. Similarly, Makido’s former love interest now self-made protector (due to a personal vow to Yashida), ninja Harada, played by Will Yun Lee; both are secondary characters but have their own motivations for eventually working to get their means finished within the overall plot, they add their own genuinely interesting twists and thrills to the film, including how significantly Viper weakens Logan’s mutant powers. Lee is nothing too special, and Svetlana does well at creating such a mysterious seductive beauty initially, but later during the film’s final act becomes sort of an afterthought, a fairly heavy-handed character, kiddish in her near plastic Barbie doll presentation, and could seriously benefit from a sandwich. These two add a good amount to the film’s enjoyment, bringing about circumstances that affect our protagonists significantly, even if they do not come off as anywhere too memorable themselves.

Even though Mangold does introduce both the main plot template and characters with standard technical efficiency, from the very first action sequence involving a raid on a local Buddhist temple from the Yakuza gang, does Mangold show that his skill to direct enthralling and thrilling action scenes feel like something from a film student with a large budget on his hands. It’s a positive that action in Wolverine is kept to a necessary minimum, because though more enclosed battles do offer some slick martial arts action in impressive and stylized flips and attacks, more broad range ones not only toss in a decent flair of disappointing looking CGI effects (that really should look much better for a 2013 Hollywood film), but contain an annoying overuse of shaky cam and close-up shots, nearly killing much of the wide range establishing foreground viewers actually need to be able to make out what sort of death-defying stunts the characters are actually going through. For example, in a scene where Harada is jumping over various rooftops to chase the Yakuza thugs, Mangold keeps the camera too close to the actor, then cutting away much of his long jumps but leaving the audience completely blind to how high the jumps are, Harada’s expressions before, during, and after them, and ultimately killing our perspective and any real thrills we are supposed to take away from the scene. The same can be said for the martial arts fighting, that are not only too closely shot, with a plethora of unnecessary edits that keep us from seeing who is actually fighting or getting hit, and where the attacks are landing, but due to keeping the PG-13 rating, even Wolverine’s own claws shed very little to no blood, even though he is continuously stabbing and slashing enemies. God forbid we get an R-rated Wolverine film, especially for an anti-hero as embittered and sinister in his approach as Wolverine. Such a safety net just feels unnecessary, and one that it seems the film itself is even discouraged with and crying to do away with. Even one great idea for a train rooftop fight does offer some gripping moments, the just average green screen work keeps it from being more than it was trying for. If you’re interested in the 3D version of the film, just take note that this one train scene is the only one where a 3D viewing would most noticed. Given how artificial the scenes comes off, it isn’t the treat one might be hoping for. In other words, don’t bother spending the extra money on the 3D version. This technical setback of action directing seems the biggest issue during the first half of the film, action sequences later on taking place in more enclosed places fare better, yet have little to do with the direction but more to do with the talent of the actors, most notably the very athletic and tough-as-nails Rila Fukushima, who plays Logan’s self-proclaimed “bodyguard” Yukio, who, for lack of a better description, kicks absolute freaking ass. There is much scene-stealing this young woman achieves as well, much that Hugh Jackman just can’t seem to do all on his own. And while it is unfortunate that Mangold’s action direction is for the most part pretty sloppy, he more than makes up for it when giving us some of the best characterization and story pacing this franchise has ever seen, which makes its audience care so much for the characters that we almost do not even notice the technical shortcomings of the more intense scenes.

Wolverine‘s focus here is primarily two different relationships – first being the one between Logan and Makido, to which there is much chemistry, most thankfully to actress Tao herself, who through a dedicated performance delivers dialogue with realistic essence and body language that goes beyond enough to charm the viewer throughout; she does it with wisdom and maturity, not by being blatantly and superficially cute. Though Jackman does meet her eye to eye for the most part in dialogue, it can become apparent that he is actually trying very hard to do so. Such effort is well appreciated, but the acting chops on Jackman’s part for deeper more serious scenes between the two do not flow naturally out of Jackman as well as from Tao, yet the story between the two is still there, and does offer so much worthwhile growth that there is very little need for any action in the end. We of course must remember though that this is primarily labeled as an action picture. The second relationship focus here is that of Wolverine himself, the continuous struggle with having to deal with this self-made protection gig over Makido, his desire to leave his superhero status and name altogether, as well as his own embittered nature due to much of the grief over the loss of his former love Jean who he simply cannot seem to forget or take steps in overcoming. Likewise, Makido can parallel Logan’s self struggles with those of her very own family, who at some point only becomes Yukio herself considering everyone else’s betrayals. Yet whatever the two endure, director Mangold’s desire and specialty for close-up shots, the ones out of place during those initial action scenes, does come as an advantage in this regard, as one can tell he has his heart invested in each character’s expressions, emotions, circumstantial fears, and sense of self. Steady use of zoom-in and establishing shots when there is more than one on screen, the viewer feels almost romanticized by their expressive fears, doubts, and subtle mannerisms, thus making way for more involving intense scenes when they just escape death by hairs; you truly start to root for these characters as they become one with the audience. This kind of direction is completely fitting with Mangold’s true artistic strengths. As mentioned earlier, all protagonists remain focused on their primary mission throughout, and while it leads to them becoming more and more reliable as people to us as the audience, it is Logan himself who comes off so vastly frail, broken, human, and real, one cannot help but ache during his weakest moments. This is the crux of what makes Wolverine so vastly different from previous X films. Are there still those typical Hollywood last minute contrived clutch saves? Of course, but at this point those are all just expected from movies, regardless of quality. Once things culminate during the film’s climactic battles, it seems Mangold gets a better sense of how to direct his final action scenes in a way that make more sense and are more satisfying. though it is perhaps just do to the fact that there are far less characters on screen. The CGI itself even begins to fare better. Overall Mangold is given a much better script to work with by the second half of the film, not that he goes about it badly the first half, but in terms of plot twists, surprises, character growth, and the revealing of newer enemies, including one of the most far-fetched yet intimidating foes in Marvel’s villain resume, a giant steel robot Samurai, Wolverine ends in a fine hoorah of bombastic action, one set to please audiences completely granted some technical quips from the first half that are easily remedied.

Final Verdict:

The Wolverine never truly fails or falls flat in any department minus the technical setbacks of the first act that may not immediately be noticeable to everyone, but despite however much better the film could be, it could very easily have been worse. Taking on a central character story after such a bomb with Wolverine’s last film outing was a risky endeavor, something that could have buried not only the character but also Jackman’s career as an action star. Fortunately, the film succeeds where any truly great film should – story and characters. Since Mangold holds such priority to bring us one with these two, Logan and Makido, this is what we’ll take away from the film most. Logan as the Wolverine is much more man than mutant this time around, in physical ability as well as complexity of heart, and his aiding leading ladies throughout the journey are brought out and highlighted just as wondrously with Makido and Yukio – two characters who do just as much to bring out Logan’s true realizations of self as Logan himself. He would have been lost without either of them, even though he was set out to protect one of them. Even going to such a detail as the Wolverine claws, they are kept to minimal use, a plot element at times to act as a character accessory the way someone like Dirty Harry is with his revolver – it never overtakes him and just feels like an arm or leg given how subtle and unobtrusive it is.

Whether Mangold does direct another adaptation has yet to be seen, and granted the sheer level of originality displayed here, that would be a wise choice, granted if the technical quips could also be addressed. The Wolverine is fast-paced, funny, fully entertaining, emotionally gripping, and could be argued as on par or even better than the last X hit, First Class. It’s great to see that a franchise would take such a risk as to worry more about people than effects, even if in the effects department things could have been a bit more realistically portrayed, regardless if the teenage crowd would be turned away due to an R rating or not. Given the level of emotional depth and plot investment, the film is quite honestly more geared towards mature audiences anyway. Let’s hope any sequel bring just as much and more. Definitely recommended, a strong and bold 3 Yakuzas out of 4. Add a half Yakuza if you’re already a fan of the X film series.